I’ve been to a few M2M events recently including http://www.smi-online.co.uk/energy/uk/conference/M2M-for-the-Oil-and-Gas-Industry and if there was one word that was used more than others then it was co-operation. The various pieces of the M2M jigsaw such as the hardware providers, the telco’s and the software developers all need each other and there’s a line of thought that says those that co-operate best will win.
I come from the world of sensing and telemetry, so taking readings from wherever and then transmitting them to where they can be best used. When we look at all the things that can be measured and the many suppliers then it becomes clear that not one sensor technology suits all. Let’s just look at level sensing – in 2011 worldwide sales of level sensors exceeded $2.5bn and that’s just a small part of the world of instrumentation which is reportedly worth $94bn (http://www.intechnoconsulting.com/pdfs/E%20PA2010%20Presse.pdf).
Just different sensors suit different applications, then so do different RTU’s and different software platforms and I have been lucky enough to be involved recently in a great example of this. The client was a large parcel delivery organisation and the aim of the project was to understand where the fuel went. The obvious answer is into lorries, vans, cars and to heat various properties and yes, most of it went where it was meant to go. But when you buy £100 million of fuel a year understanding where most of it goes isn’t enough, you want to know where all of it goes. This meant getting data from various places, understanding it, reporting and acting. Different tank level telemetry devices were used, data was reported back from flow meters on board the delivery trucks, interfaces into accounting software as well as routing and scheduling services were developed and there was even a feed into the central security function. The result is that orders are placed and deliveries scheduled automatically, which are in turn verified and invoices automatically processed. Thieves have been caught, mistakes have been rectified and the efficiencies improvements are enormous. This has only been possible thanks to co-operation -> the various hardware suppliers; the software developers; the client and the suppliers.
Not only do we need to co-operate but we also need to respect each other. I hear far too often the phrase “it’s only a box” but it’s a box that’s vital to the success of the project. M2M isn’t like the mobile phone world where you can have the user switch it on and off again, or when a call fails half way through the user can simply re-dial. M2M needs high level of reliability as a major cost is site attendance. Having built up reliability data over the years we are now able to offer a complete “service wrap” to clients – we know what our costs are going to be so can offer this complete on site service and give the customer piece of mind.