Internet of Things https://blogs.microsoft.com/iot Microsoft Internet of Things Blog Wed, 21 Jun 2017 16:15:51 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.8 77982353 From cranes to shipping containers, IoT helps ZPMC transform the world’s ports https://blogs.microsoft.com/iot/2017/06/21/from-cranes-to-shipping-containers-iot-helps-zpmc-transform-the-worlds-ports/ Wed, 21 Jun 2017 16:15:51 +0000 http://blogs.microsoft.com/iot/?p=23263 Read more »]]> Looking to transform the world’s shipping ports, Shanghai-based ZPMC is using the Internet of Things (IoT) to connect equipment ranging from giant cranes to shipping containers.

Already the world’s largest manufacturer of port cranes, ZPMC is now working on becoming the total solution provider for the digital port. Working with Microsoft, it is shifting its business from selling hardware to also providing software and services. In doing so it has brought global connectivity to ports around the world and delivered added value to its customers.

Using Microsoft Azure IoT solutions and services including Azure IoT Suite, Stream Analytics, and Machine Learning, as well as Microsoft Power BI, SQL Server and DevOps, ZPMC can now remotely operate huge cranes 24/7 from inside an office for increased safety and efficiency. From its headquarters the company can also monitor all of its cranes worldwide, in more than 250 ports in 97 countries, and use predictive maintenance to receive alerts before equipment fails, significantly boosting uptime. ZPMC’s customers can even track their containers from dock to final destination.

Microsoft’s IoT solutions are enabling customers like ZPMC to scale, grow and transform their business. IoT-connected equipment can help lower costs, improve quality and increase energy efficiency, but most important it can enable new business models as companies across a range of industries expand their product lines to include software and services offerings.

For more information, read the Transform blog post.

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Connecting vehicles for the long haul with IoT https://blogs.microsoft.com/iot/2017/05/31/connecting-vehicles-for-the-long-haul-with-iot/ Wed, 31 May 2017 16:00:32 +0000 http://blogs.microsoft.com/iot/?p=23055 Read more »]]> Somewhere on a remote stretch of highway a truck carrying valuable and perishable cargo runs into engine trouble. Rather than seeking out a local mechanic to diagnose the problem, the driver contacts fleet headquarters. There, a technician has already received detailed information from Internet-enabled vehicle sensors. This information tells the technician about the severity of the fault and enables them to know when, where, and how to best fix the underlying issue. That truck will be back on the road a great deal faster thanks to the Internet of Things (IoT).

IoT capabilities are now standard at Daimler Trucks North America (DTNA), but the company has a long history of innovation. Since the 1940s, DTNA has been at the vanguard, from developing lightweight aluminum truck components to introducing innovative green technologies. Today, DTNA continues to innovate by using IoT and data visualization to help customers better manage their fleets. Case in point: Recently they have partnered with Microsoft to enhance Detroit Connect, a pioneering integrated connected vehicle solution that can capture and analyze data, creating actionable insights that enable innovations in fleet management and maintenance.

Virtual Technician, Detroit Connect’s remote diagnostic service, uses Azure IoT Hub to collect performance information from vehicles on the road and stores it in Azure. Fleet managers can view complete fault-event details through the Detroit Connect portal and quickly know when a fault-event has occurred. Virtual Technician is proven to work at large scale, and more than 200,000 trucks on the road today are using it to maximize uptime and extend vehicle life.

DTNA is also using Azure IoT Hub to enable Detroit Connect Analytics, a new service — currently being piloted on 250 DTNA trucks — designed to help customers use data to optimize performance at the fleet level. Data is gathered from more than 20 vehicle sensors and then streamed to Azure IoT Hub. Once the data is in Azure, Detroit Connect Analytics dashboards help customers analyze and visualize that data to generate key insights, which enable fleet managers to optimize loads, improve fuel economy, and lower maintenance costs and vehicle downtime.

Even from the earliest planning stage, DTNA knew that any solution that used IoT to gather data from moving vehicles would need to be scalable and highly secure. DTNA partnered with Microsoft because of their experience with large IoT networks and the security of the Azure environment. The environment is redundant, replicated in two geographically dispersed Azure data centers, and it uses Azure Traffic Manager to trigger failover.

With Microsoft, DTNA has found a partner that is also committed to the long haul. DTNA’s director of connectivity, Matt Pfaffenbach, explains: “Microsoft has been both an advisor and an advocate for us. Unlike some software suppliers that just want to protect their licensing rights, Microsoft wants to help us achieve our goals.”

IoT has become central to DTNA’s business, as the ability to capture data better is “beneficial for us as we develop the next generation of technologies,” says Pfaffenbach. “The data we are now able to gather helps our engineers find flaws in their designs, our quality people find flaws in our processes and our warranty folks find better solutions to control our costs, which ultimately controls the costs of our customers. That is extremely powerful for us.”

Check out the full customer story to learn more about DTNA’s IoT solution.

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The Internet of Things begins with a secure foundation today https://blogs.microsoft.com/iot/2017/05/18/the-internet-of-things-begins-with-a-secure-foundation-today/ Thu, 18 May 2017 16:00:56 +0000 http://blogs.microsoft.com/iot/?p=23164 Read more »]]> The Internet of Things (IoT) is becoming a part of daily life in every industry, and around the world. Governments and public sector organizations are monitoring critical infrastructure, companies are optimizing their supply chains and driving growth, and business has access to more and more managed services that are lowering technical barriers and the cost of doing business. But IoT also opens the door to new types of criminal enterprise. And once a cybercriminal has gained access to a network, they can easily access every area of an individual’s life or a company’s operations.

It is our belief that government leaders must respond to this threat by helping establish IoT cybersecurity policies and guidelines. They are stewards of societal well-being, and as such they play a critical role in driving consensus within the tech industry, as well as working with other countries to enforce laws and bring cybercriminals to justice.

The industry must also do more, not only to build secure hardware and software solutions, but also to ensure that these far-reaching solutions are installed and operated in a secure manner. This requires the cooperation of manufacturers, developers, systems integrators, deployment specialists and operators.

The IoT ecosystem depends on key players with a diverse range of security capabilities — manufacturers and integrators, developers, deployers and operators.

Microsoft is committed to helping its customers keep their IoT solutions secure through an end-to-end approach that starts by incorporating sound practices and secure technologies from the ground up.  Beyond that, safeguarding the vision of IoT requires collaboration, and ensuring its longevity starts by laying a foundation built on trust, open dialogue and a long-range view of what’s possible.

Read Paul Nicholas’ post about Microsoft’s vision for cybersecurity and download the whitepaper, Cybersecurity Policy for the Internet of Things, to learn more.

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Microsoft Azure IoT Edge – Extending cloud intelligence to edge devices https://blogs.microsoft.com/iot/2017/05/10/microsoft-azure-iot-edge-extending-cloud-intelligence-to-edge-devices/ Wed, 10 May 2017 19:00:52 +0000 http://blogs.microsoft.com/iot/?p=23040 Read more »]]> As the Internet of Things continues to accelerate and businesses realize the immense benefits, the next breakthrough capability we’re providing is to enable IoT devices themselves to evolve. In early IoT solutions, most IoT devices simply sent telemetry to and received commands from the cloud, with the logic that found insights in device telemetry residing in the cloud.

As billions of devices get connected and send trillions of messages, it makes sense to move some of the cloud intelligence out to IoT devices themselves. When IoT devices start running cloud intelligence locally, we refer to them as “IoT edge” devices. Enabling intelligence on IoT edge devices means enabling analytics and insights to happen closer to the source of the data, saving customers money and simplifying their solutions.

IoT edge devices range from small footprint devices (e.g. smaller than a Raspberry Pi) and gateways to industrial machines and autonomous vehicles. Instead of simply generating data and sending it to the cloud, these IoT edge devices can process and analyze data to gain insights, and then quickly act on them locally and autonomously. For example, a factory needs immediate response times to stop operations when an equipment failure is predicted by local intelligence, or to protect worker safety in the event of an accident.

While the benefits of edge intelligence are immense, the challenge it poses is how to develop, deploy and manage this cloud intelligence for IoT devices in a secure and scalable way. Microsoft has a long history of taking complicated technologies, simplifying them and making them broadly available so everyone can benefit.

Today, we are announcing Microsoft Azure IoT Edge, a revolutionary set of capabilities that will extend our existing IoT gateway offering to continue our mission to simply IoT further. Azure IoT Edge is a capability spanning cloud and IoT edge devices that make it easy to securely distribute cloud intelligence locally. Azure IoT Edge is cross platform, running on both Windows and Linux, and on devices even smaller than a Raspberry Pi with as little as 128MB of memory.

Enable cloud services at the edge

Azure IoT Edge enables an ecosystem of Microsoft and third-party services at the edge to help you light up new IoT scenarios. Azure IoT Edge enables seamless deployment of cloud services such as:

Last month at Hannover Messe, we announced Azure Stream Analytics on edge devices, a new feature of Azure Stream Analytics. The service extends Microsoft’s unique streaming technology from the cloud down to devices that are running on Azure IoT Edge. Be sure to learn more about Azure Stream Analytics on edge devices.

Manage edge devices and services from the cloud

You can manage devices and services running at the edge in the same cloud portal, making it easy to monitor and manage your IoT solution. Azure IoT Edge uses Azure IoT Hub to facilitate secure and scalable distribution of Microsoft and third-party services to edge devices. Once these services are running on Azure IoT Edge-enabled devices, you can manage both the devices and the services in the cloud using Azure IoT Hub Device Management capabilities. This greatly simplifies the complexity of deployment, configuration, updates, and health monitoring of IoT solutions involving a varied set of devices.

Simplify IoT solution development

Azure IoT Edge also helps address the challenge faced by organizations to attract needed developer talent for building and maintaining end-to-end solutions. In a typical IoT implementation, organizations need hardware developers for programming IoT devices, software developers proficient in cloud technologies and developers with specialized programming language skills, such as in machine learning, stream analytics, and artificial intelligence.

With Azure IoT Edge, developers can use any programming languages including C, Node.js, Java, Microsoft .NET, and Python to build and configure code. By using the same programming languages you use in the cloud to build and test your IoT applications and then deploy them to your edge devices, Azure IoT Edge greatly reduces development work required to build and maintain an IoT solution and its backend infrastructure.

Reduce IoT solution costs

Azure IoT Edge enables IoT devices to run cloud services, process data in near real-time, and communicate with sensors and other devices connected to them, even with intermittent cloud connectivity. By enabling processing, analytics and action to happen closer to the source of the data, Azure IoT Edge empowers you to make faster and smarter decisions, while reducing bandwidth costs by sending only critical information to the cloud for further analysis. You and your organization can decide what IoT data to capture and send to the cloud by programming your edge device to process data locally. Then, send only the data you need to store and analyze in the cloud. By reducing the amount of data you transmit from device to cloud, you’ll reduce bandwidth costs and costs associated with storing and analyzing data in other business applications—but still benefit from enhanced insights.

Operate with offline and intermittent connectivity

With Azure IoT Edge, edge devices can operate reliably and securely even when there is intermittent cloud connectivity. Once reconnected, edge devices automatically synchronize their latest state and continue to function seamlessly. Operations can continue even with unstable networks, for example a ship at sea where high bandwidth networks are only available once in port. While the ship is at sea, it may rely on a metered network which may be expensive or have no access to the Internet.

Sign up for the latest information on Azure IoT Edge

Azure IoT Edge is the next step in our vision of making edge devices smarter and more configurable. Microsoft launched the Azure IoT Gateway SDK over a year ago as a framework to create extensible gateway solutions. The SDK provided code that reduced the work required for developers to build and deploy gateway logic. Azure IoT Edge extends beyond gateways to include all edge devices and focuses on democratizing edge intelligence. Azure IoT Edge will empower organizations to make progress towards greater edge intelligence to enhance their IoT solutions and fuel their digital transformation.

Learn more and sign up for the latest information on Azure IoT Edge.

Check out other announcements

As part of our on-going effort to simplify IoT development, we also announced additional Azure IoT related news at Microsoft Build for Azure IoT Hub updates, new kit certifications for Microsoft Azure Certified for IoT and new developer training courses. Check out latest Windows IoT news at Build here.

Microsoft IoT

Microsoft has the most comprehensive IoT portfolio with a wide range of IoT offerings to meet organizations where they are on their IoT journey, including everything businesses need to get started — ranging from operating systems for their devices, cloud services to control them, advanced analytics to gain insights, and business applications to enable intelligent action. Microsoft is a founding member of the OpenFog Consortium, which focuses on advancing interoperability between cloud and edge. Microsoft is also a member of the Industrial Internet Consortium and OPC Foundation.

Read more about how Microsoft is simplifying IoT to make it even more accessible to organizations interested in digital transformation.

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The real-time difference: How IoT is poised to transform your inventory management system https://blogs.microsoft.com/iot/2017/05/03/the-real-time-difference-how-iot-is-poised-to-transform-your-inventory-management-system/ Wed, 03 May 2017 16:00:04 +0000 http://blogs.microsoft.com/iot/?p=22992 Read more »]]> Constantly shifting consumer preferences demand that retailers and consumer packaged goods (CPG) companies become agile. This means making ongoing decisions regarding stock, inventory, and production changes quickly and in an informed way. Today, robust inventory optimization solutions help retailers make these decisions with SKU-by-SKU sales data and recommendations surfaced at the store level. This gives companies visibility each week into which stores or outlets are struggling, which SKUs are performing, and which are dead weight.

The latest solutions for inventory optimization are primed to take those insights even further, utilizing the Internet of Things (IoT). IoT integration into inventory optimization solutions promises significant benefits to retailers and CPG companies. As these solutions evolve, capturing real-time data in-store will help to automate planning, create more accurate forecasts, and enable retailers and CPG firms to go beyond retrospective data analytics.

Neal Analytics, a leading Microsoft partner, is constantly looking to the future with its inventory optimization solution. The forthcoming IoT capabilities of the Neal Analytics Inventory Optimization solution, built on Microsoft Cloud technology, combine revenue gains from more accurate forecasting with a real-time understanding of market preferences and the productivity boost of automated processes. Inventory Optimization is a part of Microsoft’s cloud solution portfolio for the retail and CPG industries and is available on Microsoft AppSource.

IoT revolutionizes how retailers and CPG companies capture data insights

Smart coolers, shelves, and racks are transforming the way retailers and CPG companies think about collecting data for their stores. Insight into the latest sales and inventory data helps businesses increase agility, enabling them to make decisions faster and adjustments in their supply chain right away. IoT technologies such as connected cameras and sensors built into shelves enable companies to see who their customers are and what products they respond to. These devices can deliver near-real-time data directly to back offices, maximizing share of shelf and tracking product stock. Sensors send alerts when items are out of stock and when the mix of products on a shelf or rack changes — a critical capability, as overstocks and out-of-stocks cost retailers $1.1 trillion globally every year.[i]

These racks and coolers can also assist with planogram compliance. Cameras by machines will have the ability to snap a display photo and upload it to the cloud, where intelligent recognition compares it to the planogram. Inventory optimization solutions can then provide actionable reports on planogram compliance and sales data within minutes. Reps can use these insights during store visits to make sure they are recommending the right SKUs and products to their customers at any given moment. Having this on-hand inventory data has been shown to help improve sales by 10 percent.[ii]

With IoT capabilities, retailers and CPG firms can gather data more quickly and accurately than ever before, enabling faster action when and where it’s most needed.

A wealth of IoT data helps retailers and consumer goods companies improve and automate their processes

The constant stream of data from IoT devices back to retailers and consumer goods companies makes it possible to uncover new operational insights. Inventory optimization solutions can take the vast amounts of data received and analyze it to produce actionable information, with SKU-by-SKU and store-by-store breakdowns. These detailed insights enable organizations to plan better, automate tasks, and be smarter about their use of employee time.

With IoT, inventory assessment for stores across an organization can become automatic and happen much more frequently. Currently, most retailers only conduct full stock counting once a year — and those counts are off on average by 25 percent.[iii] An IoT-enabled inventory optimization solution can shift the assessment cadence to weekly or even daily.

The immediacy of inventory data with IoT allows for retailers and CPG organizations to make rapid decisions regarding planning and inventory changes. For instance, using IoT data, an inventory optimization solution can take out-of-stock alerts from a specific cooler, pinpoint the store, and automatically add that store to the daily route of a field seller so they can address the issue. Companies can automatically set up and shift forecasts based on current and historical product performance, as well as third-party data. They can then alter production calendars based on the most up-to-date forecasts and trends, ensuring maximized production efficiency.

Retailers can also use IoT data to automate in-store ordering. Field sellers can make order recommendations based on SKU data and previous purchase history, and then automatically sync those orders to customer profiles in a CRM system.

Check out the following resources to learn more:

[i] http://www.nbcnews.com/business/business-news/retailers-face-growing-out-stock-overstock-return-costs-n471326
[ii] EKN 2016
[iii] http://www.computerworld.com/article/2934353/retail-it/what-is-behind-retails-1-1-trillion-inventory-losses.html

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Microsoft simplifies IoT further https://blogs.microsoft.com/iot/2017/04/20/microsoft-simplifies-iot-further/ Thu, 20 Apr 2017 16:00:21 +0000 http://blogs.microsoft.com/iot/?p=22545 Read more »]]> The Internet of Things (IoT) is quickly becoming a critical aspect of doing business. In the same way that web, mobile and cloud technologies have powered digital transformation, IoT is the next big catalyst.

Yet while IoT brings a new set of benefits for companies that want to keep an edge on their competition, it brings challenges too — IoT solutions can still be complex, and a shortage of skills makes it difficult for everyone to take advantage of this new innovation. To help solve those challenges and simplify IoT, Microsoft is announcing some new technologies and solutions this week.

Announcing Microsoft IoT Central, a new SaaS solution to simplify IoT

Today, Microsoft is announcing Microsoft IoT Central, a new software-as-a-service (SaaS) offering that reduces the complexity of IoT solutions. Microsoft IoT Central is a fully managed SaaS offering for customers and partners that enables powerful IoT scenarios without requiring cloud solution expertise.

Built on the Azure cloud, Microsoft IoT Central simplifies the development process and makes it easy and fast for customers to get started, making digital transformation more accessible to everyone.

Microsoft IoT Central will be available along with our existing platform-as-a-service (PaaS) solution, Azure IoT Suite, which enables deep customization and full control. This new IoT SaaS offering has the potential to dramatically increase the speed at which manufacturers can innovate and bring new products to market, as well as lower the barriers to creating IoT solutions that generate new revenue opportunities and better experiences for customers.

Microsoft IoT Central will be rolling out more publicly over the coming months. Check out MicrosoftIoTCentral.com to sign up for essential content and updates.

Microsoft Azure IoT Suite Connected Factory

For customers and partners with cloud solution expertise, Microsoft is continuing to invest in our existing PaaS offering, Microsoft Azure IoT Suite. At the Hannover Messe industrial show next week, Microsoft is introducing a new preconfigured solution in the Azure IoT Suite: Connected Factory, which helps accelerate a customer’s journey to Industrie 4.0 and makes it easy to connect on-premises OPC UA and OPC Classic devices to the Microsoft cloud and get insights to help drive operational efficiencies. In addition, it enables customers to securely browse and configure factory devices from the cloud.

We have partnered with several industry leaders in the OPC UA ecosystem that have built turnkey gateway solutions which have the Azure connectivity used by this solution already built in and require close to zero configuration. These partners include Unified Automation, Softing and Hewlett Packard Enterprise.

For more on the connected factory and what it enables for customers and partners, see the Azure IoT Suite home page, along with this technical blog post and our Six Step Framework to Connected Factory white paper and demo.

Microsoft Azure Time Series Insights

IoT devices and sensors send data in a time-based fashion, and a critical requirement of IoT solutions is to find anomalies and trends in this data. But until now, companies have had to hire partners or staff experts to mine the data for insights.

Today, Microsoft is announcing a new service: Azure Time Series Insights, a fully managed analytics, storage and visualization service that makes it simple to interactively and instantly explore and analyze billions of events from an IoT solution.

Azure Time Series Insights provides a global view of data across various event sources so companies can quickly validate their IoT solutions and avoid costly downtime of mission-critical devices. It helps organizations discover hidden trends, spot anomalies, and conduct root-cause analysis in near real time, all without writing a single line of code through its simple and intuitive user experience. In addition, it provides rich APIs to enable companies to integrate its powerful capabilities into their existing workflows and applications.

Microsoft IoT Central and the Azure IoT Suite connected factory preconfigured solution both leverage the new Azure Time Series Insights service now available in preview.

Companies and partners like thyssenkrupp Elevator and Codit are already leveraging Time Series Insights to drive cost reduction and meet customer needs. To learn more, read our technical blog and sign up for the Azure Time Series Insights preview today.

Microsoft Azure Stream Analytics on edge devices

Although many developers are already benefiting from connecting IoT devices directly to the cloud, some scenarios require edge intelligence to get the most out of the IoT solution. In 2016, Microsoft launched the Azure IoT Gateway SDK, which enables developers and ISVs to easily build and deploy gateway intelligence tailored to their specific scenario.

Today, Microsoft is announcing the preview of Azure Stream Analytics on edge devices, a new feature of Azure Stream Analytics that extends the benefits of this unique streaming technology from the cloud down to the device level.

Azure Stream Analytics on edge devices has the same unified cloud-managed experience for stream analytics running across edge devices and the cloud. This approach enables organizations to use streaming analytics in scenarios where connectivity to the cloud is limited or inconsistent, but the need for quick insight and proactive actions are essential to run the business.

To learn more, read our technical blog post and sign up for the Azure Stream Analytics preview today.

Microsoft Azure IoT Hub Device Provisioning service

Microsoft is continuing our commitment to reducing the complexity and time required to get started with IoT. The new Azure IoT Hub Device Provisioning service simplifies the enrollment process, enabling organizations to automatically register and provision their devices to IoT Hub in a secure and scalable way while saving time and resources. Device Provisioning will work with any type of IoT device already supported by Azure IoT Hub.

Devices running Windows 10 IoT operating systems will enable an even easier way to connect to Device Provisioning via a client application that OEMs can include in the device unit. With Windows 10 IoT, customers can get a zero-touch provisioning experience, eliminating configuration and provisioning hassles when onboarding new IoT devices that connect to Azure services.

When combined with Windows 10 IoT support for Azure IoT Hub device management, the entire device lifecycle management is simplified through features that enable device reprovisioning, ownership transfer, secure device management, and device end-of-life management. You can learn more about Windows IoT device provisioning and device management details by visiting Azure IoT Device Management and reading our technical blog.

Security partners bring silicon to the age of IoT

Microsoft’s commitment to leadership in IoT security continues, and today we are announcing Azure IoT support for a wide variety of hardware and standards to strengthen our commitment to IoT security.

Azure IoT now supports the industrywide security standards Device Identity Composition Engine (DICE) and Hardware Security Module (HSM). The DICE standard enables manufacturers to use silicon gates to create device identification based in hardware, making security hardware part of the DNA of new devices from the ground up. HSMs are the core security technology used to secure device identities and provide advanced functionality such as hardware-based device attestation and zero-touch provisioning.

Microsoft is also announcing partnerships with Micron, STMicro to support various types of silicon leveraging HSM and DICE security technologies and Spyrus to support HSM as part of SD and USB storage devices.

Next week at Hannover Messe, Microsoft will showcase how the device identification and attestation model can be used to protect IoT devices large and small by allowing for automatic device registration and assignment to IoT Hub as soon as the device is turned on — automating an authentication and provisioning process to save time for IoT implementations. Hardware from Micron and STMicro will be on display.

To learn more, read our technical blog post.

Microsoft at Hannover Messe

Next week at Hannover Messe, Microsoft will showcase how we’re helping to advance digital transformation for customers by simplifying IoT, making it more accessible and easier to implement, as well as continuing to offer the most comprehensive portfolio of IoT solutions.

With Microsoft IoT Central, Microsoft is simplifying IoT so every business can digitally transform through IoT solutions that are more accessible and easier to implement. Microsoft has the most comprehensive IoT portfolio with a wide range of IoT offerings to meet organizations where they are on their IoT journey, including everything businesses need to get started — ranging from operating systems for their devices, cloud services to control them, advanced analytics to gain insights, and business applications to enable intelligent action.

If you’re attending Hannover Messe next week, stop by and see these technologies in action in Hall 7 in Booth #C40.

And to see how Microsoft IoT can transform your business, visit www.InternetofYourThings.com.

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Transforming hotel laundry service with the Internet of Linens https://blogs.microsoft.com/iot/2017/04/13/transforming-hotel-laundry-service-with-the-internet-of-linens/ Thu, 13 Apr 2017 16:00:46 +0000 http://blogs.microsoft.com/iot/?p=22791 Read more »]]> One of the pleasures of staying in a hotel is having someone else take care of the daily chores for you. But most of us don’t give a second thought to where all those fresh towels and bed linens come from (and go to) on a daily basis.

For many hotels – as well as restaurants, hospitals, resorts and care facilities – there’s an entire supply – and resupply – chain in action behind the scenes, ensuring that every towel and every sheet is catalogued, washed, pressed and returned to its proper location. Managing this process has always been a challenge for laundry services, but thanks to the Internet of Things (IoT), Berendsen UK, a major UK-based laundry company, now has complete visibility into the location of every item, at any time, as well as the ability to analyze and report on the data for a company-wide and country-wide view.

The Microsoft News Centre UK feature story Berendsen UK’s fresh approach to the Internet of Things explains how this company uses the Microsoft Azure cloud, the Microsoft IoT Hub, PowerBI and smart tags in every piece of linen to track the status of one million (and growing) bed sheets, pillow cases, tablecloths, napkins and towels they launder and return every day to facilities around the country. The solution, which will continue to scale up as the company grows, enables Berendsen to track their inventory, streamline their operations and improve their service.

Thanks to the smart tags and data analysis through Azure HDInsight, the company can use their PowerBI dashboards to track operations; but they also gather valuable management data and insights, such as where losses occur, how long each towel or sheet lasts, and how linen items from different manufacturers perform over time. This not only keeps customers happy by reducing the speed of the laundry/delivery cycle, it also keeps costs from spinning out of control.

To learn more about how Microsoft IoT can transform your business, visit: www.InternetofYourThings.com.

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Three ways Microsoft helps companies use big data, cloud and AI to accelerate digital transformation and the Internet of Things https://blogs.microsoft.com/iot/2017/04/12/three-ways-microsoft-helps-companies-use-big-data-cloud-and-ai-to-accelerate-digital-transformation-and-the-internet-of-things/ Wed, 12 Apr 2017 16:00:03 +0000 http://blogs.microsoft.com/iot/?p=22734 Read more »]]> The age of intelligence is here. According to IDC, the worldwide revenues for big data and business analytics will grow from $130.1 billion in 2016 to more than $203 billion in 2020. Today there is an immense opportunity for enterprises to differentiate themselves from the competition by leveraging big data and advanced analytics solutions. If you’re already capturing or plan to capture IoT data, you can mine your data for unprecedented insights that may change the way you do business.

A recent McKinsey research study found that companies that use analytics extensively are twice as likely to outperform the competition in terms of sales, profit, growth and ROI. Our customers are already using advanced analytics and big data solutions to better serve their customers and outperform competitors. The top three benefits emerging across multiple industries and use cases, as well as a glimpse into how our customers are accelerating their digital transformation, are explained below.

  1. Optimize manufacturing with real-time analytics

Manufacturers large and small have transformed by capturing and analyzing live streaming data from production lines. Hershey Company uses big data and advanced analytics services on Azure to optimize licorice production using intelligent sensors on factory line extruders. This “internet of licorice” allows Hershey to dynamically manage production. Deschutes Brewery, an American craft brewery, uses big data and advanced analytics services to drive operational efficiency and saves an average of 48 hours for every batch of beer it brews. Deschutes achieved this by optimizing its production process through real- time data analytics, saving millions of dollars in expansion costs.

  1. Make decisions fast with accessible data insights

Modern banks thrive on data, but accessible insights from this data are the true differentiator. Heartland Bank, a leading New Zealand bank, wanted a new analytics platform that would give its business users direct access to customer credit insights and performance KPIs. Its legacy analytics systems were only accessible to IT, and hence delayed decision-making. Using SQL Server R Services, Hartland built a new, open platform that’s not just accessible for business users, it’s also faster than anything it used before.  “We are using R Server to build a data-first culture at the bank by ensuring that executives have the numbers to back up their instincts,” says Chris Murray, head of Enterprise Data at Heartland Bank.

  1. Cut costs with intelligent demand forecasting

Gaining value from historical data to better predict future needs can increase efficiency and save costs. Carnival Maritime churned an ocean of data to improve demand forecasting. Keeping track of the consumption of water onboard a cruise ship is a complex equation. Carnival used Cortana Intelligence Suite to better predict how much water a ship will need for a specific route, saving each ship more than $200,000.

What to learn more? Join Microsoft for Data Amp, an online event, Wednesday, April 19, 2017, at 8 AM Pacific time. Scott Guthrie, executive vice president, Microsoft Cloud + Enterprise, and Joseph Sirosh, corporate vice president, Microsoft Data Group, will demonstrate what’s possible and provide insights into how your industry is driving innovation in data, intelligence and analytics, and achieving digital transformation.

Register for Data Amp today.

Learn how Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Field Service and Microsoft Azure IoT Suite can transform your service organization today at www.InternetofYourThings.com.

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Product and service innovation starts in the field https://blogs.microsoft.com/iot/2017/04/05/product-and-service-innovation-starts-in-the-field/ Wed, 05 Apr 2017 16:00:43 +0000 http://blogs.microsoft.com/iot/?p=22656 Read more »]]> Wouldn’t it be great if your business could leverage the knowledge of your field service technicians to help drive product innovation? Manufacturing service engineers are on the front lines, dealing with failures and gaining insights into what is failing and why — crucial information for your research and development department. Unfortunately, many service techs are already overloaded, rushing from one appointment to the next, never really knowing what their next issue will require. Heading in with only partial information, they are under pressure to quickly diagnose the issue and develop a repair plan on the spot. Running from call to call makes it difficult to manage parts inventory, and given the fact that they diagnose problems on the fly, it’s next to impossible to show up with just the right part every time. Having to source needed parts means a “two-hour repair” can easily become an all-day affair. Without imposing cumbersome extra duties on technicians, how can manufacturers consistently draw on field experiences to catalyze innovation?

Considering the challenges service technicians face managing day-to-day activities, it’s no wonder that valuable field knowledge isn’t always shared widely. But today, with the advent of technologies like the cloud, ubiquitous mobile devices and the Internet of Things (IoT), manufacturers are changing how field service is delivered and how field experiences are captured.

By streamlining manual, time-consuming tasks like collecting data, detecting the cause of a problem, and identifying the best solution, these technologies are creating opportunities for field service teams to play a more strategic role in manufacturing organizations. Let’s take a closer look at how new technology solutions are paving the way for field service innovation.

Field and equipment data are an untapped source for innovation

A big part of what’s enabling more nimble field service is the growth of connected equipment, a foundational element of IoT.

Because connected products generate and communicate data on their status, they give businesses greater visibility into performance data, like how and when the equipment is used. Connected equipment can automatically send alerts when it detects an issue, helping service organizations troubleshoot potential problems more quickly.

In addition, it’s also easier than ever to collect field service insights. Thanks to cloud-connected mobile devices, field technicians can document repair notes quickly and easily while at a customer site. Those notes can then be automatically aggregated and analyzed to uncover trends and best practices.

When usage data from connected equipment is combined with field service data, an entirely new range of insights becomes available. For instance, correlating equipment performance data with observations from service technicians can shed new light on why a certain type of failure happens, and help pinpoint the best ways to address it. By using this information in the innovation process, R&D teams are better equipped to drive improvements. Similarly, putting IoT data in the context of service data can also guide future product development.

Sandvik Coromant wanted to provide customers with instant feedback for optimizing their assembly line cutting tools. Using sensors embedded in customers’ products, Sandvik Coromant collected temperature, load, vibration and other important data in real time on the machining process. Working with Microsoft, Sandvik Coromant managed this data with Azure IoT Suite, developing a solution that connects its products directly to the Azure IoT cloud. Using Microsoft Dynamics 365 in its call centers enabled Sandvik Coromant to provide customers with recommendations on when to change bits, order new tools or perform maintenance. This service-based revenue stream helped its customers improve efficiency and save millions of dollars.

Amplify innovation with Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Field Service

Integrating connected equipment and mobile solutions into field service programs requires the right kind of
technology. With Microsoft, manufacturers gain the technology foundation needed to connect their devices, gain actionable insights, and address customers’ service needs faster and more effectively.

Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Field Service opens up new possibilities for your service organization. The solution enables dispatch teams to adjust scheduling on the fly with a drag-and-drop schedule board. And service managers can define rules that trigger automatic work orders when a service call is needed. Leveraging Microsoft Dynamics 365 knowledgebase capabilities, the solution provides built-in intelligence on the spot so service techs know the optimal fixes to try and steps to follow. This helps them better troubleshoot issues based on previous resolutions of the same problem and update equipment information in real time. And this built-in intelligence also helps service organizations identify repair and failure patterns to support new predictive maintenance programs, not just faster break-fix service.

Improving field service starts with optimizing your techs’ experience in the field. Imagine if you could arm your field techs with a mobile app that optimizes their day and gives them real-time access to data about customers and equipment. Not only do technicians have the ability to see asset performance indicators and remote diagnostics before they arrive at a customer site, they get repair recommendations based on repair and performance history. This ensures that techs arrive informed, and bring the right tools and the right parts for a first-time fix. While at the customer site, techs don’t need to capture common information like serial numbers because all the information is already in the customer database. Rather than using written notes to communicate wear and tear, techs can update records with pictures taken through the mobile app. All of this drives efficiency and saves technicians valuable time. And this updated information is no longer confined to siloed repair notes — it can be analyzed and passed on to design teams to make the next wave of products smarter and less error-prone.

Building on these foundational capabilities, Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Field Service also provides real-time visibility into the status of IoT-connected devices. With data on performance coming from connected products, service organizations can identify problems and solve them before their customers are aware of the issue. Organizations can explore remote troubleshooting and self-healing repairs options to optimize service resources and dispatch service techs only when required. The enhanced visibility coming from connected products helps field service organizations improve customer satisfaction, first-time fix rates and resource productivity.

Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Field Service can be configured to your organization’s needs, from basic anomaly detection and technician dispatch to more complex, multistep workflows.

Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Field Service provides a number of unique benefits, such as:

  • Fast and easy setup, allowing technicians to register assets by simply plugging in an identification number.
  • A user-friendly interface that allows any business user, from a service tech to a field manager, to get started quickly.
  • Interoperability with nearly any device, enabling teams to leverage the form factors of their choice.
  • Easy-to-create business rules that anyone can set up — no coding required.
  • Seamless operation in one end-to-end solution, so that you don’t have to build it yourself or assemble parts from multiple vendors.

Get started today

Dynamics 365 for Field Service is an end-to-end solution spanning connected devices and Connected Field Service to advanced, intelligent business systems. Leading manufacturers are harnessing the combined experiences of service technicians, data from connected products, and even data from other sources like call center records, to drive product innovation in new ways.

Learn how Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Field Service and Microsoft Azure IoT Suite can transform your service organization today at www.InternetofYourThings.com.

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A behind-the-scenes look into Microsoft’s IoT & AI Insider Labs https://blogs.microsoft.com/iot/2017/03/30/a-behind-the-scenes-look-into-microsofts-iot-ai-insider-labs/ Thu, 30 Mar 2017 13:30:25 +0000 http://blogs.microsoft.com/iot/?p=22605 Read more »]]> The Internet of Things (IoT) and artificial intelligence (AI) are two of the most significant trends in technology. And understanding their direction, and how to embrace them, is something that companies of all sizes want to understand. As a technology leader for over two decades, Microsoft has been at the forefront of IoT and Advanced Analytics (AA) since their inception, and our IoT & AI Insider Labs are the focal point for our customers to embrace these trends, and work hand-in-hand with experts to take their products from proof-of-concept to commercial deployment.

Today on the Microsoft News Center , you can read about what it’s like to come to work with Microsoft engineers in solving the challenges of melding machines and data at the labs, which currently operate in Redmond, Washington, and Shenzhen, China, with another facility opening soon in Munich, Germany. The Microsoft IoT & AI Insider Labs bring together developers with Microsoft and industry experts to tap into the Internet of Things and artificial intelligence and fuel the digital transformation taking place across industries — from energy to retail to robotics.

Each of our labs is hosted by resident experts who will help participants clean up hardware design, debug drivers, work on supporting applications, and demonstrate how to connect devices at scale. They can also help you understand Microsoft’s vast array of IoT, AI, and AA solutions capabilities, and how they can work with your technology to develop insights from data, and turn insights into action. The labs will even help manufacture small-scale hardware runs for devices designed and built by participating organizations.

In the Marie Curie room, named after the Nobel Laureate in physics, developers can build circuit boards from a range of machine tools, 3-D printers and other supplies. In the nearby Ada Lovelace room, named after the 19th century mathematician who wrote the first computing algorithm, coding and testing take center stage. Tools and expertise are on hand to help participants understand how their devices and software will perform in the real world — and correct potentially costly design flaws.

Work comes to fruition in the Mae Jemison room, where physical machines and code merge with analytics tools to help customers understand how to work with the data their solutions create, to glean insights and propel their organizational goals.

There’s a lot more detail in the story, so give it a read and see how Microsoft is working to enable companies in their digital transformation. To learn more about the IoT & AI Insider Labs, visit https://www.microsoftiotinsiderlabs.com/. And for more about what IoT can do for your business, please visit http://www.internetofyourthings.com.

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