5 November, 2015

IoT and Your Existing Infrastructure – Is Retrofitting the Best Option?

The Internet of Things (IoT) and the groundswell movement to enable communication with every object, large and small, is a topic that is top of mind in businesses and governments everywhere. When this topic comes up, two concerns always accompany it:

  1. Upgrading to the newest technology costs money
  2. The expensive equipment you already own and is still years, maybe decades, from being at the end of its lifespan


The natural assumption is that, to keep up with the pace of technology and business needs, it’s necessary to spend a lot of money to upgrade to new equipment and infrastructure. In the consumer market, this assumption occurs because the replacement cycle of devices, appliances, and “things” moves very rapidly.


When it comes to office, industrial, and manufacturing equipment, where the replacement cycle is measured in decades and not years, this is simply not a reasonable assumption. Heavy equipment lifespans can range 30 to 40 years, or longer. However, instrumenting and collecting valuable data on equipment has only recently begun. If your business is utilizing equipment that has only been in place for a fraction of its expected lifespan, upgrading to the newest IoT functionality is not an option and won’t be for many years to come.


This is why retrofitting is so important. Retrofitting delivers the ability to implement an IoT solution using your legacy equipment, allowing organizations to keep pace with business and consumer needs, without the associated investment.


While new equipment is increasingly being built with sensors and natively connected to the IoT, it’s significantly more practical for organizations to add sensors through retrofitting their equipment and infrastructure than to upgrade to the latest and greatest. Nearly anything can be retrofitted to deliver the same benefits as IoT-ready equipment at a fraction of the cost.


Using the same retrofitting tools, you can also begin instrumenting things other than equipment. The IoT functionality that can make the biggest difference to our local and state governments is really around enabling infrastructure. Instrumenting our roads, power lines, utility pipelines, and other infrastructure to deliver information creates an incredibly valuable resource. By retrofitting our infrastructure, we can enable real time data to be reported, we can get instant alerts for outages or breakages, collect utilization data for our roads to prioritize repairs or new roads, monitor bridges for stability, or collect and report any other data needed to maintain or improve the infrastructure in any part of the world.


Whether you retrofit or upgrade, you have to do something or risk losing your place in the new market. In 2000, the music industry failed to respond to the shift in technology and the way their customers were consuming their product, and as a result, lost 50% of the market worldwide. Today, we call this Disruption, and every industry is now facing a similar disruption with the skyrocketing growth of the Internet of Things.