Book Image

Implementing Cellular IoT Solutions for Digital Transformation

By : Dennis McCain
Book Image

Implementing Cellular IoT Solutions for Digital Transformation

By: Dennis McCain

Overview of this book

Even if you’re an IoT technology manager with a sound understanding of wireless local area network technologies like Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, you may face many unique challenges when implementing a wireless wide area network (WWAN) IoT solution with cellular technologies with respect to choosing the optimal IoT device, cellular connectivity, and architecture. To help you overcome such roadblocks, this digital transformation book guides you in implementing a robust, end-to-end cellular IoT solution using best practices for all aspects of managing the IoT solution. Starting with an introduction to the top IoT markets and solutions in the context of an enterprise’s digital transformation, this book will show you how this leads to cost savings and new business models. You’ll grasp all you need to know about the IoT system components, life cycle, and best practices for implementing an IoT solution. While the book explains all the leading IoT wireless technologies, the focus is on LTE and 5G cellular technologies. With a review of real-world cellular IoT solution case studies and future IoT trends, you'll be ready to work with wireless IoT technologies, devices, and architectures. By the end of this book, you'll be able to identify the best wireless technologies for your IoT use cases and successfully implement cellular IoT solutions addressing key issues in the solution life cycle.
Table of Contents (16 chapters)
Part 1: Entering the World of the Internet of Things
Part 2: Deep Dive into Cellular IoT Solutions
Part 3: Cellular IoT Solution Life Cycle and Future Trends

Understanding IoT markets

As of this writing, the top five enterprise IoT market segments are as follows:

  1. Transportation
  2. Supply chain logistics
  3. Industrial and manufacturing
  4. Healthcare
  5. Energy/utilities

In this section, we will review and define each of these segments and provide insights into how IoT is transforming these markets with some example IoT applications.


Transportation includes both automotive connected cars and enterprise logistics, which depend on air, rail, and truck transportation. As we will discuss in the next section on the logistics market, IoT asset monitoring solutions in transportation are a critical part of improving efficiencies in supply-chain logistics. Concerning connected cars, Cisco estimated that connected vehicle applications will be the fastest-growing IoT market with a 30% compound annual growth rate (source: Cisco 2020). The number of connected cars is projected to be over 400 million by 2025 (source: Statista 2021). In terms of fleet management, IoT solutions enable an enterprise to better manage fuel consumption, optimize routes, and maintain its fleet to reduce operational expenses and increase productivity. Fleet management IoT solutions also improve fleet safety and compliance with the new electronic logging device (ELD) government mandates, which further improves overall fleet safety. A typical IoT solution for fleet management would include a vehicle location tracking device with the capability of monitoring vehicle maintenance and engine runtimes. Typically, there is also a gateway (ELD) device to automatically log drive times, which avoids the human error of manual drive logs. Many fleet management solutions now also include both security cameras and dash cameras to monitor both the driver’s behavior and the behavior of other drivers on the road for potential accident investigations and security. Almost all key components of a fleet, including location, vehicle behavior, engine maintenance/performance, idle time, cargo status, driver behavior, and security events, can be monitored with an IoT solution.

Nearly all new cars have integrated telematic IoT connectivity, which enables not only in-vehicle infotainment applications but also embedded communications, vehicle updates, and predictive maintenance, which improves the customer experience and provides new service business models for automotive OEMs. This IoT connectivity has been extended further to include autonomous driving and vehicle communication with other vehicles, city infrastructure, pedestrians, and cloud applications, which has been termed Cellular V2X (C-V2X). As we will discuss in Chapter 5, Validating 5G with IoT, low-latency, high-bandwidth 5G cellular technologies play a critical role in enabling these new connected car applications. Also included in the connected car IoT market are several IoT use cases based on the installation of after-market IoT gateways or dash cameras in the vehicle. For example, several insurance companies now offer insurance discounts to drivers with good driving behavior who use IoT sensor devices in their vehicles that detect speed, hard braking, and hard acceleration. Much like the fleet management IoT applications described earlier, dash camera applications can improve the safety and security of drivers.

Supply chain logistics

As shown in Figure 1.4, supply chain logistics is the networked infrastructure of suppliers, transportation, production, warehousing, and stock inventory that provides the end-to-end connection between suppliers and wholesale/retail customers:

Figure 1.4 – Supply chain logistics IoT use cases

Figure 1.4 – Supply chain logistics IoT use cases

The importance of supply chain logistics to the global economy was made clear with the recent pandemic in which shortages in semiconductor chips and raw materials have impacted all areas of the global economy, especially manufacturing. As shown in the preceding figure, with IoT technologies, it is now possible to have end-to-end visibility of the entire supply chain from the raw materials to the end customer. The supply chain disruptions because of the pandemic have been the impetus for change in supply chain operations worldwide and have increased the focus on IoT solutions to increase efficiencies and overall visibility. The global supply chain management market size was valued at USD 16.64 billion in 2021 and is expected to expand at a CAGR of 10.8% from 2022 to 2028 (source: Grand View Research 2022). There are three key areas of supply chain logistics where IoT solutions can have the most impact. These are as follows:

  • Inventory/warehouse management
  • Asset monitoring
  • Transportation and fleet management

Let’s go into more detail on the IoT solutions deployed in these areas of the supply chain.

Inventory/warehouse management

The most common application of IoT in supply chain logistics is in the area of inventory and warehouse management, where IoT solutions can not only track incoming and outgoing shipments but also manage inventory levels by working with enterprise ordering and inventory management systems:

Figure 1.5 – IoT solutions in inventory/warehouse management

Figure 1.5 – IoT solutions in inventory/warehouse management

One of the fundamental needs in supply chain logistics is being able to locate and manage warehouse inventory in near real-time, which improves the visibility/traceability of stock and provides customers with more predictable orders and lead times. Before the advent of IoT solutions, warehouse inventory management was a mostly manual process requiring lots of people to locate, track, and report inventory coming in and out of a warehouse or distribution center.

With an IoT solution, several wireless and device technologies significantly improve the visibility and management of warehouse inventory. Today, cellular or Wi-Fi-connected barcode scanners are commonplace to track inventory, but there are also RFID and Bluetooth tags attached to assets that can automatically provide both the location and status (for example, temperature) of inventory within the warehouse. As part of an IoT solution, RFID readers and Bluetooth location beacons are placed strategically in warehouse and distribution centers to automatically track/monitor inventory along the supply chain and report back to the enterprise IoT platform. This not only increases the visibility of the inventory but also reduces the errors associated with manual processes and enables operational cost savings with reduced workloads.

Asset monitoring

In the context of a complete supply chain logistics IoT solution, it is important to not only manage/monitor inventory and material in warehouses but also along the entire supply chain from the factory to the end customer, as shown in the following figure:

Figure 1.6 – IoT solutions in supply chain asset monitoring

Figure 1.6 – IoT solutions in supply chain asset monitoring

Especially with high-value assets, products, and pharmaceuticals, asset monitoring along the supply chain is an important IoT use case that is becoming more common as the cost of wireless monitoring devices with sensors are decreasing. As part of an IoT solution, a low-cost/disposable wireless monitoring device is attached to the target asset, and it reports to an IoT platform either periodically or based on events (for example, movement, sensor threshold exceeded, tamper, and shock). This not only provides visibility along the supply chain but also provides traceability for issues on the journey (for example, theft) and validates the integrity of the asset from the source to the destination. In some IoT solutions, the trace of an asset’s journey and everything that has happened to it along the way are sent to private blockchain networks as an immutable record of the asset’s integrity.

Transportation and fleet management

Transportation and fleet management is the third area of supply chain logistics where an IoT solution can have a significant impact in terms of operational cost savings and asset integrity. As shown in the following figure, fleet management IoT solutions can provide data on both the cargo location and environment, as well as the vehicle’s health:

Figure 1.7 – IoT solutions in transportation/fleet management

Figure 1.7 – IoT solutions in transportation/fleet management

As part of an IoT fleet management solution, IoT provides not only the shipment location and environmental conditions but also the vehicle condition, which combines fleet management with supply chain visibility/monitoring. Domestically, this fleet is generally trucks and trailers, which would have integrated IoT devices for cargo tracking and vehicle monitoring, as shown in the preceding figure, but there are several modes of transportation in supply chains including air, sea, and rail where supply chain visibility is important. The challenge is to provide shipment visibility and status across all modes and carriers globally. A global IoT solution using a global WWAN cellular technology in combination with an appropriate IoT shipment monitoring device with data logging can address this challenge by providing the traceability and asset integrity validation discussed earlier. This use case will be discussed in more detail in a case study in Chapter 8, Implementing an IoT Solution with Case Studies, where we will cover global cellular technologies and devices as part of a supply chain logistics IoT solution.

Industrial and manufacturing

Earlier, we discussed how IIoT and Industry 4.0 are transforming the manufacturing industry by improving workflow efficiencies and factory automation. Manufacturing is the sector most affected by IoT, with a potential economic impact of $3.9 trillion by 2025 (source: McKinsey Global Institute). According to GE, 58% of manufacturers say IoT is required to digitally transform industrial operations (source: GE), with 80% of industrial manufacturing companies having adopted IoT in some way (source: Security Today).

There are three main reasons why production/manufacturing is one of the leading IoT markets. First, IoT solutions enable production machine monitoring and predictive maintenance, even in older factories without significant automation saving downtime. Retrofitted IoT remote connectivity and sensors on machines in a factory allow operators to quickly identify issues and implement predictive maintenance on the machine, minimizing downtime and significantly improving production efficiency. Moreover, machine learning and artificial intelligence in the IoT devices connected to machines can identify anomalous patterns and alert an operator to act. As an example, IoT vibration monitoring of a machine can be used to identify unusual behavior such as an impending machine bearing failure before it is a costly machine failure and production stopper. Second, IoT enables remote production control of machines, where operators can remotely fix/tune many performance issues without hindering the production flow. In this case, a single operator can monitor and control several machines, which reduces the factory workload and enables operational cost savings. With low-latency 5G technologies in the IoT solution, this monitoring and control can be near real-time, increasing operational efficiency. Finally, IoT enables industrial robotics, which reduces factory workloads and increases efficiency at all stages of manufacturing, and with 5G technologies in the IoT solution, there is more flexibility and mobility of production lines where robots can be placed on the factory floor with safer human-robot interactions.


With the recent pandemic and the increased need for RPM, IoT solutions have been a focus in healthcare. Implementing IoT RPM solutions can offload our critical healthcare infrastructure and foster better patient care:

Figure 1.8 – IoT solutions in healthcare RPM

Figure 1.8 – IoT solutions in healthcare RPM

IoT in healthcare has been termed the Internet of Medical Things (IoMT) and includes RPM-connected devices and applications, as well as wearables. As shown in Figure 1.8, with RPM, wireless medical devices such as blood pressure monitors, glucose monitors, oximeters, and ECGs can be connected wirelessly typically through an IoT gateway to the internet for evaluation by a medical professional. RPM with IoMT lends itself to many healthcare “as-a-service” telemedicine models, and with low-latency and highly reliable 5G technologies, remote and robotic-assisted surgeries have been proven to work well, which overcomes geographic limitations for surgical procedures in remote areas. The importance of RPM and care was clear with the recent COVID-19 pandemic, where care facilities and hospitals were overwhelmed with patients. Certainly, IoT-enabled RPM with patients at home would have reduced the strain on our healthcare infrastructure. With the aging population and chronic care monitoring becoming more prevalent, IoMT services will become more important in the next 5 years. Deloitte says that the IoMT market will reach $158.1 billion in 2022, and Goldman Sachs claims that healthcare organizations save $300 billion annually from RPM and other technological benefits.


Much like IIoT, IoT solutions are transforming our utility infrastructure from generation and storage to transmission, distribution, and consumption, as shown in the following figure:

Figure 1.9 – IoT solutions in the Smart Grid

Figure 1.9 – IoT solutions in the Smart Grid

IoT in energy and utilities has been termed the Smart Grid. With IoT-enabled remote monitoring and control of the energy grid infrastructure, the overall network efficiency and resiliency from generation to transmission and distribution and ultimately businesses and homes can be optimized. Some Smart Grid IoT applications include connected electric meters, real-time transmission/distribution outage notifications and restorations, remote monitoring/control of power generation and storage, and dynamic load distribution. Especially with aging utility infrastructure and new forms of energy generation, storage, and distribution, the Smart Grid will become even more critical in the next 5 years. According to Future Market Insights in 2022, IoT in the utility market is extrapolated to reach a value of $129.1 billion by 2032. The global focus on dramatically reducing carbon emissions is another strong driver for this growth in the Smart Grid. Government mandates in carbon emission reductions from power generation plants drive the need for constant monitoring enabled by IoT.

In all the markets where IoT is deployed, the huge amount of data garnered from these deployments is valuable not only for business insights and decision frameworks but also as a product. Within the context of an enterprise IoT solution, data analytics and artificial intelligence can be used to identify trends and anomalies in the underlying business process monitored/controlled by the IoT solution. This analysis can be used to improve workflow efficiencies, reduce operational costs, and improve equipment maintenance, as discussed earlier. This data can also be shared with customers either directly or through Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) to the enterprise IoT application. This improves the customer experience with the IoT solution and allows customers to further develop and innovate around the IoT data with their customers.