The Democratic Party just endorsed a huge jump to the minimum wage of $15/hour—doubling current rates. If enacted, such legislation could significantly impact companies across many industries, from manufacturing to hospitality to food service, among others.
To keep operational expenses sustainable, companies will need make their workflow more efficient by automating tasks that used to be done manually. It’s an evolution of something that, frankly, we’ve already become accustomed to. Think about all the ways automation has become a part of your daily life—like the self-service checkout at the grocery store, boarding pass kiosks at the airport, even wearable fitness trackers that monitor how many steps you walk. Things that, on the whole, make our days run smoother. The Internet of Things (IoT) expands on these efficiencies in several ways with its cloud-based network and streamlined processes.
Here’s how businesses can cut costs with the automation benefits of IoT:
The IoT allows companies to automate routine maintenance or to respond in real-time to problems with devices. This can save money spent on unnecessary maintenance, which can be critical when payroll costs are rising. Sensors attached to your devices alert your field technicians to an important reading or an impending equipment failure. This immediate feedback through IoT is particularly useful in sectors like utilities and commercial real estate, where quick and effective response to equipment failure is necessary for outstanding customer service.
Instead of having staff monitor and reorder inventory, and accommodating the human error that often comes with it, the IoT can check your supply and alert you when it’s low. This saves you significant man hours and payroll spent on tasks like ordering, returning, and reordering. Take this streamlining a step further by activating auto-replenishment on some or all of your core supplies. Auto-replenishment means that your IoT-connected devices automatically reorder parts or supplies as needed. This inventory strategy may also improve customer satisfaction and sales, since it’s often quicker and more thorough than human intervention. Automatic inventory management is particularly useful for restaurants, retailers, hospitals, and any large institution whose function depends on the availability of diverse supplies.
Machine maintenance costs businesses tremendously—a landmark study in 1998 found corrosion costs alone cost U.S. manufacturers $276 billion that year, a figure one analyst believes equals about $1.1 trillion today. (Yes, that’s “trillion” with a “t.”) Even if your costs don’t hit the billions or trillions, it will still help your bottom line to reduce your maintenance expenses.
A great way to do this is to make your machine maintenance smarter with the IoT. The cloud is always aggregating and analyzing data on your devices, including past maintenance and wear patterns. With this information, you can schedule more accurate predictive maintenance on your machinery, preventing expensive mechanical breakdowns and maximizing your technicians’ productivity. Companies that oversee a fleet of trucks or other industrial or commercial machines benefit particularly from this advantage, which cuts down significantly on upkeep costs.
Sometimes the most useful cost-saver is a good ‘ole remote control. Manufacturers of all types will appreciate the ability to use the IoT to turn devices on and off remotely, control factory equipment, and respond immediately to factory metrics. New remote hosting capabilities, including last year’s Toshiba cloud remote control system that can control over 100,000 devices remotely, paved the way for significant advances in remote hosting. A central manager can now control multiple devices across many locations with the touch of a button.
Finally, preempt the need to hire more customer service personnel by improving your customer experience. Perhaps no sector has taken advantage of IoT customer service more than automobile manufacturers who are now outfitting “connected cars” with real-time diagnostic and location data, instant service alerts to customers, and automatic reordering of parts. Drivers no longer have to wait for an in-person inspection to find out what’s wrong with their vehicle—the car itself alerts the cloud, which contacts the garage and orders the part all without the driver ever having to make the trip for the diagnostic. It’s an efficiency customers may one day come to expect, all thanks to IoT.
Though moving to IoT requires an upfront investment in technology, if the costs of employment rise it will be more critical than ever to create a sustainable path for your business that makes the most of innovative technology to cut labor expenses, increase efficiencies, and improve customer satisfaction. And since the IoT commitment is scalable, once you’ve made the switch you just might see your advantage over the lagging competition multiply even if lawmakers choose to throw another mandated wage hike your way.