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How Remote Device Access Impacts Internet Of Things

Author: Alex Campbell
Alex Campbell Article author

All over the world and across practically every industry, IoT enables the freedom to work remotely. In the post-pandemic world, organizations that desire to stay ahead of the curve constantly look for innovative ways to take advantage of the huge potential of IoT.

One of its incredibly powerful elements is the capability to securely access and control a large volume of remote devices from any location in the world with Internet access. IoT remote control devices mitigate expenses by providing users with deeper insight into their assets.

Businesses spanning a vast variety of industries depend greatly on remotely accessing IoT devices to effectively run their organizations.

In this article, we will review the role of remote IoT control from the perspective of three IoT-heavy industries: Retail & Hospitality, Transportation & Logistics, OEM and Manufacturing — companies within these sectors take the most advantage of IoT remote devices by streamlining operations and providing faster customer service experiences.

Industries taking advantage of remote IoT device control

Industries that rely heavily on remotely controlled IoT devices and successfully leverage benefits of the remote access include:

  1. The Transportation & Logistics Industry
  2. The Retail & Hospitality Industry
  3. The OEM & Manufacturing Industry

The Transportation & Logistics Industry

IoT remote devices in transportation & logistics

Truck drivers utilize handheld computers like tablets and RFID readers for route management and organization. Simultaneously, the business employing the driver depends on vehicle-mounted computers (called ELDs) to monitor drivers and the precious cargo they’re transporting.

Accumulated insight from every device provides real-time information. This initiates backend system processes for supply chain orders and inventory management. Additionally, many organizations implement remote IoT control systems as a means of managing inventory, tracking supply volumes, preventing under/overloading, remotely monitoring the condition of products, and having the ability to know exactly where all goods are at all times.

The Retail & Hospitality Industry

IoT remote devices in retail & hospitality

Many in-store workforces require handheld devices to check pricing, product availability, and additional product information when providing real-time customer service and support. Similarly, POS systems connect to backend systems that automate product orders and inventory management.

Numerous outlets and restaurants rely on Android devices as their POS systems, which allows them to transform any location into a convenient point of sale. Retailers continue to use digital displays for in-store marketing at an ever-growing rate. Also, hotel and theme park kiosks provide quick and convenient customer assistance in digital information about venues, directions, ticket availability, and more.

The OEM & Manufacturing Industry

IoT remote devices in OEM & manufacturing

After a sale, organizations can track how in-the-field products perform. Both B2C and B2B products have IoT functionality built directly into the device. The most popular IoT products in 2022 encompass smart fire alarms, smart refrigerators, smartwatches, smart security cameras, and security systems, smart door locks, medical sensors, fitness trackers, smart bicycles, etc.

Of course, IoT-enabled devices can also be found all over today’s manufacturing shop floors, as many of these devices issue alerts when machine sensors signal a change in operational performance.

Risks of neglecting remote IoT devices access

Businesses require secure and reliable remote access and support solutions that make sure the uptime and usability of their IoT devices function effectively. This is because there is just too much money at stake to risk.

One example is the retail industry. No matter if a business sells coffee, clothing, or event tickets, its POS systems are integral to an effective customer-facing experience. When the POS fails to work properly, every other link in the sales chain suffers, and the business has a much harder time generating revenue. Simultaneously, customer satisfaction plummets dangerously low.

According to The Standish Group, POS outages at retail locations have an average cost of $282,000 per hour. Even small to medium-sized retailers can suffer losses of $21,000 per hour during a POS outage (according to research by Redcentric).

For manufacturers, the analyst firm Aberdeen estimates the cost consequences of unplanned downtime at up to $260,000 per hour. To define the cost your company may incur (for those who manufacture items), just multiply the number of downtime hours, by the number of impacted workers, by their average hourly salary — then add the value of potential canceled orders.

As one soon realizes, regardless of whether orders are canceled or not, downtime gets expensive — fast.

When it comes to transportation and logistics businesses, the pandemic clearly defines how much revenue is at stake throughout the supply chain if operations don’t function as intended, reaching hundreds of billions of dollars in lost revenue when one takes into consideration all involved stakeholders (encompassing consumers, retailers, logistics companies, and manufacturing partners).

How remote access to IoT devices over the Internet works

Establishing secure remote access to an IoT device is fundamental to effectively harnessing the Internet of Things:

  • • The end-users need to remotely access and control an IoT device using an app or web browser;
  • • Service partners must have access to devices that have been installed in the corresponding remote location;
  • • Product support teams need the ability to log onto installed devices located on customer sites.

User interfaces (UIs) presented as web applications are standard in IoT edge devices. They are used to connect to embedded systems, are utilized in configuration and control, and monitor devices from smartphones, PCs, and tablets.

The modern-day web-based UI only require an HTTP(S) connection between the web server running on the device and the web browser, which makes them ideal for remote IoT control.

But the client’s PC or mobile device’s web browser requires the ability to create network connections to the web server of the IoT device.

This can only be managed if:

  • • The IoT device is on the same network as the device running the web browser.
  • • The network containing the server and client is linked.
  • • The IoT device can be accessed directly via an internet connection.

Unfortunately, when it comes to trying to remotely connect to IoT devices behind firewalls, this usually isn’t the case when put into practice. IoT edge devices in the field typically connect with private networks surrounded by NAT routers or firewalls. This is especially the case for industrial IoT devices, as they are almost always behind a NAT router.

Additionally, IoT devices connected to mobile 4G/LTE networks (in a majority of use cases) lack public IP addresses — meaning they aren’t accessible directly. Hence, while said devices can create connections to servers on the internet, they can’t access the device’s web server from the outside without supplementary measures.

In regards to software, all IoT devices must be cared for after the initial deployment on a customer’s premise. This includes managing IoT devices remotely, performing remote updates to IoT devices, and giving external access to specific ports of the device. Most frequently, there are many methods of remotely accessing embedded IoT devices via the Internet. This includes:

  • • SSH connections
  • • VPN connections
  • • Proxy connections
  • RDP connections etc.

Virtual Private Network (VPN) and port forwarding are well-known and mature technologies that enable internet-based remote computer and network access to control remote IoT existing behind firewalls or NAT routers.

Using cellular IoT to control devices remotely

Regardless of which device users manage or the location where it gets deployed, they have the option to embed a cellular IoT solution to configure a total remote control. Essential configuration updates and bug fixes can be transmitted to another device via the cloud, with the added benefit of cloud-based reporting to monitor vitals proactively.

This lets users fully control and manage their operations from anywhere around the globe, providing the opportunity to:

  • • Remotely control IoT devices from any location. Establish interconnected systems that allow users to remotely control a fleet of devices from anywhere in the world.
  • • Promptly deal with bugs. Eliminate the need to recall devices that have been already sent to the field by patching them with OTA firmware updates.
  • • Maintenance prediction. Make the most of connected devices’ uptime by proactively monitoring key sensor data, and receiving potential failure alerts before they happen.