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New business models thanks to the IoT

by PerspectiveInnovate02/05/2018

New business models thanks to the IoT
Connecting objects and devices to the internet to make them smarter and use them more cleverly: this, in a nutshell, is the big advantage of the Internet of Things (IoT). There is no lack of possible applications, as can be seen from the examples below.

Machine maintenance via the IoT

TVH from Waregem is the world leader in spare parts for logistics equipment, industrial and agricultural vehicles. The company is top of the class when it comes to digital business. The IoT is part of this. “Around 10,000 machines in our rental range are connected to the internet,” says Chief Business Innovation Officer Kalman Tiboldi. “They are fitted with sensors which send data on the use of the machines to a smart IoT platform.”

Predictive maintenance

“After analyzing this data, we can give our customers targeted advice,”  Tiboldi explains, “among other things on how they can use these machines most efficiently.” The main aim is to optimize the service provision and the upkeep of plant and machinery. “Analyzing the data makes it possible to schedule preventive maintenance, based on statistical models. And we want to go further, among other things by offering predictive maintenance. That would enable us to take action on a specific machine even before a problem occurs.”

Optimal customer experience

The aim of the project is obvious. TVH wants to provide customers with optimal services as efficiently as possible. To improve customer service, the company offers its customers access to the IoT platform. “There they can consult information about the machines that they hire. At the same time, the platform is the place where we can raise the customer experience to a higher level.”

The IoT helps us give the customer targeted advice.

- Kalman Tiboldi

Reading meters from a distance

Antargaz supplies propane gas in tanks, butane and propane gas in bottles and natural gas. The company has recently started reading the meters of an initial group of their propane gas network customers automatically by means of an IoT solution. A propane gas network is a network of one or more gas meters that are supplied from one common surface or underground propane gas tank. “In the past we had to send someone along to read the meters,” says Kristof Laenen, Commercial Manager at Antargaz. “Or we had to ask the customer to pass on the correct information.” In practice that was not always easy. “Customers sometimes forgot to send through the meter reading, so we didn’t have the necessary data. Or worse still, they sent through incorrect data. That led to errors in billing and complaints from customers.”

Smoother billing

In practical terms, the Antargaz meters are fitted with a sensor that is connected to the internet. That allows the company to take the current meter reading from a distance. With the IoT project, Antargaz kills two birds with one stone. The automation not only makes the company’s own administration more efficient, but billing is smoother and more accurate too. The result? Greater customer satisfaction.

Everyone wins

“Thanks to the IoT, we can offer customers with a propane gas network a better service,” says Maarten Engelbeen, Operations Analyst at Antargaz. “Meters are read fully automatically. That means we can work faster and more accurately.” Antargaz no longer has to send customers a reply card and the data noted no longer has to be entered into its computers manually. “The annual physical inspection by one of our staff – at the customer’s – is no longer necessary, either.” Everyone wins: both the customer and Antargaz.

The IoT leads to accurate administration and hence more satisfied customers.

Maarten Engelbeen

Smarter bike sharing via app

The Mobit bike sharing scheme in Mechelen, Kortrijk, Hasselt and Genk is backed up by a smart IoT solution, as well. “We are, first and foremost, an IoT company and not just a bicycle hire firm,” says co-founder and Business Development Manager Alexander De Bièvre. “The bicycles are the logical consequence of our starting point: a smart solution for better and more sustainable mobility in the town.”

Connected bicycles

Using a Mobit bicycle is very easy. The customer installs the app on their smartphone, registers as a user and can take the bicycle immediately. There is a GPS device and a sensor in the bicycle lock that are connected to the internet. “The customer makes a connection with the bike using his smartphone and this opens the lock,” Alexander De Bièvre explains. “Via the internet connection and the GPS device, we know where the bike is.” The app contains a payment module and the customer settles the bill for using the bike straight away.

User friendliness first

“With Mobit we are focusing on the last mile,” De Bièvre goes on. “With public transport you usually arrive near your destination, but not exactly where you need to be. Then it’s just handy to use a fast, cheap bicycle for the last part of your journey.” Thanks to the IoT application, Mobit provides a particularly user-friendly solution. The startup is not by any means lacking in plans. “We want to serve as many Belgian towns and villages as possible with our model,” they say. “But we also have plans for other countries.”

The IoT enables us to offer total convenience: just open the app and cycle off.

-Alexander De Bièvre

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