Let’s talk about the importance of fleet management. First, a few definitions.
IoT: Internet of Things. Physical objects that are able to connect over the internet. These objects must be equipped with sensors, processing capability and software.
Fleet: a collection of fielded IoT devices.
Device: any internet-connected device with a microcontroller or a processor, for instance temperature sensors, coffee machines, drinks/snacks/candy vending machines, cars, planes, security cameras, industrial robots, and MRI and EKG machines.
Fleet management is essential – I can’t stress this enough! – to the success of your IoT project. Here are 7 reasons why:
1. Fleet management allows you to learn from your devices and usage patterns.
This is the essence of fleet management – listening for fleet metrics and events, and learning so you can act on devices timely and appropriately. Both the monitoring and the acting are usually performed remotely.
You can receive performance and usage metrics, monitor health, detect problems or unusual behaviors, collect device logs and error codes, or listen for fleet events. It's also possible to set up alarms and notifications. Quite importantly, such alarms can be used to trigger automatic actions. All of these are possible based on the collected data and rules that you determine.
2. Fleet management allows you to control the fleet with a mobile app.
Get an instant overview with fleet statistics, such as the state and health of your fleet. Check important variables like battery level, connection status and software version as they happen. Then remotely configure, control, set properties, troubleshoot, reboot, perform factory resets, locate, or take other actions. In a nutshell, you can easily apply corrections and/or improvements through a mobile app.
3. Fleet management allows over-the-air (OTA) software updates.
OTA updates are an integral part of fleet management. With OTA, you can update firmware and other software remotely and wirelessly. This is important not only because devices can always have bug fixes and the latest and greatest functionality. But also from a security standpoint: technicians need a cost-effective means of installing security patches to devices, often spread throughout a large area. It is possible to automate this process so devices are continually updated, easily and flawlessly.
4. Fleet management allows you to organize your fleet into groups.
You can organize your fleet into groups that make sense to your operation. According to the criteria that you define, you can use attributes such as device location, type of merchandise, device capabilities, device type, software version, security requirements or any other attribute. Then you can use those groups to visualize group statistics, grant or remove access permissions, enact group-wide interventions, and essentially manage each group individually.
5. Fleet management allows you to query your fleet.
You can gain valuable insight by querying your fleet. You can query on device attributes or the latest state (e.g. location, connection status, pressure sensor readouts) or on any other recorded attribute or combinations. You can query for individual devices or multiple devices based on criteria that you define. You can get stats for one device or any convenient set of devices. For sets, you can get a variety of stats, such as counts, averages and sensor measurements.
6. Fleet management allows you to reach devices behind firewalls.
Sometimes devices are located inside a customer's corporate intranet and behind firewalls. With secure tunneling technology you can connect with those devices without the need to constantly reconfigure firewalls. Secure tunneling establishes a bidirectional, encrypted connection between a technician's computer and one or more devices. This is especially useful for quickly diagnosing, troubleshooting, delivering fixes and transferring files. More advantages: secure tunneling reduces repair costs, downtime and avoids reputation hits.
7. Fleet management allows you to act on devices in bulk.
IoT fleets may consist of hundreds, thousands, even millions of devices. The sheer size of some fleets makes the value of bulk interventions self evident. This includes features such as automatic device onboarding and bulk device registration. With fleet management you can interact with your devices in bulk or in groups or you can find particular devices and act on them individually.
Mission effectiveness, fleet security, device performance, device downtime, operational costs – all of these can be improved by fleet management. The reasons are manifold, but it boils down to this: you want to be continuously monitoring fielded devices, and acting on them. Bear in mind that fleet management is an ongoing activity because events and change happen all the time, and fleet history accumulates every day.