M2M: What is Machine to Machine and how does it impact SMEs?

With the development of various emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things, Big Data, among others, it has been achieved that machines themselves can communicate with each other, acting autonomously without the need for an operator in between.

This is how M2M arises, something that we used to see in movies and never thought it was coming.

Machines talking to machines? Yes, nowadays it is something that moves the world; sometimes we don’t even realise it!

In short, these innovations serve to improve the productivity of any type of industry; including the ones SME.

What is M2M communication?

M2M is an acronym that stands for “machine to machine“. Its concept encompasses all technology that supports the exchange of information between devices, i.e. that send data and communicate.

 

This connectivity between machines is autonomous; no human intervention is required for the data transmission operation to be successful.

In this way, the management of your SME’s production processes will move to a digital plane.

Are M2M and IoT the same thing?

While it is true that both technologies are closely related, they are not the same. Both are part of a much broader concept and are complementary.

The Internet of Things (IoT) achieves the interconnection of a system of devices wirelessly, where they automatically exchange and analyse data in the cloud.

 

Simply put, IoT is enabled by integrating multiple M2M devices and using strategic platforms for information processing.

Benefits of M2M for SMEs

One of the key business strategies that successful small and medium-sized enterprises apply is to invest to keep up with cutting-edge equipment and technology that will give your SME greater competitiveness and a larger market share. Among the benefits that M2M brings are the following:

  • Mass remote control
    Thanks to management through the use of applications or the web, SMEs can see all their M2M equipment at all times and in real time, being able to control its operation, detect or resolve problems.
  • Cost reduction
    The application of automatic communication technologies promotes operational efficiency, lowering production, invoicing and logistics costs and increasing sales.
  • Process automation
    Due to artificial intelligence, your business processes will become increasingly automatic, avoiding the errors of manual operators.
  • Better monitoring of your business
    By obtaining real-time information on the operation of your equipment – status, consumption, activity reports – you will be able to set particular notifications and generate reports on a specific schedule.
  • Reduced downtime
    Using this type of innovation in your SME allows you to anticipate breakdowns by detecting the first error warnings of a possible future failure.
  • Maximum utilisation of business resources
    If your operations are more efficient, each procedure carried out will make the most of the resource used, making the most of it and, in this way, you will be reducing the waste of inputs. Very important!

 

What types of connectivity exist between machines?

There are multiple types of connectivity between devices, here are the most commonly used:

  • RFID or radio frequency identification: Its limitation is that, commonly, they have a maximum range of 10 metres.
  • Bluetooth: One of the wireless ways, technology that is not being used much, but it is still in use with a range of 10 to 20 metres.
  • Wifi: This connectivity is very fashionable, with a range of 50 metres it is a good intra-company option.
  • Low frequency: Excellent option, up to 1000 km.
  • And finally, there is the GSM network (with SIM cards) and satellite, both of which have a global range. Each can be adapted to a specific situation – the choice is yours!

Industries 4.0: M2M application

If you live in a smart city or have even read about them, you may have noticed that there are traffic lights that send information to other traffic lights through sensors that count the number of cars passing through an avenue, thereby changing the signal time to red or green to free the flow of vehicles.

Here are other interesting cases:

  • Vending machines: today, there are interconnected vending machines, which notify distributors about the status of product replenishment or out of stock.
  • In industry: as we have already mentioned, in SMEs or even large companies, it is common to keep many machines connected to each other to send information that automatically optimises processes. In fact, if one of these machines breaks down, it could be self-repairing.

In general terms, M2M industrial applications are:

  • Implementation of just-in-time methods;
  • Spare parts replenishment request procedure;
  • End-of-process notification;
  • automated maintenance;
  • Intelligent stock control and management;
  • Collection and forwarding of information for processing by other equipment.
  • Healthcare: Hospitals and clinics have been automating their processes for some years to improve efficiency and safety for the health of their patients. For example, there are machines connected to an M2M device that are able to react faster than a person. If a patient has a steady drop in vital signs, they can automatically administer oxygen upon arrival of healthcare staff.

If you want your business to improve efficiency and performance levels that allow you to take on big challenges and production challenges you once thought impossible, then you can’t afford not to invest in M2M.

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