T-Systems' Multi IoT Service Platform combines all benefits of the best iot platform providers.
Internet of Things

IT for a new age.

Faster, more precise, more efficient – hardly any technology trend promises such significant productivity increases as the IoT. Experience reports from practice can confirm this.
Author: Sven Hansel
Photos: narvikk/Getty Images, IKON Images/Getty Images, Nick Veasey/Getty Images, Deutsche Telekom AG, PR
An industrial revolution can also bend time sometimes. That’s what happened in England in the middle of the 19th century. Only when the train enabled businessmen to work in the city of London and to travel home easily after work, were the numerous local times in Britain replaced by Railway Standard Time, which was definitive for every line. Deutsche Afrika Linien (DAL), one of the best-known German container lines, are having a similar effect today. Rotterdam – Durban, Cape Town – Montreal, Hamburg – Mauritius, if one of its ships encounters heavy seas on the long passages operated by the company from Hamburg, and the containers are thoroughly shaken by the merciless winds, the event is recorded in the cargo hold with the aid of high technology. Sensitive sensors measure temperature and humidity, watch for vibrations and measure the forces acting on the cargo.
In the worst case, the sensors send a message to the shipping company’s situation center in Hamburg via the mobile phone network. “If there is a refrigerated cargo of fresh fruit, we can inform our customers while the ship is still on the high seas and take steps to save the cargo, for example by changing the temperature setting or repairing failed refrigerated containers more quickly. The customer is informed, and we avoid surprises when the cargo is unloaded at its destination”, says Captain Ralf Stüwe, DAL’s Manager Operations for scheduled routes.
Testbild mit Text
Temperature, humidity, vibrations – sensor technology communicates on board the Deutsche Afrika Linien (DAL) ships constantly with the shipping company headquarters.

Information available in real-time

DAL’s “sensitive” containers are just one piece of the puzzle in the Internet of Things. Through networking, objects can exchange information here in real time. “The availability of this information forms the basis for analyses and represents the best possible value stream within the company and for interacting with partners and suppliers”, state IDC’s analysts, describing this “fourth industrial revolution” – Industry 4.0, as it is referred to, is aimed predominantly at industrial production. By 2020, according to PwC consultants, German industry will be investing a good 40 billion euros per year in Industry 4.0 applications. And a joint study conducted by Fraunhofer IAO and the ICT industry association Bitkom is forecasting possible productivity gains of around 78 billion euros in total by 2025 in six economically significant sectors alone as a result of Industry 4.0.

Always “rough seas” in  shipping

DAL is also pursuing the goal of “productivity increases”. A bitter fight for survival is being waged on the world’s oceans. “That is why we are always looking for ways to further increase our efficiency, raise the load factors on our containers and use continuous track-and-trace with a higher total transport volume to reduce the number of containers that have to be turned around”, explains Captain Stüwe. And it is not just a question of efficiency, as DAL is also trying to improve its service with a pilot project using IoT tracking provided by T-Systems and Telekom. “Container ship, truck, rail or barge – sometimes a globe-trotting container may have to cover up to six or more legs on any one journey. Complex problems can occur during transportation, from breaks in the refrigeration chain via misdirected journeys to people who try to gain unauthorized entry to the container”, says Stüwe as he outlines the various scenarios. Sometimes it’s a service provider who puts the container on the wrong truck, or another time the container gets stuck at a lock on a barge. With continuous tracking, shipping companies will be able to better cushion the effects of such events in the future as they will know the container’s location down to the nearest meter. Temperature, humidity, vibrations – sensor technology communicates on board the Deutsche Afrika Linien (DAL) ships constantly with the shipping company headquarters. Including the state of its contents. Ralf Stüwe expects the entire fleet to be fitted with modern systems within a relatively short space of time: “In a few years, we will be able to experience smart containers across the board.”
Anette Bronder
“A single platform that solves all customer problems does not exist. Therefore, we do not build single solutions. Instead we combine strong proprietary products with leading partner products using our Multi IoT Service Platform.”
Anette Bronder, Director of T-Systems’ Digital Division

Automatic retrieval of operating data

Nils-Peter Halm is similarly confident as he surveys the future. “The boss of our company, Andreas Pfannenberg, is even an ambassador for the Hamburg Industry 4.0 discussion platform, and he wants to drive IoT technologies for new business processes forward”, explains the CTO of Hamburg’s mid-sized company Pfannenberg. 450 employees in twelve countries make electrical parts for global industry: air conditioning for switching cabinets, signal technology or recooling systems – Pfannenberg ensures, for example, that the controls for the X-ray machines at airports around the world are reliably cooled with the aid of their air to water heat exchangers. The term “reliably” is now being raised to a new level in this family business by means of an IoT solution. Together with Deutsche Telekom, the company has developed a system which reads the operating data from air conditioning units through a GSM mobile network interface, transfers them to the secure cloud and has the information evaluated there. This enables Pfannenberg to track the condition of air conditioning units around the world and, for example, to intervene earlier if a unit is in danger of failing – a high service gain in view of the situations in which these units perform their services. “It’s also a benefit in terms of predictive maintenance. In this way, the units can be serviced as and when needed and no longer at defined, arbitrary intervals not derived from their real-time condition”, the CTO reports.

Test scenarios best in the cloud

So it’s a question of small projects having a major effect in the IoT? “That’s the right way”, says Lynn Thorenz, analyst at the market research company, IDC from Frankfurt. “Companies have to weigh up technically feasible models and those that make long-term sense. But as there is still a lack of empirical data in this new area, companies simply have to try out their ideas. The opportunities for doing so are better than ever on the basis of cloud services: Firstly, new solutions can be tested even with your own real-time data without affecting the running operation of plants and systems, secondly, the investments required for test scenarios are low and thirdly, it is often possible to put the tests into practice surprisingly quickly”. All in all, says the expert: “no comparison with the old IT world”.
Baggage control x-ray equipment
Thus, baggage control x-ray equipment at airports also “stays cool”, because the equipment controls are constantly cooled using air and water heat exchangers from Hamburg electrical engineering specialists Pfannenberg.
However, what the new IT world needs are suitable “turbochargers” with which these projects can be actually implemented. Because the openness which the heavily networked IoT makes absolutely essential, cannot even be remotely portrayed in legacy systems. Deutsche Telekom’s Multi IoT Service Platform (MISP), for example, is more suited for such applications. It combines the advantages of the best platform suppliers in the Internet of Things (IoT) in a single product – for example, with Open Telekom Cloud, Microsoft Azure, the Cloud of Things and Cisco InterCloud or IoT platforms from Huawei. With this platform, users can tackle their IoT projects very individually, giving the best possible support to their existing or planned business model. ”A single platform that solves all customer problems does not exist. Therefore we do not build stand-alone solutions. Instead we combine strong proprietary products with leading partner products using our multi IoT service platform.” says Anette Bronder, Managing Director of T-Systems’ Digital Division. “We no longer only develop IT solutions with partners, but rather business models for our customers, offering easy to use, secure, complete packages from a single source.”

Further articles