IoT Blog
IoT Blog

Can Washing Machine OEMs Build IoT Apps Without Worrying About Their IoT Infrastructure?

by Remy Marcotorchino, Director of Marketing, Industrial & Infrastructure
In our past blog, How Commercial Washing Machine OEMs Benefit from the Industrial IoT, we examined how Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) of commercial washing machines can use the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) to improve their equipment’s performance, increase operational efficiency, create new revenue lines, and otherwise generate value in new ways for their customers, their partners, and themselves. 

Commercial washing machine OEMs who can develop IoT laundry systems that generate value in new ways stand to benefit significantly, as growth in the global market for commercial washing machines is expected to accelerate over the coming years. Analyst company Technavio, for example, forecasts that the growth rate of the commercial washing machine market will increase from a 4.95% growth rate in 2019 to a 6.07% growth rate in 2022, for a total market value of $1.9 billion. 

This growth is being driven by hospitality sector growth as well as an increase in the number of laundromats, which stems from growing demand for laundry services from dual-income households. Commercial washing machine OEMs like Girbau, Alliance Laundry Systems, Onnera Group, and Dexter Laundry can use commercial laundry innovations, such as IoT laundry systems, to help them capture this growth. In addition, IoT laundry systems can help OEMs address water and other natural resource constraints, rising energy costs, growing customer demand for dynamic pricing, and other issues that might hinder their growth.

However, as they move forward in developing IoT applications that can help them realize these benefits, many commercial washing machine OEMs have found that building and deploying the necessary Industrial IoT infrastructure that can facilitate the collection, processing and transmission of data from their washing machines to the cloud, is a significantly difficult and risky undertaking.

Creating an IoT Laundry System Application Isn’t Easy

The challenges that have slowed or even stopped washing machine OEMs as they have explored or begun working to use the Industrial IoT to build and deploy remote monitoring, predictive maintenance, equipment-as-a-service, and other commercial laundry services and innovations, include: 
  • Complex Data Management: Many of these OEMs’ machines use old legacy communications protocols. In addition, the software used in these machines often has slow refresh cycles and uses legacy or proprietary firmware. To collect and use data from these machines, OEMs need to find a way to securely connect to these machines’ firmware using these legacy protocols, select and filter data from these machines, and then transform their data into a format that can be used by modern software. 
  • High Data Volumes: On any given day, thousands of commercial washing machines can generate and deliver a flood of data – only some of which is relevant. OEMs need a way to prioritize, channel, and make sense of all this data. 
  • Complicated IT System Integration: Commercial washing machine IoT data is particularly valuable when it can be integrated into an OEM’s laundry management systems, enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems, advanced analytics toolkits, accounting systems, customer relationship management (CRM) systems, and other cloud and on-premises IT systems. Yet, building custom Application Programing Interfaces (APIs) for each of these IT systems can be difficult, time-consuming, and subject to error.
  • Unreliable, Vulnerable and Costly Network Connectivity: Without wireless connectivity, there is no way to transmit data from edge devices integrated into commercial washing machines to the cloud. However, most OEMs are not telecommunications experts, and struggle to source and manage network connectivity that delivers them secure, reliable, and cost-effective end-to-end transmission of their IoT laundry system data. Also, the pricing for connectivity is often unclear and unpredictable, making it more difficult to build business cases for these IoT applications.

Octave Enables OEMs to Focus on their IoT Laundry System Data

Octave™, Sierra Wireless’ all-in-one industrial IoT platform, addresses these and other challenges that have slowed or prevented commercial washing machine OEMs from using the IoT to drive their digital transformation. Octave empowers these OEMs to quickly and easily develop, deploy, and scale IoT laundry systems that allow them to securely extract, orchestrate and act on data from their commercial washing machines. Octave builds a simple and secure bridge between OEMs’ commercial washing machines and their enterprise software and other IT systems, delivering them a complete solution for extracting, processing, communicating, and consuming the IoT data generated by the machines. 

With Octave, OEMs can focus on developing and deploying IoT applications that deliver them data they can use to create business value, rather than building and maintaining the infrastructure needed to support these applications. Octave addresses the IoT application challenges that commercial washing machine OEMs face by: 
  • Simplifying Data Management: Octave can interface with a wide variety of washing machines’ firmware using both modern and legacy communication protocols, making it easy for OEMs to connect these machines to the cloud.
  • Processing Data at the Edge: Octave’s JavaScript-based engine enables OEMs to deploy IoT applications that process, filter, and prioritize data at the edge device before transmitting it to the cloud. With Octave, OEMs can filter, buffer, store, and forward data based on their unique business needs, ensuring that the right data is sent to the right systems of record, while also lowering their network transmission costs. 
  • Streamlining IT System Data Integration: Octave’s built-in cloud APIs allow OEMs to quickly integrate their machines’ IoT data into their laundry management, ERP, accounting systems, CRM, and other IT systems. 
  • Seamless and Secure Connectivity with Predictable Pricing: Sierra Wireless has relationships with most global cellular carriers, allowing it to provide Octave customers with pre-negotiated wireless connectivity arrangements in whichever countries they operate. In addition, Octave transmits all machine data through a resilient and secure private network. Octave also provides transparent and controllable connectivity pricing, taking the guess work out of determining exactly how much connectivity will cost for an Industrial IoT application. Together, this allows OEMs to reduce the overhead involving in managing their network connectivity, lower their overall connectivity costs, and better predict their connectivity costs, all while ensuring their connectivity is reliable and secure. 

By solving these and other common Industrial IoT application challenges, Octave enables OEMs to more easily develop, deploy, and maintain their IoT applications. 

Commercial Laundry Innovation Opportunities Await

Once they’re able to easily deploy IoT applications, OEMs can explore new business models and services, such as equipment-as-a-service. For example, Octave allows OEMs to mirror device properties and behavior across their entire equipment fleet. As a result, they can develop an initial proof of concept that monitors equipment at one location, and quickly turn it into an application that connects to hundreds of thousands of machines. As they scale their application globally, they can also keep their connectivity costs predicable, using Sierra Wireless’ extensive collection of carrier partners and Octave’s transparent connectivity pricing model. 

The bottom line? With Octave, OEMs can launch innovative Industrial IoT applications for new business offerings – all without having to build up deep levels of expertise in embedded devices, edge communications, cellular connectivity, or IoT data security, since it’s all built into the Octave platform. By enabling these OEMs to securely extract, orchestrate, and act on data from their commercial washing machines, the Octave makes IoT laundry system development and deployment simple, allows OEMs to efficiently manage all their connected machines, and de-risks IoT laundry system deployment.

Read our white paper, The Power of Data Orchestration for Commercial Washing Machines, and Start with Sierra to learn more about how to transform your commercial washing machine OEM business so that it can thrive in today’s connected economy. You can also read our eBook, Industrial IoT: Generating Smart and Actionable Data From Commercial Washing Machines, to learn more about what commercial washing machine manufacturers can do to remove some of the most common blockers impeding their IIoT transformation.