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Unique IoT Solutions for the APAC Region

APAC offers great potential for IoT applications, but fragmentation presents complex challenges for businesses in the Asia-Pacific Region. The region has been lagging behind the rest of the world, but there’s a silver lining; no other region shows the same capacity for massive growth.

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Seth Ryding, CSO Global
February 20, 2023

Here, we give examples of APAC IoT customer cases from three key verticals: automotive, transportation, and logistics, as well as energy, utilities, and resources. Find out more about the state of IoT and trends in Telenor IoT´s Asian IoT Megatrends report.

Introducing the Vertical View for IoT Solutions

Despite broad similarities in the core needs for any IoT solution, every country has a different approach in their IoT implementation journey.

The individual social, economic and technological drivers in each country can affect the focus and funding for every type of project.  For example, automation is not the immediate first application for IoT in countries with more abundant labour (such as Pakistan, Myanmar, and Bangladesh).  Political instability in many regions can also lead to changes and uncertainty around policies for projects such as smart cities.  However, this doesn’t seem to be significantly slowing growth, as the number of IoT devices in circulation in APAC is forecast to ramp up from 14.5 billion today to 38.9 billion in 2030.

IoT implementations come in different forms, from the simple plug-and-play devices to deployments with higher complexities requiring experts to integrate with legacy systems. There is no single one-size-fits-all solution that can be easily applied and replicated.  IoT applications have revamped traditional practices across the region.  This is illustrated with three verticals: automotive, transportation and logistics; and energy, utilities, and resources.

Automotive: The digital vehicle age

Automotive digitalization and IoT efforts are moving rapidly in Asia-Pacific, from global/regional automotive manufacturers establishing electric and hybrid plants outside of their own countries, to governments investing and launching plans to support automotive technologies. For example:

  • Thailand government incentives for electric vehicles (EVs), with a goal for 50% of its total auto production transformed to EVs by 2030, becoming a production base for cleaner vehicles within the region. These incentives include exemption of import duty as well as excise tax on a wide range of EV models.
  • Mitsubishi Motors intend to invest IDR 10 trillion (approximately USD 653 million) in Indonesia over the next three years to expand manufacturing operations, including building a plant for hybrid and electric vehicle production.
  • In Vietnam, the Danang Smart City app (DanaMap) has launched an ambulance supervision and management utility to allow the Health Department, municipal Emergency Centre, as well as residents to monitor ambulance operations within the city. This is part of a series of projects to digitalize operations in the city and will soon extend to the monitoring of garbage trucks and fire engines.

The IoT ecosystem has digitally reshaped the automotive sector, revamping the traditional way of interacting with automotive vehicles with IoT applications that are linked to various devices (ranging from sensors to GPS trackers), infusing the capability of collecting real-time data to create actionable insights for vehicle users, technology providers, and automotive manufacturers.

One prominent use case is fleet management and telematics, with implementations already underway according to 64% of fleet/transport respondents in APAC according to Omdia survey data.  Vehicle-integrated sensors collect data including real-time location, fuel consumption, movements, and vehicle, which is then then stored, processed, and analysed to identify possible trends/patterns.  Fleet management operators access this through a centralized platform to create actionable insights, such as performing predictive maintenance to ensure continuous uptime of vehicles and detect potential failures in advance.

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Transportation and logistics: Digitalizing the supply chain

Two key shifts are revolutionizing the landscape: the increasing growth of e-commerce, and the COVID-19 pandemic that limited physical contact – both shifting consumer preferences towards online shopping and a corresponding volume spike in transportations. Amid this disruption, logistics service providers must streamline their processes to manage operations, including warehousing, supply chain, and transportation of goods.

IoT brings capabilities such as end-to-end tracking of transported goods, providing increased transparency on the progress, helping both management processes and improving customers’ confidence levels as they track delivery status. Real-time condition monitoring of the goods also allows suppliers to perform preventive measures and immediate support should there be any risks – critical in methods such as cold chain logistics, where low temperature should be maintained, and any temperature or humidity fluctuations should immediately be flagged. Collected data can also be used to optimize future performance, such as identifying quicker and more efficient routes, allowing better supply chain planning and identification of pain points to address.

No wonder that 67% of logistics/supply chain enterprises in APAC say they are likely to implement a predictive maintenance IoT solution in the next 24 months.  Omdia believes transportation and logistics providers should reach out to IoT service providers to implement effective solutions such as telematics and asset tracking. Service providers can offer end-to-end services, from building roadmaps to offering direct implementation support.

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Energy, utilities, and resources: The future of energy is technology-dependent

IoT technologies are also redefining the traditional ways of operations in the energy, utilities, and resources sector. The emergence of electric vehicles, smart cities, and a sustainability focus, IoT has become a fundamental part of the solution – particularly in APAC where 8 out of the top 10 most populous cities in the world are located.  Cities in the Asia-Pacific region have often served as innovators for pilots and smart city projects, but now is the time for this to scale more quickly.

In the case of energy management, the link to the sustainability agenda is clear, where collected and analysed data allows the grid to better balance and ultimately reduce the amount of electricity being generated.  Grid operators are increasingly under pressure to manage a future network that includes solar, energy storage and electric vehicle charging, all whilst maintaining traditional services amidst increased financial pressure.  For example, Electric Vehicle sales are expected to rise 51% across 2022 from 2021 to 7.2 million units, equal to roughly 9% of total light-vehicle volume, according to Wards Automotive.  This trend is particularly strong in APAC, driven by huge volumes and investment in China.  This is why “Asset and/or infrastructure monitoring (static/stationary)” and “Remote control and management of equipment” (i.e. distribution/transmission)” are the top two deployed IoT projects in APAC to date, according to Omdia survey data.

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Large-scale IoT deployments such as smart metering are therefore becoming critical next-step investments for APAC governments – but need to look to the best practice and learnings from similar projects elsewhere in the world, to be able to implement successfully.

Many countries in the Asian-Pacific region are now catching up with the global smart metering trend, in particular for the connectivity, software, management, and analytics beyond the hardware itself (one of the cited reasons for regional government delays in implementing the Indian smart meter rollout was a lack of focus beyond hardware).

IoT and digitalisation are therefore fundamental to the future utility – with IoT investment a critical priority rather than a choice for many utilities and operators.

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