What does the ‘Internet of Things’ mean for hardware?

At Varlink we have seen the shift from the marketing buzz, ‘Internet of Things’, move from software to hardware.

In a seminal 2009 article for the RFID Journal, “That ‘Internet of Things’ Thing”, Kevin Ashton made the following assessment:

‘Today computers—and, therefore, the Internet—are almost wholly dependent on human beings for information. Nearly all data available on the Internet were first captured and created by human beings—by typing, pressing a record button, taking a digital picture, or scanning a barcode. Today’s information technology is so dependent on data originated by people that our computers know more about ideas than things. If we had computers that knew everything there was to know about things—using data they gathered without any help from us—we would be able to track and count everything, and greatly reduce waste, loss and cost. We would know when things needed replacing, repairing or recalling, and whether they were fresh or past their best. The Internet of Things has the potential to change the world, just as the Internet did. Maybe even more so.’

—Kevin Ashton, “That ‘Internet of Things’ Thing”, RFID Journal, July 22, 2009

As of 2014 the vision of the Internet of Things (IoT) has evolved due to a convergence of multiple technologies, ranging from wireless communication to the Internet and from embedded systems to micro-electromechanical systems (MEMS). According to Gartner, there will be nearly 26 billion devices on the Internet of Things by 2020. So how can the IoT transform day – to- day business processes?

In the business-to-business market place products embedded with sensors (RFID – Radio-frequency identification) enable companies to track the movements of products and even monitor interactions with them. Zebra RFID printers, for example, offer companies total visibility, identification, tracking, management and optimisation of assets. By monitoring products and assets through supply chains companies can improve inventory management, while reducing working capital and logistics costs. The range of possible uses for tracking is expanding.

RFID in aviation allows Airplane manufacturers, building airframes, to send continuous data on product wear and tear to their computers, allowing for proactive maintenance and reducing unplanned downtime.

In the oil and gas industry, RFID solutions such as Trimbles T41R with enhanced GPS and/or smartphone connectivity can recognise the unique identification of any asset anywhere in the world. The automated bulk data capture solution enhanced by the IoT makes cost-effective, real-time visibility of oil and gas industry assets, asset location and employees.

The significance of real-time data and constant machine-to-machine communication not only offers increased productivity as employees spend less time tracking down missing equipment, improved production uptime due to faster response times, failures and outages it also allows increased asset utilisation through visibility and thus reduce stocking inventory levels.

For more information about RFID devices and hardware solutions suitable for your customers and solutions please contact one of Varlink’s account managers on 01904 717180.


We are a specialist, value added distributor of mobile computing and data capture products. Underpinning all that we do is an understanding that our customers deserve outstandingly executed basic distribution services.

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