Technical Article

Applications and Examples of M2M Communication

May 05, 2021 by Anish Devasia

Learn about specific applications of machine-to-machine communication and how engineers can utilize these techniques in various industrial sectors.

M2M communication happens when machines communicate with each other without human intervention. A previous article mentioned the definition and types of M2M communication.

M2M communication carried out over wireless networks is part of specific IIoT applications. It enables the use, transfer, and computation of data to improve the efficiency and capabilities of modern-day machines.

 

TE connectivity robots working on a factory floor

M2M communication can happen in a variety of ways including through robots and other mechanical components. Image used courtesy of TE Connectivity

 

Modern wireless communication technologies like 5G and WiFi 6e increase the bandwidth of data that can be transferred with minimal lag. 

With these transformational changes, M2M communication capabilities may be embedded in trillions of devices in the future, which may change the technology landscape in many industries. M2M communication can be used in various industries, including industrial manufacturing, logistics, and more. 

 

M2M Applications in Industrial Manufacturing

M2M has helped manufacture a standardized product with minimal defects. 

SCADA systems have been used in manufacturing settings for quite a while. In these systems, the devices communicate with the central server and compute what needs to be done with all the available data. 

Then the instructions are passed onto the respective devices. Each of the devices did not have any computing power to make decisions. So all the decisions are made at the central server. 

With the advent of modern microprocessors, every device can have computing power at a low cost. Exchanging data between the devices may eliminate the need for the central processing server for computing power. 

 

machine to machine communication

Machines communicating with each other on the facility floor of an industrial facility. Image used courtesy of ABB

 

Every device in the factory can be a smart device as part of IoT infrastructure. Information can be passed between devices without a central server. Machines can keep track of their maintenance schedule by themselves or with a CMMS (Computerized Maintenance Management System). It can alert the plant managers on the upcoming service schedule. More modern devices can self-diagnose their problems and even order parts directly without any human involvement. 

With the advent of IoT, SCADA-based systems can become more intelligent and may improve the efficiency of manufacturing processes.

 

M2M Applications in Utility Management

M2M communication was first used to send the meter readings of utilities to utility companies for billing. In that way, there was no need for an employee to walk to every house to read the meter readings. M2M communication could collect the data and bill the consumers automatically every month without any physical effort. 

Today smart meters can read the energy usage in a building on a real-time basis through the cloud

This can be used with historical data to get an estimate for future energy demand. 

Machine learning techniques can help predict future data with available information. The estimated energy demand can benchmark production. The same demands can increase or decrease production. This can also decrease the wastage of energy generated, so only the required energy will be generated. 

 

GE communication module

GE Digital’s Gridcom DXC allows utility companies to send meter readings and helps these machines communicate together. Image used courtesy of GE Digital


 

This process may benefit both utility companies and consumers. Utility companies can then implement dynamic pricing according to the energy demand. Consumers can also automatically adjust their consumption with more available data. 

 

M2M Applications in Logistics

The logistics industry uses M2M communication in many different aspects of the supply chain. Engineers often use RFID tags to track any product anywhere in the supply chain. This may mean that no package is lost while shipping. It will also help to maintain the provenance record for each of the products shipped. The information regarding the RFID tags can be used to keep consumers updated on the status of their courier. 

Apart from using RFID tags, engineers or plant managers in logistics warehouses also use technology extensively. Warehouses have automated picking carts that can navigate through the large warehouse facility without any human help.  

Information about the products is picked from the shelves, directly transmitted to the carts, and displayed on the screen attached to the cart. The automated cart will move to the location of the product. The item will be picked by a human picker or a picking robot. 

 

fetch robotics

A variety of logistic and robot components that can communicate with each other in a warehouse or logistics facility. Image used courtesy of Fetch Robotics

 

If a picking robot is used, there is no need for human involvement. The information on the product to be picked is sent to both the automated cart and the picking robot. The right product is picked up and placed on the cart. 

The use of M2M communication in warehouses and other logistics components is endless. New advances are made every day to improve the supply chain processes.

M2M communication finds its way in many industries. Today, wireless communication is used for most industries. 

Many industries are adopting M2M communication techniques, and it doesn’t appear to be slowing any time soon.