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How the Internet of Things (IoT) is Changing EHS Management

Not long ago, robot maids and videophones were the stuff of science fiction.

Now that it's 2018, many of the futuristic gadgets that only existed in books or movies have become reality. From smartphones to robotic vacuum cleaners, we're surrounded by connected devices. In fact, there are over 20 billion devices connected to the Internet today -- that's 3 devices for every single person on the planet! 

This web of connected devices is called the Internet of Things, and it's changing life as we know it.  

Thanks to the Internet of Things, now you can lock your doors, turn on your lights, and adjust the temperature in your living room from anywhere using your phone or tablet. 

But the Internet of Things can do much more than let you control your home like George Jetson. It's also transforming the way companies collect, monitor, and make sense of their EHS data. 

Internet of Things applications in EHS

Let's look at some of the ways companies are using the Internet of Things in their facilities:

Data collection and reporting

Think back to the last time you needed to perform an inspection at one of your facilities. You had to pack your bags, hop on an airplane, take a cab to the location, perform the inspection, record your findings on paper-and-pencil forms, and return to your desk to compile all the information. 

With the Internet of Things, it's now possible to perform inspections without buying a single plane ticket. Anyone at a facility with smartphone or tablet can simply log in to a mobile app, capture data or even images and video at the source, and sync it to your central database for instant visibility in dashboards or reports.

Worker safety

Smart PPE and other wearables are also changing the way companies keep workers safe. Imagine if your machinery could sense when someone is in harm's way and stop the equipment. Or if sensors on your workers' clothing could detect extreme heat or toxic gas levels and alert you if workers are in trouble. Today, you don't have to imagine it -- these technologies already exist, and they're being used by companies around the world. 

Environmental management

Another way companies are using connected devices is for environmental management. One IoT device you might already be familiar with is a continuous emission monitoring system. These systems monitor emissions such as carbon dioxide, volatile organic compounds, and airborne particulate matter, making it easier for companies to comply with emissions regulations.  

New devices are popping up every day that can track water consumption, energy usage, and production throughput. This information can be transmitted into an EHS management software system to aggregate and make sense of the data you've collected. 

Equipment monitoring and maintenance

The Internet of Things can also make your machinery smarter. IoT-enabled machinery can anticipate maintenance needs, detect potential problems, and keep track of its own maintenance schedule. Sensors can monitor the power consumed by every device, making it easy to manage usage at the equipment level. Connected containers can measure fill levels and detect even the smallest leak. The possibilities are truly endless.

EHS spending on IoT technology

The Internet of Things has already caught on in industries like oil and gas, mining, manufacturing, and transportation. Fortunately, you don't have to be a Fortune 500 company to start using IoT to improve your environmental, health, and safety performance.  

As IoT devices become more common, they're also becoming more affordable. And companies are priortizing connected devices in their budgets: According to Verdantix's global EHS spending survey, 42% of EHS directors will increase spend on technology this year. Smart PPE and mobile apps for audit and incident management top the list of tech that companies are interested in. 

The bottom line

The Internet of Things is a powerful and effective tool for companies to collect, monitor, and make sense of their EHS data. No matter what challenge you're facing, there's likely an IoT device to solve it. 

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