AT&T provides the critical link to the future of connected things

Wireless communication doesn’t only occur between people; sometimes it’s a machine on the other end of a call, text or other transmission. And, increasingly, there’s a machine on both ends. Machine-to-machine communication is an important driver for business applications in this next explosive wave of growth led by AT&T: The Internet of Things (IoT).

AT&T kicked off 2015 with a bang, announcing M2X Data Service, a platform that makes it easier for companies to create and manage new IoT solutions. Already, global leaders are bringing their customers entirely new capabilities based on M2X.

Machines that monitor themselves

One of those industry leaders is Rockwell Automation. AT&T works with the company to deliver customized data from a Rockwell Automation device known as a variable speed drive, which controls the speed of a motor. It’s an important component in manufacturing plants and remote sites, such as oil pumping facilities.

AT&T’s secure global network lets Rockwell Automation and its customers transmit data from this device. And, it doesn’t matter where the device sits — it can be miles from civilization. As long as it has cellular reception, it can transmit information including such crucial data as maintenance or malfunction alerts. Think of it as a virtual, 24-hour-a-day equipment analyst.

Rockwell Automation already had a smart machine. But it’s not feasible for their customers to have personnel watching over a piece of equipment that runs by itself in remote locations. The company needed a way to let its customers know when the device needs maintenance. AT&T provides that link.

Recipe for success

In the foodservice category, Emerson – in collaboration with a leading equipment manufacturer – is working with AT&T on a commercial kitchen “proof of concept” based on M2X. Imagine owning a fast food restaurant chain, with hundreds of locations, each with a preprogrammed oven. Whenever you want to launch a new menu item, each piece of equipment has to be reprogrammed manually. This means having people drive from location to location in order to upload software updates from a thumb drive. This is slow and expensive. With M2X, software updates are pushed remotely to the accelerated cooking ovens in near real time – saving time, money and energy.

The key to these and other IoT applications is the AT&T Global SIM, a tiny card inserted in the device. Using the Global SIM, a manufacturer like Emerson or Rockwell Automation can reach multiple countries using a single wireless network operator. AT&T Control Center enables ordering and provisioning on a single platform so that using the network data is transmitted wirelessly from a machine (like the Rockwell Automation drive) across thousands of miles, in the blink of an eye. And AT&T isn’t just pushing the data through a data “pipe.” Based on predetermined rules, the AT&T M2X solution allows companies like Emerson and Rockwell Automation to parse the data that has been collected and expose it to other entities so further action can be taken.

“We’re excited about the potential of M2X Data Service and how it will help transform businesses. The work we’re doing with Rockwell Automation and Emerson is just the beginning of where we can go, as we give enterprises the power to communicate with remote machines and collect valuable data that transforms people, process and assets.” – Mike Troiano, Vice President, AT&T IoT Solutions

Customers such as Rockwell Automation can manage connected devices around the world with ease. The key is the AT&T Global SIM used in concert with the AT&T Control Center. The data travels over AT&T’s reliable and far-reaching wireless network. The Global SIM lets customers order and provision in multiple countries through a single flexible platform that can dynamically adapt to a changing business environment.

Capabilities of the AT&T solution include:

  • Pre-certification for activation across more than 600 operators in 200+ countries
  • Tough, durable design for long service life in the field
  • A 24-hour single point of contact for billing, provisioning and service
  • An intuitive, web based graphical user interface for instant self-service capabilities
  • Real-time diagnostics and reporting