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By the end of 2020, there will be 30 billion connected devices – roughly four for every person alive. That number will only grow. We strongly believe in the potential of the Internet of Things (IoT) to reshape the way we do business. So, in May 2019, we launched a new IoT Competence Center in Madrid. The center will allow us to develop next-generation inspection technology.

The IoT-based inspection market is growing at 7% a year. To ensure that we remain the point of reference for these developments we have partnered with Swisscom and Microsoft. Swisscom is providing a dedicated and secured IoT communications network for our data to be transmitted, which will then be managed and stored by Microsoft. SGS can then leverage its experience to develop game-changing IoT inspection devices that will be configurable, scalable and extremely easy to operate. These devices won’t just allow us to provide a better service to individual customers, they will enable us to offer predictive services, through our development of advanced analytics and then machine learning and artificial intelligence.

This will put us at the forefront of developing smart cities, smart agriculture and smart industries. We are moving quickly. Even though we only started in May we have already developed our first product, Smart Warehouse. Built for the agricultural industry, Smart Warehouse delivers timely and accurate information to protect stored commodities (e.g. grain).

While traditional inspection methods offered a useful snapshot of the status of the commodity, with 24/7 monitoring, Smart Warehouse offers continuous support. It can monitor elements such as moisture, temperature and CO2 levels, and therefore prevent contamination with molds, mites, insects and microbes, and premature germination.

Our IoT Smart Warehouse solution is currently being implemented in Egypt, Hungary, Spain, Kazakhstan, Ukraine, the Netherlands and the Baltic region. We anticipate that the service will also be sought after for monitoring commodities on cargo vessels.

As big data develops across devices, we will be able to offer even better predictive services. For example, we will be able to alert a customer if humidity and temperature present a risk of fermentation in the following 48 hours. This is of course great news for our customers, but it is also good for society because it has the potential to massively reduce food waste. In addition, the carbon footprint from regular site visits for inspections will be significantly reduced and insecticide usage will be minimized as our devices also monitor phosphine levels. All of this helps us add value to society.