Machine-to-machine communication (M2M) is machines connecting with other machines to exchange information in real-time without human interface or interaction.
For example, my PC is connected wirelessly to a printer with a Bluetooth device. Bluetooth is a wireless standard used for exchanging data between fixed and mobile devices over short distances by using ultra-high frequency radio waves (2.400 to 2.485 GHz).
With a physical range of typically less than 100’, Bluetooth is compatible with personal computers, smartphones, gaming consoles, and audio devices (e.g., speakers, ear buds). Moreover, not only is my printer wireless, through the Internet of Things (IoT) it can automatically re-order more toner before I run out.
The key components of an M2M system are field-deployed wireless devices with embedded sensors or RFID-wireless communication networks with complementary wire line access including but not limited to cellular, WiFi, ZigBee, Wi-MAX, wireless LAN (WLAN), generic DSL, and fiber.
What is the value proposition of M2M for car wash operators?
In production, the machines’ ability to interact with each other may result in better interoperability. Machines can decide what action is best to take based on information collected from other devices in the process and specific patterns programmed into the operating system by engineers.
For example, machines can decide to pause when certain conditions occur to prevent the collision of vehicles on the conveyor.
Application of M2M and IoT allows for better POS data as well as a better shopping experience for customers through personalized digital signage.
Digital signs can be updated in real-time with M2M technology and can be used to promote products in a more interactive way.
In the mechanical room and vending machines, M2M technology can be used to monitor operations and manage inventory to reduce the number of visits and downtime.
One of the best examples of how M2M technology has changed car wash retailing is point-of-sale (POS). M2M POS allows car wash operators to provide a better customer service with a more flexible payment method which overcomes physical restrictions and boundaries.
Cashless payment by means of credit/debit cards or the NFC functionality featured in today’s smartphones is quickly gaining acceptance. Researchers find the installed base of smart POS terminals is growing at a compound annual growth rate of more than 20 percent.
With M2M mobile payments, consumers get enhanced flexibility to purchase using their preferred method with their associated frequent purchase discounts or perks.
On the other hand, operators receive immediate payment with little potential for fraud, employees are more secure by not carrying cash, and operating expenses from cash handling and distribution are also diminished.
M2M technology can bring about new revenue opportunities for car wash operators and help build customer relationships by tracking and compiling consumer data. If car wash operators are aware of their customers’ buying trends, they are more able to adapt their products and services to meet those needs. Doing so can increase the probability of customers returning and becoming loyal customers.
The demand for greater connectivity and M2M communication keeps growing because the cost of sensors keeps dropping, and low-cost wireless networks are making M2M more affordable. Businesses that catch up and make efficient use of M2M communication will be the first to see the benefits from it.