1. Place of deployment
Complex IoT projects can be very challenging due to their location “in the middle of nowhere” so to speak.
Desert or South Pole?
They can be offshore, in the middle of the desert, near the South Pole, or even in a war torn area, far away from the regular power network or even human life.
Hence, the place of deployment is one of the key questions to ask your potential client.
Get as much detail as you can about the place or even multiple places of deployment, so you can provide the suitable solution.
2. Environmental conditions
For coastal and off-shore installations, for example, machinery will not only be exposed to extremely strong winds but also to UV-rays from the sun and, of course, (salt) water.
Hence, it is important to know whether the enclosure will need to withstand extreme weather conditions, extremely high or low temperatures, salt water or other challenging environmental conditions.
This means you would need to be looking into enclosures that are waterproof and able to withstand extreme weather conditions, amongst other requirements.
3. Power supply
The power question is key to a successful project, as without power, absolutely nothing works.
Due to the often remote locations, there may or may not be a direct power supply available. So, how are things powered on site?
Is Alternating Current (AC) or Direct Current (DC) existent on site, or none at all?
Try and get as many details as possible about the power situation on site, asking for its reliability in the past and/or possible challenges in the future.
4. Power backup
There is nothing more important than a backup power supply.
A power cut without a backup can have devastating operational and thus financial implications.
Is a power backup required or is one already in place?
If a power backup needs to be provided, for how long does it need to uphold the system and how much power does the backup need to provide?
5. Data usage
The amount of data that needs to be transmitted, as well as the intervals at which this is done, is also an important factor.
By asking about the data volume you can then determine the right application and power backup needed, in order to continue to run operations smoothly, at least for a limited time, in case an external power source is interrupted at the unmanned site.
Any downtime always means loss of revenue and perhaps even greater risks involved.
6. Cellular coverage
Communication is key to any successful IoT project as without a network connection, data cannot be transferred between devices without human intervention.
When meeting with a new or potential client it is therefore paramount to ask about what communication service covers the area; GSM/LTE/SAT?
If they already have used communication services, ask them to rate the quality on a scale of 1-10, with 1 being very poor and 10 being excellent.
If none is available, take note of this also.
Even though communication services may already be available, if the quality is not as good as it is needed, you may be able to offer improvements where necessary.