IBM outlines Sears Home Services, Golden State Foods IoT projects

The two projects highlight how IoT is being used as a bridge for analytics and digital transformation projects.
Written by Larry Dignan, Contributor

Everything you need to know about the Internet of Things

IBM outlined Internet of Things (IoT) projects with Sears Home Services to track appliance repairs and Golden State Foods, which is aiming to improve the reliability and freshness of deliveries.

Big Blue outlined the projects at a customer conference in Boston. Meanwhile, Gartner at its Symposium/ITXpo in Orlando is also outlining the power of IoT in various digital transformation efforts.

Gartner analysts noted in a presentation that by 2022, IoT enabled service models could save trillions of dollars a year in maintenance and service costs.

The challenge for companies is that the IoT vendor landscape is fragmented, standards aren't fully formed, and enterprises need a solid strategy.


For IBM, IoT provides a gateway to its analytics and Watson platforms.

Sears Home Services, the No. 1 appliance repair service in the US, is using IBM's Predictive Maintenance and Quality on Cloud service to manage more than seven million repairs a year and various requests.

What Sears Home Services is trying to prevent is sending a repair person when the problem can be fixed via phone. Using IoT, IBM can help Sears Home Services do a root cause analysis over phone. The repair service company can also manage its parts and inventory levels.

Mohammed Dastagir, CTO of Sears Home Services, said the company has a multi-pronged approach to IoT as well as the data.

Among the key points:

  • Sears Home Services is adding sensors with consent to third party appliances it repairs. That ongoing effort will give it more predictive capabilities for repairs already made and future issues.
  • Kenmore devices in the future will have IoT sensors and capabilities built in at some point in the future.
  • Sears Home Services has 100 years of data for appliance repairs and it will have to most likely use Watson to ingest it and provide analytics.

Dastagir described the effort as a "long arduous journey" that may take a couple years just to determine what historical data makes the most sense to keep and mine. The returns will be transforming Sears Home Services into a company that can capitalize on more asset management of appliances in the field and making good decisions on training, markets and operations.

"What we want to do is harness platforms that are helping us to make intelligent decisions," he said.

For Golden State Foods, a food processor and distributor, IBM's IoT for Automotive is used to improve fleet management for about 1,000 trucks making more than 25,000 deliveries a week. IBM's tools are used to aggregate weather, traffic and telematics data to optimize distribution.

Fleet optimization in transportation is one of the more obvious use cases for IoT. BlackBerry also recently announced a trucking company win for its Radar IoT platform.

Golden State will also extend IoT to restaurant owners by providing a service that collects data from sensors to provide decision support on energy use, equipment and restaurant maintenance.

The IoT plan from Golden State Foods follows a blockchain partner with IBM announced in August.

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