Industrial IoT: 8 Things to Know

Learn about key characteristics of Internet of Things deployments in industrial environments.

The Internet of Things (IoT) is a term used to describe the practice of networking everyday objects to collect and analyze data in order to streamline and automate processes. But once you start designing specific IoT projects, you begin to realize that IoT benefits and challenges vary widely depending on your specific goals. If you're designing an IoT project for an industrial environment, the variations are starker.

Industrial IoT  uses sensors to collect data in the hopes of speeding up processes, gain efficiencies, and ultimately, reduce overall costs for a product or service. In many ways, this is similar to other types of IoT, but there are a couple ways that industrial IoT deployments are distinctly different.

The first is in the fact that the physical environments for industrial-connected devices can vary widely from one implementation to the next. Plants, factories, mines and substations that have been operating for years likely weren't designed to accommodate sensitive pieces of sensor equipment required for IoT. That means installing of sensors in vary harsh conditions with less than ideal, HVAC, ventilation and power capabilities.

Next, while technology is indeed part of most industrial operations today, the hardware, software and protocols used are vastly different compared to what we're accustomed to on an enterprise or consumer-grade level. On the enterprise side, we commonly deal with protocols championed through the likes of the IEEE and ITU. Manufacturing protocols and platforms, however, are promoted by standards organizations such as the Manufacturing Enterprise Solutions Association (MESA) and International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC). As a result, one of the main challenges with industrial IoT has to do with communicating the data extracted from industrial systems that use their own unique application platforms and standards protocols to enterprise systems.

Read on to find out eight key things to consider before you begin an industrial IoT project.

(Image: iStockphoto)

About the Author(s)

Andrew Froehlich, President, West Gate Networks

President, West Gate Networks

As a highly experienced network architect and trusted IT consultant with worldwide contacts, particularly in the United States and Southeast Asia, Andrew Froehlich has nearly two decades of experience and possesses multiple industry certifications in the field of enterprise networking. Froehlich has participated in the design and maintenance of networks for State Farm Insurance, United Airlines, Chicago-area schools and the University of Chicago Medical Center. He is the founder and president of Loveland, Colo.-based West Gate Networks, which specializes in enterprise network architectures and data center build outs. The author of two Cisco certification study guides published by Sybex, he is a regular contributor to multiple enterprise IT related websites and trade journals with insights into rapidly changing developments in the IT industry.

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