While home automation first put the Internet of Things concept into the technology mainstream, industrial IoT is where this nascent high-tech sector’s growth truly lies. Companies of all sizes, spanning many different industries, hope to gain a competitive advantage using a variety of IoT applications.
A typical industrial IoT scenario involves data from sensors embedded inside equipment that communicates with a small gateway computer connected to the Internet. A remote data analyst or engineer uses this information in a myriad of ways. The ultimate goal of the application could be optimizing performance by detecting either hardware breakdowns or simply inefficient operation.
Frankly, this is only one of many different possibilities. Let’s dive into some reasons why the time for industrial IoT is today.
The Growing Industrial IoT Market
The Cisco Global Cloud Index estimates 15 billion devices were connected to the Internet as of last year. That number is expected to grow to 50 billion by the end of this decade. It is reasonable to assume many of these devices will be utilized in some form of industrial IoT application.
A look at the IoT sensors market bears out this assumption. A study by Transparency Market Research reveals a market valuation of $4.9 billion in 2014 that’s projected to become a massive $34.75 billion by 2023 — a Compound Annual Growth Rate of 24.5 percent. Both the automotive market and general industry are driving this growth in sensors. Expect a similar rise in the IoT gateway sector over the next decade.
Some Examples of Industrial IoT Applications
While a wide range of business sectors are leveraging the IoT, including transportation, automotive, and retail, let’s take a quick look at some industrial IoT applications. Since the business world requires factories to operate at their utmost efficiency, companies are increasingly using IoT applications for industrial automation among other use-cases.
Factory Safety: Imagine a moisture sensor able to detect leaks and sound an alarm which lets factory personnel handle the problem before a safety issue arises. If the leaking material was hazardous, this alarm can also trigger the closing of IoT-enabled doors and windows to ensure worker safety. Leveraging an IoT solution for predictive maintenance helps prevent leaks in the first place.
Chemical Tank Management: A chemical company builds a solution with Internet-enabled sensors embedded in tanks, communicating with an onsite computer gateway. A remote analyst uses a web application connected to that gateway to monitor tank levels in real time, allowing him to react whenever the situation warrants it. A Cloud-based data storage option allows analytics to be used to wean valuable business information out of that data to help improve overall tank operations.
These two scenarios, while illustrating the various benefits of the technology, merely scratch the surface of what’s possible with Industrial IoT.
Desirable Features in an Industrial IoT Gateway
Since an IoT gateway suitable for industrial applications is essentially a computer, some of the same basic criteria apply as when shopping for desktop computers or servers. RAM as well as processor manufacturer, type, and clock speed are all options you’ll need to consider.
Support for popular operating systems is another must, most notably Linux, Android, or even the embedded version of Windows. Having these OS options lets you tailor a solution based on the skills of your development staff. Everything from C to interpreted languages like C#, Java, or Python is possible.
Factories, with their sometimes volatile environments, require more out of an IoT gateway. They need to be able to work seamlessly in temperatures ranging from -40°C to 80°C. Low power operation is another feature worth considering. A choice between the higher reliability of SLC Flash storage and higher capacity MLC gives you flexibility, depending on your specific scenario.
The best IoT gateways support a variety of ways to integrate with its surroundings. WiFi facilitates wireless connectivity between sensors and the Internet. A GPS radio is a must when contemplating equipment-tracking applications. Of course, you’ll need to consider ports — RS-232, RS-485, USB, SATA, Ethernet, Bluetooth, and more.
Needless to say, there are a lot of options when it comes to choosing an IoT gateway for your industrial application. Try to pick something giving you a lot of flexibility when it comes to both hardware design and software development.
Technologic Systems Offers the IoT Gateway for Your Needs
At Technologic Systems, we offer a wide range of products suitable for your industrial IoT application — including SBCs and computer-on-modules that serve nicely as gateways with the desirable features as mentioned above. We also offer flexible custom design solutions perfect for your specific scenario. Our products are backed by engineer-provided tech support.
Our TS-7670 SBC features a GPS radio and cell modem making it suitable for asset tracking applications. Check out the TS-7680 and its AC power and relays perfect for HVAC and industrial automation. The TS-4900 module and its big brother SBC, the TS-7970, sport many features giving you the flexibility for most industrial IoT solutions.
These are only a few examples of our robust product line. Take some time to explore it all!
Hopefully, this look at the emerging world of industrial IoT offered some insight into the wide range of possibilities from this relatively new technology sector. Get inspired and give us a call. We’ll help make your innovative ideas a reality.