Everyone is talking about – or trying to sell – something that has to do with the internet of Things (IoT). From toothbrushes to turbines, the list of items connecting to the IoT is remarkable. In some devices IoT connectivity is as easy as plopping in a Raspberry Pi (if you don’t know, it’s ok) and writing a few lines of code to communicate with it. In other areas, industrial machines for instance, the task of accessing the equipment to gather data for analysis is a multi-dimensional and complex process. It is vital for managers of industrial companies to understand this difference in order to successfully bring products to the Internet of Things world.
In this article, we are going to focus on the industrial domain, which includes industries as diverse as power generation, oil and gas development, aviation, and rail transportation. The industrial Internet of Things, also called the industrial internet in some circles, is being touted as the facilitator of the next industrial revolution.
Why IoT connectivity in the industrial domain is not a trivial task
In the industrial domain there are many devices that have had little or no built-in electronics or connectivity. To build IoT connectivity, your machine has to be able collect data and report out over the network, where it will be analyzed and turned into usable information. Sounds easy, but in reality there are many considerations unique to the industrial domain that complicate the connectivity of a device. For instance:
- Is your device in a harsh environment? (Weather, heat, electromagnetic noise, metal enclosures/framework which blocks signals.)
- Are there power constraints? (Some devices have to last months or years on a battery.)
- Is the connection secure? (Some regulations require protection of data in transit or at rest.)
- Can the device be remotely updated? (This will be a requirement for all US government installations.)
If you have the skill set within your own development group you have a leg up in the industry. Most companies either don’t have that luxury, or those experts are strapped with other projects and have no bandwidth. So you need to go outside to find an expert who can help you make your product IoT accessible. As you’re reading this, you may be thinking that the IoT is so new we’re all learning as we go along, that there are no experts out there. Not so.
The technology has been around for a long time – experts exist
The name “Internet of Things” is new, but the technology that makes it happen is not. When you’re looking for help you can and should find an expert with sufficient experience in your domain. Be wary of website developers who suddenly are writing code for the IoT. Chances are they don’t know the pitfalls described above, or how to address them.
Software Design Solutions has extensive experience in embedded systems and machine-to-machine communication, as well as a solid background in cloud processing and mobile application development. All these things put together define the Internet of Things.
We’ve been doing this for over 15 years, and can provide the necessary expertise – from being another set of eyes for your engineers, to providing complete development and testing.