Is the IoT Gateways the key to overcome the challenges facing the IIOT, especially on SMEs with low connectivity machineries and non-standard proprietary protocols?

Industry 4.0
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Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) tends to be much more mission-critical, with machine-centric data as opposed to the non-time sensitive, human-centric information in commercial IoT applications[1]. The eventual goal is to feed this data into predictive analytics systems to provide insight into an industrial process with the aim of making the necessary changes at precise times. Industry 4.0 is the term used to describe this process of industrial systems incorporating Cyber-Physical Systems (CPS) for a “smarter” factory.

Industrial IoT has enormous potential. However, not all are benefits. This technology also faces several challenges:

  • It requires a high investment. It has been proven that it is a profitable technology in the medium term, but there are companies that are not willing to make the outlay required to adapt all their operations. Although, sooner or later, they will have to.
  • It is necessary to adapt to the changes brought about by this technology. Industrial IoT represents an evolution in the way of working and the way processes are carried out, so it is necessary to renew itself to adapt to this new labor paradigm.
  • Finally, there are no common technological standards or clear regulations regarding the use of the Internet of Things. Sometimes these are closed systems whose connectivity options are limited to the company’s own devices.

But, what if there was a standard that allowed connecting systems or devices of any scope?

One possibility is a full industrial IoT Gateway that collects from any industrial device and send it to any cloud system. An IoT Gateway can collect data from several data sources, such as Modbus Protocol, Siemens S7 PLCs, RESTful Servers (REST), OPC DA and UA Servers, Databases, TXT, CSV and XML Files, DNP3, Marchesini, Xantrex, Mettler Toledo, MQTT, among others. In addition, an IoT Gateway can deliver data to several destinations, such as Amazon Web Services (AWS IoT), Google Cloud, Azure IoT, Mongo DataBase, SQL DataBase, CSV, XML, TXT Files, OSISoft PI Historian, RESTful Clients (REST), OPC UA, Mosquitto MQTT Broker, Generic MQTT Brokers, SCADA Systems, Historians, among others[2].

This solution allows the integration of different elements of control, supervision and planning of the factory in an easy way since:

  • Avoid making custom developments to solve this need not covered so far
  • Reduces the complexity of the project
  • You learn very quickly to use it
  • You do not need to be a great expert to expand or modify the project
  • Its graphical interface allows you to visually understand the flow of data
  • Configurations can be reused from one project to another

Many industries have gradually been incorporated into the digitization process, creating infrastructures that favour or help in the integration of the IIoT. For example, the rise of Industrial Ethernet (IE) feeds into a more seamless implementation of IIoT where central gateways are often directly connected to the cloud with a hardwired Ethernet link, ultimately allowing for a consistent wired backbone across an industrial infrastructure. Back in 2018, IE overtook traditional fieldbus technologies in terms of newly installed nodes for factory automation—an industrial subcategory that requires some of the most demanding latencies and the need for zero downtime on critical equipment.

But, what happens in small companies that want to start their digital transformation process from scratch? What should your investment be?

iiot_market
Market growth expected by 2023 (source: The Industrial Communication Report)

Before answering these questions, we would like to explain the state of the future of the internet of things in industry. According to a study by the Industrial Communication Report[3], in 2017 there were 83.2 million IOT devices in industries around the world. This number is expected to rise to 141 million in 2023, growing at a CAGR of 11.1% during 2018–2023. The reality is that there are already billions of connected devices in our daily lives, and that their use has also spread to the industrial sector. The future poses a scenario in which this technology will be further developed and further complemented by advances in other fields, such as augmented reality, artificial intelligence or robotics.

According to ResearchAndMarkets.com, by 2025 the global IIoT market is expected to reach an astounding value of $922.62 billion[4]. In addition, according to other sources the expectations are even better since according to them: “the global market for Internet of things (IoT) end-user solutions is expected to grow to 212 billion U.S. dollars in size by the end of 2019. The technology reached 100 billion dollars in market revenue for the first time in 2017, and forecasts suggest that this figure will grow to around 1.6 trillion by 2025”[5]. Likewise, other studies, such as the one carried out by Bain & Company[6], indicate that the industrial IoT will generate more than 250,000 million euros in the year 2021, approximately double that of the internet of things applied to the consumer sector.

iiot_solutions
Forecast end-user spending on IoT solutions worldwide from 2017 to 2025 (source: Statista)

These IoT market growth figures seem to make sense when compared with the general rise of IoT that forecast about 73 billion IoT connected devices by 2025… without a doubt, the number seems fairly reasonable!

Therefore, it is important to note that increasing the competitiveness of any company, including SMEs, involves getting on the train of digital transformation. But an important reflection is, should they do it at any cost? Indeed, the investment must be constant but without losing sight of the market supply. These companies must check for customizable solutions with adaptability and configurability that are capable of adding IoT capabilities to shop floor elements that were not previously available. Nevertheless, there are still to many questions to answer in the roadmap of the digital transformation, What place will the human being occupy among all these advances? How will the way we work change?

In future posts, we will be continue writing about technology and business trends for enterprises. Furthermore, we recommend consulting the following literature to continue your digital transformation journey:

The objective of this blog is to provide a personal vision of how digital transformation trends will be impacting in our daily activities, businesses and lifestyle.

[1] https://www.mpdigest.com/2019/11/22/a-comparison-of-common-industrial-iot-protocols/

[2] https://www.i-scoop.eu/internet-of-things-guide/iot-gateways/

[3] https://www.marketsandmarkets.com/Market-Reports/industrial-communication-market-146536397.html

[4] https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20200729005330/en/Global-Internet-of-Things-IoT-Security-Market-Forecast-to-Grow-to-USD-36.6-Billion-by-2025-at-a-CAGR-of-23.9—ResearchAndMarkets.com#:~:text=The%20global%20IoT%20security%20market,23.9%25%20during%20the%2

[5] https://www.statista.com/statistics/976313/global-iot-market-size/0forecast%20period.

[6] https://www.bain.com/insights/customers-have-tempered-their-expectations-for-the-internet-of-things-snap-chart/

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By Fernando Castañolinkedin2

Senior researcher, his research interest includes Smart-sensor, Industry 4.0, Internet of things, and cyber-physical systems.

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