Top Five Wireless Considerations for Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT)
By: Matt Nelson, CEO and President of AvaLAN Wireless Systems, Inc.1. Connection Reliability
Reliable industrial device connectivity can be the difference between success and failure. There are many different wireless technologies and standards. One of the biggest differences between different wireless technologies is their reliability. Wireless technology can be designed for “industrial” reliability. Most consumer wireless technologies are not build for the reliability demands of the industrial device market and can result in very poor operating results. From the hardware components operating at wide temperature ranges to wireless communications protocols that manage RF interference, packet error correction and guaranteed Ethernet packet delivery, choosing a reliable wireless connectivity platform or technology is critical.2. Data Throughput
Data throughput is the speed or rate at which data needs to be traveling to and from and industrial device. Connecting industrial devices to the internet is simple in concept but, to insure success of any project it is important to know home much data and how often data needs to be obtained from your device. There is a wide variety of industrial devices today that are being connected to the internet for data collection and device interactivity. Sensor devices typically need only small amounts of data throughput but the interval at which the data is collected ranges from milliseconds to days. Other industrial devices may require higher data throughput because of the quantity of data being transferred to and from the device, like a large database of information being used the device. Most IIoT devices are being wirelessly connected for cloud based monitoring and control of the device. Command and control of IIoT devices typically does not require a large amount of data throughput.
3. Wireless Range
Industrial wireless device connectivity range can make a big difference in what technology is chosen. Range is the distance from the device to the network access point. IIoT devices connection to the internet or private networks fall into the same wide-area (WLAN) and local-area(LAN) network categories that most IT professionals are accustomed. Many remote IIoT devices can be serviced by a wireless cellular LTE gateway. Devices that are within 5 miles of a network access point or internet gateway can be connected with other local wireless network connectivity devices and technology.
4. Network Cyber Security
Data security is never important until the data is taken or a device is tampered with unexpectedly. IIoT device security isn’t simply a good practice, it is critical to the integrity of your system and the long term operation of the devices and their system. While some system architects approach network security from an insurance standpoint, it is a much better practice to build security into an IIoT system from the beginning with a focus on reliability. The better the security the more reliable your IIoT system will be. Because so much of the industrial IoT market is about device command and control or automation, the security of the system is very important. Simple firewalls help to take out a large portion of potential intrusions but insuring that high quality data encryption and device network verification and validation at each individual device on the end points of any IIoT system works best.
5. Industry Proven Technology
Most IIoT applications are dependent on the devices operation to be working 24x7. There are many different wireless connectivity technologies and innovation continues year after year. Industrial applications do not support high failure rates that are typical with newer technologies so, having a proven solution that has been used and deployed in multiple installations is more important than insuring you have the “latest and greatest”. Choose robust technologies that have a track record for success in IIoT wireless connectivity.