The path to Industrial IoT seems simple when you look at it, but when you get into the pointy end, it’s not so simple. We asked Mitchell Gooden our Head of Products and Strategy to share his insights on how Industrial IoT is progressing in the market.
Our journey with Industrial IoT started when we had a customer ask us to help them to help connect some new sensors to run across their Private 4G network.
What we found when we looked a bit deeper is the Industrial IoT ecosystem is highly siloed. There are a lot of sensors and numerous analytics platforms, but the gap in the middle, the connectivity, and how to integrate the sensor into the broader customer data ecosystem is where customers were left to fend for themselves.
An IIoT solution often involves more than one kind of connectivity, as not everything is one kind of fixed or wireless connection. There’s Public LTE, Private LTE, NB-IoT, LoRaWAN, Sigfox, legacy Ethernet and historians to contend with.
Then you’ve got the nuances between the various 4G and 5G technology providers.
We had customers who were told “Just pop a sim in it and the data will flow” which didn’t end up being the case. They came to us and it ended up being an exercise in back and forth between both the sensor manufacturer and LTE vendor. Finally, with a couple of goes, a firmware or configuration change, we managed to get the sensor live on their Private 4G network.
How do they integrate? Do they integrate?
Aqura has responded by focusing on making it easier by allowing our customers to concentrate on identifying the data they need, and we would focus on the best way of getting the data to them.
We’ve worked with a number of the more popular IIoT vendors to validate their sensors on public and private 4G and now 5G platforms so our customers can focus on the point of the IIoT exercise – gaining the insights. Getting caught up in configuring devices is just a distraction from this.
Designing for Success
With the opportunity for IIoT devices to be the significant volume of devices on a network, building out a network design is critical, to flow data from source to insight. Critically the network needs to be robust with security firmly in mind to provide confidence that the sensor will report reliably and without intervention, in some cases for up to a decade.
Our integration work will go beyond just connecting the sensors in the near future. With a roadmap well underway, we’re working to provide our customers with a single view of their devices via a platform which can manage the performance of their IIoT environment. This IIoT management environment helps to onboard new devices and manage status of existing assets covering aspects such as battery life, the sensor’s location if it is mobile, through to identifying if sensors are providing too little, or too much data.
How to start?
The industries’ approach to Industrial IoT has often proven to be a different from the usual approach of trying to develop a business case first before proceeding to a proof of concept trial and ultimately a full-scale deployment.
Our engagements have focused on getting to the benefit sooner – a client knowing there is data that they can acquire, trialling with a proof-of-concept to see what data they can get, validating the business value by modelling the insights and then building out from there.
This approach has been very successful as customers can validate value and then build processes and leverage insights on a realistic volume of data and avoid a data deluge which can result in analysis paralysis.
Whilst the industry is fragmented and changing quickly, Industrial IoT brings great promise, and with LTE offering the lowest per sensor cost for deployment, a significant ecosystem of sensors for all manner of applications, it is critical that security and reliability are addressed, and provide a framework for scaling up.
For more information aqura.com.au/industrial-iot/