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The Industrial IoT

An awful lot has been written – including by us, in this blog – about the Internet of Things. All very exciting stuff, especially when you consider Cisco’s Carl Sagan-esque forecast that, by 2020, 50 billion devices will be connected.

Much of what we read about the IoT is on the consumer end, which makes sense, as the majority of those 50 billion things being connected to the Internet will be in our hands, our homes, our cars, and maybe even on our person.

But the Industrial IoT is also of interest, as I was reminded when I saw a recent post on EE Times, authored by the head of Echelon, which makes an energy control platform and, thus, is part of the IoT/IIoT.

In the post, Ron Sege points out that industrial systems have been networked for a long time. It’s just that much of this networking dates back prior to the use of devices in which Internet Protocol is embedded.

Some form of IP addressability is a prerequisite for participation in the Internet of Things (IoT) and its important subset, the Industrial IoT (IIoT). But in today’s industrial world, only a few of the established control networks are prepared to join the IIoT. (Source: EETimes)

Sege then lays out a straightforward, if obvious, way to get moving into the IIoT world.

What’s left unsaid is that wholesale changeover is hugely risky if done all at once. Remember, many of these industrial systems have been in place (and working quite nicely, thank you) for a long time. So a staged approach to transforming an older-style industrial system into one that’s fully IIoT is best.

That said, there are many interesting application areas where industrial systems could really change or enhance an industrial product or process, allowing a vendor to leapfrog its competition on features, performance, efficiency… These are applications – and they’ll obviously be different depending on the industry – where some real ingenuity is put in place on ways to use the data that’s now available on all of the newly connected devices.

Harvesting all that data: now that’s where things will get really interesting in the IIoT.