What is Industrial IoT?
Industrial IoT is the subsection of the broader internet of things which looks past consumer-facing IoT products such as the connected thermostat and fitness trackers to examine the way in which arrays of connected sensors and devices can improve the production and transportation of goods.
These sensor arrays vary from very few to hundreds on a single factory floor, or thousands spread across a national distribution network. With 5G, the density of connected devices in a location will be able to increase markedly, offering businesses the ability to capture more information on their equipment and products in real-time. The data that is captured and transmitted is processed using software that can apply a degree of artificial intelligence before presenting an analysis to human operators in an easy-to-comprehend format, enabling them to make more informed decisions. Sectors which are already benefitting from industrial IoT technology include manufacturing, utilities, logistics, agriculture, healthcare and retail.
Because more is at risk in industrial IoT than in consumer IoT (you can imagine the consequences if a water network misinterprets supply information to a city), it tends to have different technological requirements. Security, resilience, endurance, ease of implementation and inter-operability are central to purchase decisions.
For the most basic industrial IoT project, the technology that you would need include:
- Hardware – these are the sensing devices that will collect the data on your assets. They need to be low cost, low power, and easy to deploy.
- Connectivity – your solution will depend on whether the assets you are tracking are fixed or mobile but due to the low power needs of IoT hardware, your connectivity solution will need to be undemanding on the devices. For the physical layer, your options include the likes of LPWAN, Cellular, Bluetooth Low Energy, Near Field Communication or WiFi.
- Device monitoring – this is your tool for managing your IoT hardware.
- Data analysis – this platform will cleanse, verify, analyse and present back the data collected by your devices to give you the insights you need.
- Deployment – the actual deployment and project management of your internet of things.
Which companies are currently leading the development of these industrial IoT technologies? CW has picked out ten of our favourites.
Arm’s low-power semiconductor technology forms the basis of billions of devices worldwide. Their designs have been redefining industries for the past twenty years, starting with their enablement of the smartphone revolution and now with their IoT product line. In 2018 Arm claimed a 90% share of controllers in IoT devices.
Among their range are software solutions and pre-integrated subsystems that help companies address the complexity and fragmentation of the IoT market. The Pelion platform is an efficient foundation for connectivity, device and data management. Elsewhere their Mbed Operating System is open source and offers everything developers need to create a connected product (including security and connectivity stacks).
This company works closely with industry-leading providers of secure elements and secure MCUs to deliver safe devices for the industrial internet of things. Their Secure Deploy architecture takes a holistic approach to solving major security issues challenging the IoT, including remote seizure of applications, feeds of false data, mission critical information harvesting, IP theft and more. It simplifies security implementation across the IoT product life cycle.
They were bought in 2018 by embedded development supplier, IAR Systems, but remain a founding member and Executive Board member of the Internet of Things Security Foundation.
Analog Devices is a world leader in the design and manufacture of a broad portfolio of high performance analog, mixed-signal, and DSP ICs used in virtually all types of electronic equipment. For the Industrial Internet of Things it has developed a range of sensors, converters, processors and transceivers to help organisations gather and transport the data they need. Their high performance sensing portfolio combines precision, power efficiency, and robustness to ensure the highest level of integrity right from the start. Meanwhile the advanced SmartMesh wireless sensor networking products are chips and pre-certified PCB modules complete with mesh networking software and enabling sensors to communicate in tough Industrial Internet of Things environments.
This Hertfordshire based company is a specialist in machine to machine connectivity. Their goal is to completely future proof all enterprise connections to the internet of things and their out-of-the-box solutions can help you connect your devices regardless of the network you’re on or the technology you’re using. They look across mobile broadband, cellular networls, LPWAN, satellite and more, and offer the tools and management services to ensure that their customers’ IoT experiences are simple. Talking of customers, these include Fujitsu, Siemens and Telent.
GeoSpock are experts in data analysis whose technology cuts through the vast quantity and complexity of information gathered by industrial internet of things solutions. Their state-of-the-art spatial big data platform can harness trillions of datapoints gathered by an IoT set-up and discover hidden patterns. Their value comes in delivering new perspectives to businesses in markets that include logistics, smart cities, maritime and telecommunications. What’s more, their user interface is so intuitive that no technical skills are required to get started!
With the sheer volumes of data now being gathered by connected devices, simple visualisation is needed to enable humans to make the valuable decisions that the internet of things was designed for. Digital Twins are an emerging phenomenon which overlay IoT datasets onto digital representations of the real-world to help support this decision making process.
SenSat is a relatively new company working in this field, but has the support of heavyweight investors such as Tencent. Their Mapp® platform has supported over £10.5bn in infrastructure builds and helps over 30 tier 1 contractors, clients and consultants automate and digitise previously manual and physical decision making. The next step for the company is to integrate advanced artificial intelligence into their platform to automate analyses.
Mining is the target of this Cambridge-based start-up. Their platform integrates artificial intelligence to make mining more efficient, sustainable and safe. It’s already in use in operations in Chile, Australia, Kazakhstan, Brazil and more.
Intellisense.io started their expansion into IoT with a wireless hardware device that could be retrofitted to existing sensors and used to extract data from remote operations. Their next step was to develop a decision-making platform that leverages sensor data and AI to make actionable decisions. The resulting “Optimisation as a Service” applications target specific process optimisations in mining operations, for example water pumping.
Kx solve industry’s problem of processing real-time data along with streaming and historical data at ultra-high speeds to enable instant decision-making. What started as a tool for the financial markets has since expanded into manufacturing, automotive, utilities, oil and gas.
They have been appointed Innovation Partner to Aston Martin Red Bull Racing thanks to the competitive advantage which the technology’s unmatched performance for ingesting and analysing sensor data has brought to their team. A typical F1 car has over 100 sensors which Kx’s platform captures, integrates and analyses to provide immediate insights.
This company provides quite a niche industrial IoT solution. Their self-powered sensors measure the electrical current in real time through a non-invasive process and the subsequent measurements can be used to deliver significant energy savings, preventive maintenance and real time failure detection. It works across a business’ entire “energy estate” and can provide insights at the macro-level for the entire site, or for individual devices.
Customers to date include a 164-acre satellite communications site that reduced energy consumption by 10% by deploying 165 sensors. Another business, this time a building materials supplier, reduced their electricity bill by over £200k per year.
The UK Government is investing in projects that explore the combination of 5G and the industrial internet of things. Worcester Bosch became the first ever factory in Britain to have 5G wireless access and used this advanced communications technology to create an Industry 4.0 style factory floor. Sensors from across the factory floor gather data and contribute to preventative maintenance and failure prediction.
The reason Worcester Bosch is interested in 5G is for its ability to connect many more sensors at once within a small area without interference or failure. 3GPP, the standards body defining 5G, has set the 5G connection density requirement of 1,000,000 connected devices per km2 with a service latency of at most 10 seconds. It really will be the mass enabler of the industrial internet of things.