Connectivity Technologies and the Growth of IIoT

POSTED BY Scarlett Woodford
Industrial IoT (Industrial Internet of Things) refers to the application of IoT technology in industrial sectors. With a focus on M2M (machine-to-machine) communication and machine learning, Industrial IoT enables corporations to improve efficiency and reliability of key operations, leading to reduced costs and a minimisation of unplanned downtime. For this reason, IIoT connections will grow in every sector served by it, but it will be smart manufacturing the key growth sector of the Industrial IoT market over the next five years, accounting for 22 billion connections by 2025. But what measures should enterprises implement to make a success of IIoT?

Fragmentation is probably the most important issue to take into consideration. Indeed, fragmentation has always been a problem for the IoT. As IoT solutions can, and do, use different wireless network protocols like Wi-Fi, LoRa, Zigbee, Bluetooth or 5G, this shows the fragmentation at a very basic level. Each of these network types has specific characteristics optimised for different use cases, which poses the risk for significant financial and time costs for connecting solutions from different communication protocols.

Choosing the right connectivity technology is therefore fundamental. Enterprises in the Industrial IoT ecosystem must ensure that they implement the most applicable connectivity technologies, based on the size, scope and range of operations. If an inappropriate, or less appropriate, technology is introduced, businesses risk running a substandard operation; resulting in reduced efficiency and elevated costs.

Operators should free up spectrum bandwidth by switching off the older, less profitable networks, such as 2G and 3G. In fact, even if 3G cellular technologies are commonly used within IoT for the intermittent transition of small quantities of data, the pricing difference between 3G and 4G is now practically non-existent. We therefore would recommend that operators look towards migrating 3G IoT connections to 4G.

However, recently, more interest as gathered towards the implementation of 5G. This makes sense as, while 5G is not an absolute necessity for IoT, the two are mutually supportive. IoT is a data-centric endeavour. While geographically stable IoT devices will be able to use local connective networks, those that are more mobile will need to tap into mobile telecoms. This creates opportunities at the infrastructure, device and component levels, which can be accessed by 5G technology.

Indeed, 5G will be a critical part of the unifying infrastructure that allows millions of devices to talk to each other and to provide human agents with the data they want from the IoT. This means that 5G services will be crucial in maximising the value of a smart factory to service users, by leveraging the technology to enable superior levels of autonomy amongst operations. Private 5G networks will prove most valuable when used for the transmission of large amounts of data in environments with a high density of connections and when significant levels of data are generated. This, in turn, will enable large-scale manufacturers to reduce operational spend through efficiency gains.

Our latest whitepaper, Industrial Revolution 4.0 – The Future of IIoT, explores the new trends shaping IIoT as well as providing strategic recommendations for successful implementation.

Download the Whitepaper: Industrial Revolution 4.0 – The Future of IIoT

Related Research: Industrial IoT