Industrial IoT: at the service of ideas

This is nothing new. We are not talking about a breakthrough technology that will appear with force in 2020. The IoT is something that has been on the minds of its precursors for many years, since the 1990s, simply waiting for communications and systems integration techniques to support their ideas.

And it is precisely this last word that is the key to understanding the reasons why its adoption in the industrial field has not been as rapid as predicted by the major global consulting firms. The truth is that we are not talking about a technology in itself, whose mere application is capable of solving a problem, but about a concept of application of several technologies in the service of a basic premise: an idea.

During the first years of the IoT boom, there have been situations in which medium-sized and large companies did not take steps, but real leaps towards the “application” of IoT in industrial environments. The problem is that these leaps were simply based on investing heavily in IoT devices, whose data turned out to be anecdotal or ancillary.

From the experience accumulated by our IDboxRT team, we subscribe to the maxim “What can’t be measured can’t be improved”. But the hype that IIoT is experiencing should not drag us into an unjustified eagerness to collect useless data, the counterpart to this maxim is that we should only and exclusively measure those parameters that allow us to achieve the expected ROI.

On this solid basis, a tide of device manufacturers, models, protocols, etc. appears before the leaders of these initiatives. In this sense, it is difficult to predict which of them will dominate the market in the medium term, so it is essential to have an open IoT platform that allows communication with a variety of devices in a simple way, as this greatly facilitates the choice of the right device for each use, without fear that certain data will remain isolated as the technology evolves.

At the level of communication protocols, we find a variety of lightweight protocols that allow communication with remote devices powered by batteries, whose duration can reach several years depending on the protocol used and the refresh rate. From the well-known MQTT, through CoAP, to other less recognizable protocols such as BACnet, we will find a multitude of protocols implemented by different devices, which may create doubts in those who have data processing platforms with low flexibility.

It is precisely this open nature what makes the Operational Intelligence tool that we developed at CIC Consulting Informático de Cantabria, IDboxRT, appear as one of the references in Gartner’s 2018 Competitve Landscape: IoT Platform Vendors. Without being able to be considered solely an IoT platform, the ability to ingest data from any device, regardless of the protocol, makes IDbox one of the safest bets in this regard, since whatever direction the industry takes, our customers will always be able to integrate their data, combining different protocols.

The possibility of combining data from our “IoT park” with process data directly collected from PLCs, SCADAs, databases or even third party WebServices allows IDboxRT customers to contextualize the information, implement mathematical models, combining all this data, and analyze the results to improve decision making in real time.

In short, from the IDboxRT team, we are sure that the implementation of IoT initiatives in the industrial field will undoubtedly bring substantial improvements both in terms of control and process optimization, as long as we focus on the value that each piece of data can bring to the heart of any initiative: an idea.