Consumer IoT vs. Industrial IoT

Consumer IoT vs. Industrial IoT

But what exactly is the industrial IoT and what distinguishes it from consumer-oriented applications such as smart fridges and air conditioners?

Here are some important distinctions to help delineate the boundary between the consumer and industrial IoT ecosystems.

While a FitBit may get occasionally splashed in the rain and Amazon Dash buttons will likely come into contact with the products they are tracking, sensors destined for industrial deployment need to be able to survive environments that simply wouldn’t be encountered by consumers.

Such conditions include extremes in humidity and temperature as well as highly corrosive environments such as those encountered within wastewater infrastructure such as sewers.

In addition, inline industrial IoT sensors that measure fluids like water and oil often need to be submerged within the liquids they are measuring. Such devices need to meet the grueling industry waterproofing standard set down by the IP68 certification.

Devices also often need to be HazLoc certified to prove that they can withstand explosive and combustible environments.

Deploying complex water monitoring systems with hundreds of midpoints and endpoints spread over hundreds of kilometers is a far more complex endeavor than even the most ambitious of consumer home automation projects.

Because IIoT systems can result in the generation of billions of datapoints, consideration also has to be afforded to the means of transmitting the information from the sensors to their final destination — usually an industrial control system such as a SCADA (supervisory control and data acquisition) platform.

In order to not overwhelm these centralized systems with data, IIoT manufacturers are increasingly devising hardware that can carry out preliminary analytics directly at the device-level rather than on a program running in a cloud-based server (an emergent methodology known as edge computing or fog computing).

Consumer IoT applications naturally tend to involve fewer devices and data points. Minimizing throughput to central servers is therefore less of a concern.

IIoT sensors are often installed to measure parameters at remote infrastructure that is difficult to physically access. Such infrastructure can be situated below the surface (for example, at oil and gas facilities), atop high terrain (for example, at water reservoirs), offshore (for example, on oil wells), or even in a remote stretch of desert not accessible by roadway (at a weather station).

Deploying technicians to inspect these assets is difficult and expensive. To minimize the amount of field visits required, IIoT devices need to be engineered to have the maximum possible battery life, which is often achieved by building them with industrial-grade batteries.

IIoT’s unique, low-power, low bandwidth requirements have spurred the development of a series of nascent network families such as LPWAN and NB-IoT that are the primary means of connecting these devices to central servers.

These are engineered precisely with IoT devices’ needs in mind, which are not addressed adequately by either cellular networks (which offer high bandwidths and therefore excessively taxing on batteries) and protocols such as WiFi and Bluetooth (which are not scalable).

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