Cellular Networks in Industrial Internet of Things
When it comes to implementing Industrial IoT (Internet of Things) projects, the choice of connectivity can affect how the solution performs, its effective range, reliability, device battery-use as well as how much data of different types it can transfer and at what speed. Although there are many connectivity options available, cellular IoT connectivity is becoming increasingly popular as a simple, scalable and secure way to get your devices connected. Manufacturers around the world are seeking to transform their businesses with Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) applications that can increase productivity, reduce equipment downtime and improve the efficiency of factory operations and processes.
A number of organisations have deployed cellular IoT networks to address a range of business problems and enable smart manufacturing. For a lot of these projects, organizations establish connectivity to obtain data from various devices. Cellular IoT networks and devices are getting cheaper and becoming more widespread and this is attracting more and more interest.
Cellular connectivity in Industrial IoT application
Linking connected devices with cellular connectivity has long been a goal of industrial engineers in building autonomous manufacturing equipment, and factory automation systems. Mobile technology has provided the ability for companies to seamlessly increase the speed and expand the data processing capability of the systems. Cellular connectivity has enabled companies to transmit and process large amounts of information in a short time without the need to send all the data through a centralized IT infrastructure. This offers organizations the opportunity to implement strategies for machine health monitoring, with the help of wireless industrial IoT sensors without the need to build out their own infrastructure.
Impact of different cellular standards on IoT connectivity
Cellular connections are highly flexible with various protocols. In general, LTE (Long Term Evolution) is the dominant worldwide approach and is preferred by many IIoT service providers due to its low cost, ease of implementation, and low power requirement. The following mobile LTE standards and bands are typically deployed globally: LTE-A: 1.9 GHz LTE-M: 700 MHz LTE-NB: 700 MHz LTE-LAA: 800 MHz LTE-LTA: 1900 MHz LTE-MvR: 2400 MHz .
Device vendors are introducing new cellular IoT devices, IoT ready routers and gateways as well as new solutions that fit into IIoT solutions like IoT apps, IIoT system integration and device analytics. Incorporating cellular connectivity for scaling IoT solutions will increase the range of applications for Plug and Play Sensors that will increase the efficiency of Industrial IoT roll outs and fast reconfigurations to meet evolving business needs.
Reliable connectivity is essential to obtain critical information about the health and performance of the machines, which is why industries are pushing for newer technologies that can offer faster and accurate information. For effective deployment of cellular IoT systems, solution providers and multi-national end user companies are looking for solutions that provide worldwide support (2G, 3G and LTE). These are already becoming popular among businesses for scaling IoT solutions and ensuring smoother deployment on a global basis.
Cellular standards can have a direct impact on the performance, range, ease of development, security, reliability and cost of implementation for scaling IoT in manufacturing industry. Traditional sim cards used in the cellular IoT devices are restricted to single network carriers, and require a technician to manually insert / replace sim cards, which leads to deployment bottlenecks, especially in remote locations. These challenges are resolved with newer e-sim platforms, which consist of a non-removable chip that downloads the carrier profile over the air and allows for multiple telecom providers to be programmed in advance so that the device can select the best connection.
IoT devices with E-sim comes with one sim card and cellular module. These devices offer the flexibility of deploying anywhere across the world, and ensure reliable connectivity due to their capability to swap carriers, without physical human interaction. These devices are a boon for monitoring machines in complex and hard to reach locations, and help to avoid the logistical challenges during movement. All these features facilitate faster scalability for IoT applications.
Benefits of cellular IoT connectivity
Cellular connectivity is becoming increasingly popular for implementing integrated machine-to-machine communications that facilitate wireless condition monitoring of industrial assets. This is because Cellular IoT connectivity offers high network reliability. The high data rates (10-100 Gbps) in which cellular IoT devices transmit data are not affected by either bad weather conditions and the distance between the base station and the device has much less impact than many other wireless communication options. This is important as cellular connectivity has the best coverage and the ability to avoid overload problems. It also offers greater freedom of mobility which helps to obtain connectivity even in the complex environments where equipment is not stationary.
Mobile technology is increasingly transforming Industrial IoT applications and solutions due to its advantages. In the field of industrial IoT, different manufacturing verticals will continue to use cellular IoT devices as the most successful implementation.
Digitalization of manufacturing operations ensure reduced downtime & improved productivity, and cellular networks play a crucial in accomplishing it. Cellular Networks offer organizations the opportunity to leverage technology, to fast-track their Industry 4.0 journey. The availability of cellular network coverage makes it quicker and less expensive for manufacturers to monitor industrial assets, even in remote and hard to reach areas. As cellular networks move towards 5G, it offers greater opportunity for organizations to leverage data, with faster connections enabling greater capacity for handling real-time information, to unleash the full potential of Industrial IoT.