The term “Industry 4.0” is all the rage right now, but how viable is it to transform existing machines and industrial equipment into a connected Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) system? The advantages of connecting a device to the IoT are many, but like with any step that involves adopting a new technology, it’s important to be aware of those make-or-break factors that will lead to a product’s success, or failure.  Since IoT connectivity represents the backbone of the IIoT system as a whole, a lot of care should be taken when choosing the type of IoT communication protocols it will be using. 

Deciding on the right data integration protocol early on is critical for building a successful IoT system.

When implementing IoT, decisions regarding how the data is transferred will often seem overwhelmingly complex. Fortunately, standardization in data connectivity for the Industrial Internet of Things, along with advances in simulation tools, has made it much easier to make better and more informed decisions about data connectivity and integration.

IoT Data Integration Checklist

This checklist includes the 6 most important factors to keep in mind when considering which protocol to use for your industry 4.0 data integration.

1. Range

What is it?

Range describes the distances over which data is transferred between devices in an IoT system.

Why it Matters

If your desired IoT network requires transmitting data over large distances, using a protocol designed for short-range communication won’t work. Range can also be used to restrict the movement of data as a security measure by using protocols with especially short ranges.

 

2. Bandwidth

What is it?

The volume of data that can be transferred in a defined time period.

Why it Matters

Every protocol delivers data according to a defined packet size. The volume of data within a typical transmission should match the packet size that the chosen protocol can accommodate. Using packet sizes that are much larger than the data that needs to be sent is inefficient. On the other hand, dividing up large blocks of data so that it can be transmitted by lots of smaller packets can lead to unnecessary processing.

  

3. Power Consumption

What is it?

The power needed by a device to transmit data.

Why it Matters

This is a particularly important factor to take into account when designing products that rely on battery power. The power efficiency of the data transmission process will affect the battery life of the device, and in turn, operation costs.

 

4. Security

What is it?

Measures taken to protect data across the various stages of transmission, and during storage.

Why it Matters

When data moves from device to device it becomes vulnerable. Security is one of the main concerns of companies looking to introduce data connectivity to their products. Fortunately, there are many technologies in place to allow for secure IoT connectivity, including port protection, authentication, and encryption.

 

5. Connectivity Control

What is it?

The behavior of a device with regards to when, and for how long, it’s in a connected state in a typical use case.

Why it Matters

When a device is connected, it consumes power and uses up bandwidth. For this reason, some devices control when they’re connected and when they’re offline. This control over connectivity is also closely linked to how robust an IoT system is i.e. devices staying connected when they’re supposed to, without dropping off the network unexpectedly.

 

6. Interoperability

What is it?

The ability of one connected device, sensor or app to communicate with another, usually from a different manufacturer, host or vendor.

Why it Matters

In some cases, setting up an optimal and flexible IoT network will require the integration of a number of elements that aren’t always from the same vendor. Or, advances in technology may lead to the creation of improved devices that a user would like to switch in to replace older elements in an existing IoT setup. Capability with regards to interoperability is central to the value of an IoT product.  

 

IIoT Protocols at a Glance

Currently, the three most common IoT communication protocols are MQTT, AMQP, and CoAP.

MQTT – Message Queuing Telemetry Transport

Previously called the “SCADA protocol”, MQTT is a simple-to-implement, lightweight, ISO-approved messaging protocol especially useful for remote communication, and in cases of restrictive bandwidth. MQTT’s publish-subscribe, low power consumption, small size and efficient data distribution via minimized packets make it an excellent choice for IIoT implementations and mobile applications.

AMQP – Advanced Message Queuing Protocol

AMQP is an open-standard, feature-rich message queuing protocol that offers reliable and secure queuing, routing and orientation of messages. AMQP provides a high level of interoperability, allowing for a wide variety of communication patterns and messaging applications.

CoAP – Constrained Application Protocol

CoAP was designed specifically for connecting devices with constrained resources such as a limited power supply or small memory. New extensions to CoAP allow for defining and addressing several CoAP resources as a group, and reduced transfer times.

 

Step up your IIoT Game Today

So, where should you start? Well, based on the 6-point checklist above, you can begin by breaking down the data connectivity requirements of your product, as per each of the six factors. Then, select the iot data connection protocol that best suits those requirements.

For a more in-depth look at designing and delivering industry 4.0 systems integration, make sure to check out our library of free IoT resources.

Also, feel free to contact us to find out how the Seebo platform can assist you in advancing to Industry 4.0 without the risk, and without the headache.