IoT vs. Industrial IoT

Differences That Matter

The Internet of Things (IoT) enables disruptive transformation across multiple market segments, from consumer, enterprise, agriculture, healthcare, manufacturing, and utilities to government and cities.

Industrial IoT (IIoT), a subset of the larger IoT, focuses on the specialized requirements of industrial applications, such as manufacturing, oil and gas, and utilities.

A consumer IoT device may have the same functionality as an IIoT device, and still not be considered an industrial product. 

The parameters that differentiate IoT from industrial IoT include:

  • Security
  • Interoperability
  • Scalability
  • Precision and Accuracy
  • Programmability
  • Low latency
  • Reliability
  • Resilience
  • Automation
  • Serviceability

1. Security

Security is critical for all IoT solutions, but industrial IoT solutions require more robust measures. IIoT solutions employ a variety of advanced security measures, from secure and resilient system architectures, specialized chipsets, encryption and authentication, threat detection, to management processes.

2. Interoperability

Industrial IoT solutions must co-exist in an environment with a significant amount of legacy operations technologies (OT), including SCADA, M2M, and other purpose built manufacturing execution systems.

3. Scalability

Industrial networks are specialized large scale networks supporting tens of thousands (or more) of controllers, robots, machinery, and other purpose built applications.

IIoT solutions deployed into these networks must scale seamlessly, now and later, to support tens of thousands of new sensors, devices and controllers, as well as existing non-IoT devices.

4. Precision and Accuracy

Industrial operations require higher levels of precision and accuracy. Automated high volume, high speed manufacturing processes are synchronized to milliseconds.

5. Programmability

Industrial and OT systems, from programmable logic controllers to machining equipment, are frequently reprogrammed and reconfigured to support new processes. Industrial IoT solutions supporting industrial and manufacturing applications must provide the same flexibility and adaptability to support operations.

6. Low latency

In a high speed continuous production system with sensors monitoring every aspect of the operation, every second matters.

Industrial IoT solutions must similarly be built to support the low latency requirements of some industrial applications.

7. Reliability

Industrial systems operate in long time scales before replacement. They operate in harsh environments, sometimes subject to extreme heat, cold, high vibration, pressure, and dust conditions.  Industrial IoT solutions may be subject to the same conditions and requirements.

8. Resilience

Mission critical industrial processes and systems, where downtime (or even access for service) is not an option, are designed with resilience in mind. A breakdown in one part of the system will not stop operations.

Industrial IoT solutions, in mission critical operations, must support fault tolerance, or resilience capabilities in its design. 

9. Automation

Many industrial processes are highly automated from start to finish, with limited to no human intervention. IoT solutions operating in industrial environments need to support a range of autonomy requirements. 

10. Serviceability

Industrial systems must operate reliably and predictably in harsh conditions for years and years.

IoT solutions operating in industrial environments must be serviceable in order to sustain the levels of performance required.

Key takeaways

Functionality is important, but isn’t the only determinant of whether an IoT solution is “industrial” ready or not. There are ten other parameters that must be considered. In reality, IoT and IIoT solutions may incorporate all these parameters, but differ in what is implemented and how.

It’s important to understand the specific use cases, as well as the environments the solutions will be placed into.

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