In its recent whitepaper, “Industry 4.0—The Next Industrial Revolution,” Omega Engineering laid out several challenges developers and users must confront when building IIoT systems and networks:
• Power—When a local 24-V supply is unavailable, the alternative is long-life batteries coupled with innovative standby/“wake-on-LAN” strategies to minimize power consumption. Also, lower-energy variants of Wi-Fi are emerging to further extend battery life. In the future, energy-harvesting may provide free energy for the life of devices.
• Security—Industrial smart device users know the risks of communications being intercepted, and will increasingly demand that suppliers incorporate appropriate safeguards and encryption protocols.
• Data assurance—All measurement transactions are acknowledged with automatic retries, and failsafes are in place to provide local data logging at each point of possible network failure.
• Wireless range—Bluetooth and Wi-Fi_33 protocols have limited ranges, but some devices are effective over 1,000 meters (3,280 feet). Walls and other obstructions reduce ranges.
• Data rate—When devices transmit on a sample basis, data rate is seldom a problem. However, it could become a problem as the quantity of data to be sent increases. Adaptive data transmission rates based on changes of the measured value can mitigate network congestion as data quantity increases.
• Data validity—sensor health and lifetime monitoring to drive predictive maintenance
• Immunity from interference—Electrical equipment, especially motors or anything creating an arc, can cause electromagnetic interference. This may lead to data loss or reduced range. Consideration should be given to these factors when choosing sites for transmitters and receivers.
For more, read Control's August cover story, "Exploring the tools, skills needed to navigate the Industrial Internet of Things."