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LTE Cellular Technology—The Future of the IIoT

Dec 06, 2016
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LTE technology is the fastest growing cellular technology today. Already a popular standard in smartphones, it is being rapidly deployed in industrial devices and applications. Industrial operators, especially those considering adopting the IIoT, have realized the potential of the LTE cellular technology in connecting disparate industrial systems that support a growing number of devices distributed over multiple locations. LTE cellular connectivity is designed to provide reliable, broad coverage with low latency, which is a key requirement in mission-critical industrial applications. In this article we discuss additional benefits that LTE cellular technology can bring to your IIoT applications and explain these benefits using a case study.

Easy and Secure Remote Access

Long-range and wide-area applications are no longer restricted by distance and speed constraints. Network devices built using the LTE standard can support the high bandwidth and speed needed for large-scale long-distance network applications, such as intelligent transportation systems (ITS), power distribution, and water treatment and distribution systems. Most of these LTE cellular devices also offer built-in security features and secure remote communication tools, such as VPN with support for OpenVPN, IPSec, GRE, and NAT protocols, without compromising the network speed. LTE cellular technology is therefore ideal for distributed industrial applications that require uninterrupted connectivity and high data speeds.

Future-Proofing IIoT Devices and Applications

One of the reasons for the phenomenal rise in the adoption of the LTE cellular technology in the IIoT is the need to future proof IIoT applications. Due to the high cost of replacing industrial equipment and applications, industrial operators expect their systems to work without failure for 10-15 years, or more. The flat, all-IP architecture of LTE technology makes it more flexible and scalable, which is ideal for IIoT applications. LTE technology also provides built-in data security. Business operators who adopt the LTE cellular technology do not have to frequently deal with disruptive and expensive upgrades to their equipment and applications.

LTE Cellular Solutions Optimized for the IIoT

The mind-boggling rate at which the LTE cellular technology is adopted in various applications across different industries has come as a boon to operators. Various industrial consortiums and company partnerships are focused on developing this technology further. The availability of LTE chipsets and modules that are specifically developed for the IoT is accelerating the development of LTE devices for the IIoT. The mass production of these devices is also driving the cost down. As the technology matures with more and more features and capabilities being included at a rapid pace, both for hardware and software, it provides additional incentives to manufacturers as well as users to embrace LTE cellular technology and solutions.

Case-in-Point: Building a Reliable Cellular Network for an Intelligent Transportation System

Intelligent transportation systems (ITS) ensure the safety of commuters by helping all users better understand traffic information and by building intelligence into the transportation network for efficient coordination of traffic operations. Uninterrupted real-time data transmission is the key to improving the traffic flow and reducing accidents. LTE cellular gateways are ideal solutions for reliable high-bandwidth data transmission between the numerous traffic points and the traffic control center. LTE cellular gateways can also be deployed in highway or roadside intelligent traffic control systems, such as electronic toll collection systems, intersection monitoring systems, and CMS boards.

For example, in an ETC system, the accuracy of the vehicle details and toll information is vital to efficient toll collection. An LTE cellular gateway can be used to establish reliable, fast communication between ETC terminals and the control center to transfer data collected from the various remote devices and IOs. Traffic light sequencing and control systems and video surveillance at the intersections help coordinate and monitor the traffic flow and detect violations. Data from a variety of devices connected to the Gigabit Ethernet ports of the gateway needs to be transmitted to the traffic control center using the cellular network. The cellular gateways deployed in small outdoor cabinets located along highways and roads should be able to withstand the high temperature generated inside these cabinets. In addition to the large volume of data collected from the wayside devices, information such as the status (open/closed) of the wayside cabinet doors helps secure these cabinets against intrusions and sabotage.


Moxa’s Solution

Moxa’s OnCell LTE gateways deliver reliable connectivity in harsh environments for 24/7 wireless operations to meet the diverse needs of your large-scale network applications. In addition, the following functions and features provide an ideal solution for your high-speed long-distance critical industrial applications:

  • Dual cellular operator backup with dual-SIM GuaranLink for reliable cellular connectivity
  • Rugged hardware design well suited for hazardous locations (ATEX Zone 2/IECEx)
  • Industrial design with dual-power inputs and built-in DI/DO support
  • Power isolation design for better device protection against harmful electrical interference
  • VPN secure connection capability with IPSec, GRE, and OpenVPN protocols
  • OnCell Central Manager support for remote network device management and low-cost private-IP solutions

Download the application note for additional information and use cases.

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