October 2015

Beyond the Buzzwords: Building the Internet of Things

Drowning in data

The Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) reflects the growing importance of communications as a key enabler of more powerful forms of industrial automation. New technologies and services make possible new kinds of smarter factories, and they are more efficient, more flexible and more cost-effective than traditional manufacturing facilities.

The lifeblood of the IIoT is data. However devices in the field may now collect so much data that traditional methods of batching that data and processing it at scheduled intervals are overwhelmed. Networks and computer systems will simply be overloaded by the torrent of information converging towards the center.

Indeed, the world is drowning in data: 4.4 trillion gigabytes of data were created or copied in 2013 and that figure will increase to 44 trillion gigabytes in 2020, according to IDC and EMC.

However, currently, only 22% of this data is useful.

Source: IDC, EMC Digital Universe Study (Wallstreet Journal )

The huge amount of bandwidth wasted on useless data represents a challenge—and an opportunity—for systems integrators. If the data can be preprocessed, then non-essential data can be discarded close to the source, so it will not saturate the network or distract control staff. Ensuring that data can be processed in real-time, at the edges of the network, is becoming an essential feature of Industrial IoT applications. Unlike legacy Industrial Automation processes, which are based on simpler programmable logic controllers (PLCs) and similar devices, this demands powerful computing hardware at many locations across the network—ideally x86-based.

Wireless: too hot to handle?

Traditionally, wired Ethernet networks can be used for the communications that make the Internet of Things possible, but there is a growing problem with Ethernet deployment. As more and more devices join the network, the amount of cable required to connect them all is growing, and costs are also growing. In addition, ever more widely separated devices are being connected.

Wireless provides a flexible and easy-to-install alternative to wired networks, but also presents new challenges. Wireless modules generate significant heat—cellular/mobile 3G/LTE modules can get particularly hot. For safety and performance reasons this heat must be dissipated in the host computer, which needs excellent thermal design, and a dedicated thermal solution, such as a heatsink, to stabilize the temperature. If the wireless module is removable, such as a mini-PCIe card, then it is even harder to engineer an effective heatsink in the host device. These thermal challenges must be conquered to keep wireless performance stable in all conditions.

Moxa Solutions

The industrial world now has an opportunity to simplify building new facilities or upgrading old ones, by using wireless networks to bring all equipment, both new and legacy, into the Industrial IoT. However, to maintain stability, and address concerns about relying on wireless networks for industrial applications, it is critical to protect wireless modules from overheating. Today, it is hard to find an industrial x86 computer which can keep a 3G/LTE wireless module operating through a wide temperature range. However, the Moxa V2201 series is designed to support Wi-Fi and 3G/LTE at operating temperatures from -40 to 70°C, thanks to a heatsink that protects removable modules from extreme temperatures. In addition, the V2201’s diverse I/O interfaces provide compatibility with a wide range of devices, including legacy equipment. Its powerful x86 CPU options, tiny dimensions and rugged design are all perfect for Industrial IoT applications, helping customers to build more responsive control and monitoring systems with lower installation and maintenance costs.

More Info

Visit this page for more about Moxa’s V2201 series of fanless, ultra-compact and rugged x86 industrial IoT embedded computers.

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