Initiatives leveraging the potential of IoT are on the rise in the manufacturing industry around the globe. For any IoT implementation to be successful, it requires the right software platforms to deploy, control, and connect IoT devices, as well as to capture data from those devices.
IoT platform, in a broad sense, can be described as a middleware solution that takes data from sensors and devices and delivers it to end-user applications. Additionally, it connects your hardware to the cloud by using flexible connectivity options, security mechanisms, and data processing. Thus, platforms play a critical role in the development of IoT, especially in an industrial enterprise, as they deliver the following advantages:
- Connect and authenticate devices and sensors
- Handle different communication protocols
- Device management
- Integrate with other web services
- Ensure security
- Collect, visualize, and analyze data
IoT platform selection – options available
While going for an IoT platform, you can build your own platform, partner with an existing platform, or develop a point application with common tools from cloud service providers. Buying vs building an IoT platform has been a key project decision for many organizations. Building an IoT platform is an option for companies that have a development group experienced in designing extensive IoT solutions or for businesses who do not find a suitable IoT solution in the market.
However, if your organization does not have required IoT expertise in-house, an off-the-rack platform will provide the best ROI. Choosing an existing platform requires much less investment and can help capitalize on the effort of the platform provider. Today, there is an array of IoT platforms readily available in the market. The advantage of using them is that they have already done the bulk of the work, which allows you to focus on your core application. IIoT platforms providers are adding new functionalities like support for multi-cloud environments, edge computing, artificial intelligence, digital twins, and virtual/augmented reality applications to aid manufacturers to avail the full benefits of IoT in manufacturing.
Choosing the right IoT platform – pointers
Choosing an IoT platform is an important decision that can impact the very core of IoT implementation in a manufacturing organization. What are some of the pivotal factors you should consider while adopting an IoT platform?
The needs of an organization are ever changing. You need to think ahead to when your company grows and the number of connected devices increases. Scalability in IoT refers not only to the ability to scale in the number of devices, but every aspect of it, including cloud, software application, data, security and reliability among others.
IoT solutions are getting more complex and dynamic. The platform should be flexible enough to keep up with rapidly changing technology and business environment. IoT platforms must be built with a foundation that supports future growth. Whatever features, protocols, or new technologies might be required in the coming years, an IoT platform should ensure that it is flexible enough to accommodate them.
Data can provide actionable insights into operations to reduce inefficiencies and improve processes. Data analytics tools play a crucial part in IoT in manufacturing that wants to collect, monitor and analyze data from their machines. Platforms should provide basic descriptive analytics, visualization, diagnostics, predictive analytics and machine learning tools. The platform should also be capable of processing high-velocity, high-volume streams of data. `
Security is essential to any IoT system. This is because safety and data security are paramount, as breaches could have catastrophic consequences, especially in the manufacturing sector.Thus, an IoT platform technology must have enterprise-grade security in every aspect of IoT spectrum, from connected product to a cloud-based app.
Consider the stability of the platform and the reliability of the platform provider. Avoiding vendor lock-in is of prime importance while creating a future-proof architecture. This is particularly true in manufacturing where the IoT solutions need long-term support.
IoT technology is already redefining the way manufacturing works and how the global economy functions. However, there is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ IoT platform for every application. Thus, the challenge here is to find the right platform that fulfills your solution requirements. But choosing a platform should start with a clear understanding of an organization’s IoT strategy. Find your requirements and constraints, the kinds of problems you are facing and the likely solutions and use cases. This will help you to advance to a scalable, flexible, secure, and easy-to-integrate IoT platform for your business.