The Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT)
The digital ecosystem known as the Industrial Internet of Things has resulted in an explosion of available information in the industrial environment, resulting in the ability for smarter decision making.
What is the IIoT?
More than a buzz phrase, the Industrial Internet of Things is reshaping automation, engineering and infrastructure. Many low cost and previously dumb devices are now capable of capturing and publishing information about their operation in real time. By harnessing and distributing the wealth of data created by previously unconnected, non-automated processes and equipment, companies can collect and analyse operational data from all areas of their business, which drives efficiencies and reduces costs.
How IIoT data is collected and distributed
IIoT data is commonly made available using a publish / subscribe model. A device publishes the information type that it provides and then a consumer subscribes to the data. One common publish / subscribe data communications transfer protocol is MQTT. MQTT is a machine-to-machine (M2M) data transfer protocol that has cemented its position as the de facto messaging protocol for IIoT applications. MQTT has many advantages including:
• It is lightweight
• Uses report-by-exception (RBE)
• Works on a publish/subscribe model
• Has bi-directional capabilities
• Has minimal bandwidth requirements for remote monitoring
• Is suitable for industrial control systems
• Is product independent
The advantages of MQTT as a data transfer protocol over protocols that operate a poll / response model, which tend to saturate data connections with unchanging data are clear and make it ideal for IIoT devices. MQTT can be encrypted with TLS (Transport Layer Security) / SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) to provide secure lightweight communications for IIoT devices.
Using a remote telemetry unit (RTU) as an ‘edge’ OT IIoT gateway device
Emirates National Est.’ TBox LT2 all-in-one Remote Telemetry Unit (RTU) is being developed as an MQTT-based edge/gateway device for marshalling and transferring data securely from remote OT devices to a company’s IT infrastructure. For remote networks with IIoT devices that are not easily accessible over traditional networks the TBox LT2’s 3G / 4G capabilities will be utilised. Additionally using the TBox LT2 as an MQTT gateway device would allow:
• Logic processing to be performed in the RTU
• The control of field-based devices
• Data to be locally timestamped and stored, guaranteeing delivery into the IT environment
• Secure data transfer using TLS / SSL encryption and authentication of the MQTT data
Other LT2 features:
SCADA as an IIoT gateway
For larger remote networks, organisations may benefit from using a SCADA system as an ‘edge’ device to marshal and securely transfer data to the IT environment. Using a SCADA system as an OT / IT gateway utilising the MQTT IIoT data transfer protocol would be a highly scalable data gateway, which would scale from marshalling 100 to 10,000 IIoT devices.