When I was growing up in Brazil I loved the “Can you spot the differences?” puzzle in Coquetel, a children’s magazine. The challenge was to spot slight differences in ten seemingly identical drawings. I thought about similarities and differences when I read the Top 10 IoT Use Cases report from IoT Analytics, published October 2021. These use cases include remote asset monitoring, process automation, vehicle fleet management, optimizing plant or asset performance, and more. All 10 use-cases share certain network requirements, like cybersecurity, tolerance for harsh environmental conditions, and a way to scale management as the deployment grows. But other network requirements vary based on the use case.
Here are some questions to help you identify network requirements for your IoT use cases.
Are your connected assets stationary or moving? How much data will they transmit?
It’s relatively simple to monitor data from stationary assets. For example, Bouchaine Vineyards collects data from temperature sensors to know when and where to irrigate. Municipal transportation departments monitor traffic signal controllers to know when the controllers need servicing. If you’re connecting stationary assets, the main considerations are:
- Bandwidth: You’ll need more if your devices generate lots of data (e.g., point-tilt-zoom HD cameras) or if you’re backhauling data from many devices.
- Type of network: Depending on what’s available, you might connect assets to a wired network, Wi-Fi, 3G, public or private LTE, 5G, wireless backhaul, etc. To avoid the complexity of managing different kinds of routers, look for one that gives you a choice of communications modules.
- Reliability: If your use case is mission-critical, you’ll need ultra-reliable connectivity. A dropped connection that halts operations can cause financial loss.
It gets more complicated when we think about connected assets that are in motion— for example, Wi-Fi hotspots on trains, environmental sensors on trucks transporting perishables, or container-handling equipment at ports. Network requirements in these use cases include low latency and seamless hand-offs between wireless networks. If you’re connecting moving equipment – for example, robots, cranes, autonomous vehicles, etc. in warehouses, ports, and mines – ultra-high reliability is crucial to prevent accidents.
Is sensor data used for real-time decisions?
If so, you’ll need a highly responsive network, with low latency. For example, think about tele-remote operation of vehicles in ports and mines, where an operator in the office remotely controls a vehicle while viewing real-time video feeds from a vehicle-mounted camera. Delays in the video feed can mean the operator misses a turn or obstacle, causing an accident. In contrast, if you’re simply checking that perishables in a truck weren’t exposed to unsafe conditions during the trip, a little latency won’t make a difference.
Common denominators: cybersecurity, remote management, rugged enclosures
No matter how you’re using industrial IoT, some network features are mandatory. Security protections are one. Cyberattacks can cause downtime, revenue loss, worker safety issues, quality problems, and disruption of critical infrastructure services. We design physical security and cybersecurity into all Cisco industrial networking products. For example, hardware devices are tamperproof. Software is authenticated and protected. All traffic is encrypted with the latest standards. And Cisco Cyber Vision provides visibility into all connected assets and monitors their traffic to flag potential breaches.
Another universal requirement is secure remote management of network devices. We have tools that help IT teams efficiently deploy and manage a growing number of connected devices—working from the office or home. These include Cisco DNA Center and Cisco IoT Operations Dashboard.
Finally, equipment deployed outdoors or in warehouse-like environments needs to withstand harsh environmental conditions like extreme temperatures, wind, water and salt.
Our industrial IoT portfolio has you covered
Summing up, like the drawings in the Coquetel magazine puzzle, industrial IoT use cases differ in some ways and overlap in others. No matter how you’re using IoT, we have network devices to meet your needs.
- Blog: Why industrial ethernet switches? Putting the ‘purpose’ in purpose built.
- Cisco Ultra-Reliable Wireless Backhaul
- Cisco Industrial Switches
- Cisco Industrial Routers
- Cisco IoT Security
- Top 10 IoT Use Cases, from IoT Analytics
What IoT use cases are you thinking about? Share your thoughts in the comment box.
Subscribe to our newsletter to keep up with the latest Internet of Things trends and insights to help you succeed with your IoT deployments.