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Innovative Thinking

The Roadblock for Smooth Transition to Industrial Internet of Things

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M2M systems have conventionally been deployed to solve asset-intensive processes spread over considerable geographical areas. With every passing year, the prices of the associated equipment have followed a downward trend allowing manufacturers to expand their market base. Today, the technology is rampantly used within consumer solutions, with examples being energy meters, smart housing and security systems.

Even though the technologies required to create a full-blown IoT atmosphere are available at low prices, they have yet to be pulled together into a user-friendly form. On average, each person alive would be using between 0.8 – 5.8 devices, which highlights the need for cutting-edge communications equipment that can handle the high bandwidth requirements.

This is where wireless connectivity comes in. While there has been an explosive growth in the use of devices that are operated wirelessly, certain problems persist for industrial applications. For instance, in order to bring wireless control to a robot, low-latency communications, high-end visuals and real-time sensor data is required.

Note that this situation is much different to that of an energy meter, as the prime task here is to transfer power information to a server/central point. A break in the communications stream will not have the same disastrous effect. But, if a break occurs for time-sensitive control applications, the industry could face serious productivity losses and even safety issues at the floor.

Another challenge for manufacturers or users of IoT would be to cope with the increased cost of their equipment. Since more devices would be connected wirelessly, the need for low-power sensors would also increase that can make batteries last longer.

A principal researcher at Nokia, Mark Cudak looks to 5G as the solution to problems originating from lower latency and higher throughput. In addition, National Instruments unveiled its LabView 2015 design software that includes PXI-based wireless test systems that would equip technical teams with tools to bring practicality to their solutions.

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