Sensors and devices 

For consumer oriented IoT, sensors and devices typically have a short lifespan. An IoT device such as a GPS tracker or a smart fitness band, for example, are personal devices designed to be replaced relatively often and their battery can be easily and frequently recharged. They are also typically subject to continuous supervision by the end user. The costs can be high (e.g. a smart phone) as these devices can provide an extensive set of features.

Industrial IoT devices, in contrast, are left largely unmonitored, have long-life cycles (they should last at least 10 years before replacement) and are typically battery powered. The battery must therefore be able to match the lifetime of the asset monitored. In addition, very small batches of data are generally exchanged (a few bytes per day), with latency being a lower priority issue, depending on the application.

Communication infrastructure

We define the communication infrastructure as the access network layer (either physically wired or wireless).

Traditional communication networks are designed to support general purpose services; the major requirement for communication networks is to reduce the cost of data transmission whilst maximising network throuput as well as minimising delays. The evolution from 2G to 3G, 4G LTE and the upcoming 5G wireless network goes in this direction. Network planning for this model is somewhat simplified because it can rely on the user’s feedback (i.e. when you move in search of better coverage for your smartphone).

On the other hand, network planning for Industrial IoT has some real constraints: devices are usually installed in a fixed position so the user needs reliable coverage from the initial installation (a meter cannot move to search better coverage). Besides, you cannot change the device when network technology change so the network must be designed to grow over time, to accept new services and above all, to be able to deal with millions of devices without service degradation.

Head-end systems

The head end system (HES) and the application platform for IIoT provide different services to different domains. On one hand, the HES manages the communication network to allow continuous operations as well as manage all the devices and sensors accessing the IIoT network.

On the other hand, the application platform needs to guarantee essential functions such as communication security and data collection as well as provide a single-entry point for all the Big Data applications by means of high-level, standard based Application Programming Interfaces (APIs).

Just like the two previous elements, the HES must be designed with versatility in mind, since it needs to support both the communication infrastructure and the devices for their entire lifetime. Just as the IIoT communication infrastructure must be designed to expand from local to nationwide coverage, the HES must be highly scalable and based on a truly solid architecture. 

To overcome the integration issues of building a carrier-grade, head-end system for IIoT, Inkwell Data has designed a brand new platform: ALTIOR