For years, organizations have been collecting sensor data and managing their operational processes using SCADA and M2M networks. But today, with ongoing advances in five areas – high-speed processors and DSPs, low‐cost memory, broadband wireless connectivity, high-resolution sensors, and a rich set of standards – the number of monitored and managed points in any organization’s process is exploding.
This is the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), which focuses on industrial markets and connecting their applications to any device, to another system, and to the Internet. IIoT is the ability to understand a process in extremely granular detail, so the process is continuously optimized relative to supporting and dependent processes, improving efficiencies.
As a result of the rapid proliferation of networked points spurred by IIoT, organizations now face new and dynamic challenges created by vast numbers of devices connected outside of the traditional enterprise network domain. This connectivity challenges organizations in the areas of management, security, and networking.
Is This Explosive Growth Possible?
Projections show the IIoT market growing by 6 billion devices over the next four years; an average of FOUR MILLION devices per DAY. Is this possible? YES!
Consider a couple of illustrations of explosive IIoT growth:
An electric utility is modernizing its generation and transmission assets, as well as deploying Smart Grid applications to improve efficiencies in energy distribution and metering. This utility will install and deploy:
- 1 million connected devices in the power generation plants
- 2 million connected devices in the transmission and distribution substations
- 16 Million smart meters, with 4 to 5 connected devices behind each meter, for load management and Smart Grid applications
In four years, this single utility will contribute roughly 100 million devices to the Industrial Internet of Things.
A second illustration of the explosive growth in IIoT is an oil and gas company automating its production processes from what is now a manual process. Over the next couple of years, the rollout of automation will add approximately 4.2 million connected devices (8 sensors per well, 8 wells per pad, 20 sensors for separation and storage) to the IIoT.
As in these examples, companies are embracing IIoT as a means to understand their process and improve their efficiencies. So IIoT is here to stay, and is poised to grow by billions of devices per year. But without fundamental changes to IIoT networks and devices, IIoT will create extremely complex challenges in enterprise security, spectral access, and management.
Standards are Essential
Since no one company can provide an entire solution to complex IIoT processes, standards simplify integration and enable rapid IIoT ecosystem development. Standards enable a competitive landscape, which lowers cost, improves performance, and shortens development cycles. There are a variety of IIoT standards for connectivity, link, transport, communication, and processing.
Where to Now?
With the vast number of devices being added, three areas need advancement: security, spectrum management, and networking.
Security of SCADA, M2M, and now IIoT networks must become paramount with the ever- increasing numbers of sensors and devices being introduced daily, since each new sensor or device presents an entry point into the operational network and, in turn, an entry point into the enterprise network. Security must be approached so threats are detected as far out into the network as possible and mitigated as early as possible. In order to achieve this multi-tiered defense, areas to consider are:
- Securing IIoT devices against hijacking and malicious software.
- Authenticating all connected devices in a network, and with or without access to AAA servers in the back office.
- Deploying smart monitoring applications that are cognizant of Process Trending, so intruders who are not detected cannot create a single point of crisis.
- Continuing to elevate encryption and secure information handling in a manner that addresses Critical Infrastructure requirements.
Today, many wireless networks are installed with all devices transmitting at maximum power because this practice is the best one to guarantee link reliability. Unfortunately, this practice elevates the noise floor and creates self-interference.
Since the overwhelming number of IIoT devices will be wireless devices or radios, devices must become cognizant of their environment and automatically adjust to any changes. Otherwise, options are smaller cells, which increase overall cost.
With many IIoT network being s a hybrid of fixed and mobile assets with wired and wireless communications, networking protocols must continue to evolve to address what is now dynamic networking.
In summary, IIoT is here to stay, and will continue to grow as organizations discover new and varied industrial applications for its use. At a minimum, the basic needs for successful IIoT deployment include:
- Multi-layer security
- Dynamic spectrum management
- Fixed point and ad hoc networking
Adoption and integration of the needs into SCADA, M2M and IIoT networks will keep networks healthy, cooperative, and ready for continued expansion.