10+ Criteria to Select the Best Industrial IoT Solution
The ultimate guide on how to choose the right industrial IoT platform
In this article, we discuss all aspects you need to take into account when selecting an industrial IoT platform and provide insight into the complexity of the IoT platform landscape. We also provide a list of criteria for selecting your own IoT platform. Finally, we explain how IXON Cloud distinguishes itself from other Industrial IoT solutions.
Choosing the right IIoT platform is complex
The industrial IoT platform market has become crowded, with many vendors offering similar capabilities and functionalities. With this high volume of platforms to consider, you need to identify your needs and sort which solution fits your goals. Whether you’re an experienced developer or senior executive, the landscape is massive and confusing.
What is an Industrial IoT platform?
Industrial IoT (IIoT) platforms provide you with the connectivity options, tools, dashboards, analytics and interoperability to create a single view of your operation. Ideally, a platform offers hardware as well, so it can guarantee an optimal workflow between the shop floor and the platform. To do so, the hardware has to support a wide range of manufacturing/industrial equipment and protocols, so the machines, HMI's, sensors and IP cameras can be easily and securely accessed, and monitored remotely. Data is gathered (data logging) and transformed into dashboards and insights, so you can make optimal business decisions and take proactive action.
Example applications of Industrial IoT solutions:
Prime use cases of IIoT platforms in manufacturing are production monitoring and inventory management. In oil and gas, the use cases are supply chain optimization and worker safety. And many IIoT use cases relate to core overall operational efficiency (OEE), equipment monitoring and predictive maintenance because “any downtime is extremely costly
What industry analysts expect from Industrial IoT platforms
According to industry analysts, an IIoT platform should provide:
- Device management that connects sensors, industrial machines (PLC, HMI, Robots) and digital systems. IIoT solutions are designed to identify failures and facilitate recovery from failure with easily accessible web-based tools.
- Data management to control and monitor the condition, storage, flow and production rates.
- Analytics of data from connected devices to reveal patterns and optimisation of assets for optimising processes or building better machines.
- Ensure compliance and security, including measures to prevent data loss and to detect and act on breaches.
- Support for industrial protocols such as Modbus and OPC (Open Platform Communications) Unified Architecture.
- Engineering-level robustness to prevent downtime.
- Allow a range of users to access job-specific applications in a user-friendly environment, a no-code interface for example.
- A combination of cloud, on-premises deployment and edge computing.
- Integration through development tools and APIs to support business processes and enterprise systems across the business. ERP, application performance management, enterprise asset management, BI-tools and more.
10+ selection criteria to choose the right Industrial IoT platform
These important evaluation criteria are often overlooked in the qualification process.
- Connectivity methods
What type of connectivity do you need to connect your equipment to the internet? Do you need a cabled, Wi-Fi or cellular solution? How well does the connectivity options fit the requirements of you / your customers current and future initiatives?
- Scalability & flexibility
How can I scale with the number of devices, services or users if my requirements change in the future? Are there limitations in the use of bandwidth or data storage?
- Supported industrial protocols
Which messaging and industrial protocols can be used to access data from or connect to the equipment? Does the platform support newer protocols (e.g. OPC)?
- Type of IoT platform
What type of IIoT platform does the vendor offer? Some offerings are merely used for device management, connectivity, analytics or data storage, while others are end-to-end solutions that offer an all-in-one solution with hardware, connectivity, software, dashboarding and external integrations. What are your needs and how will your needs change over time? Is it possible to migrate your data away from it or import data from third party sources?
- Geographic coverage and performance
Does the IoT platform cover all relevant geographical regions? What about the latency and performance in those regions? Are hardware and network options globally supported?
- Pricing models
Does the vendor offer a transparent pricing model and fair data plan? How can you upscale or downscale services with ease? You’ll definitely want the ability to pause or suspend your services and get insights in how much data is used.
- Security and privacy
How is your equipment, business network and data protected? What about redundancy and disaster recovery, GDPR and user data protection? And to be able to sleep well at night, it’s also important to investigate how a platform monitors and deals with security issues. Are these shared proactively, or do you have to find out by chance?
- Integrations & API access
What about the openness of the IIoT platform? Are you limited to their IoT platform or can you integrate with other cloud applications or back-end (e.g. for escalation, planning or BI-tools)? If you’re planning to build a custom app: can you integrate functionality into your platform, so your engineering team can get up to speed with their project?
- Data management & analysis
How can you acquire data and what do you plan to do with this data? What options does the platform offer to do calculations, make analysis or visualise the data? How can you turn the data into actionable value?
- Industry experts
IoT environments are complex and you need a partner you can rely on. Does the vendor help you service your needs? How easy can you get in touch with a specialist or access to support?
- Industry 4.0 transformation
Does the IoT platform’s roadmap match your organisation’s needs? Does it offer grow models in the Industrial IoT maturity model? Do they plan to expand their services and how does that help you?
- Hardware & edge Intelligence
Does the vendor offer any off-the-shelf software application or starter packages for the specific use case? What edge intelligence is available in the hardware and how can you advance from using it? What are the options to do some customisation?
- User management
How can you invite, manage and control users? Can you set restrictions and grant secure access? What about roles and different needs for the service engineer, manager or operator? Does it have restrictions for remote access? For example, how many people can connect to the same machine simultaneously? Do they offer mobile access? What about pricing? A lot of useful information can be gathered if you look for upgrades. What is the least expensive package, what extras do upgrades offer?
- OTA Firmware updates
How does the vendor allow you to send software updates? Can you fix bugs on your devices remotely? How often are new firmware updates released? Is it a simple or a complex process?
- Device management
How does the vendor allow you to manage devices that are out in the field? Can you create segments? How do you get access to devices in the network behind the connected devices?
- Market lifetime
How long has the IoT platform been in business? Finding an IoT platform that has been offering services for 4+ years is usually ideal. You can also take a look at case studies on how the platform is used by their customers.
Can I use white labelling services? Does the platform include a customisable web interface and custom-branded mobile apps? How extensible and customisable is the platform?
To help you with your decision-making, you can download the simple checklist handout with all the topics you should pay attention to when selecting the best Industrial IoT platform for you.
How IXON Cloud differentiates from other Industrial IoT solutions
IXON Cloud is an end-to-end Industrial IoT Platform which focuses on machine builders, system integrators and their customers. The solution is equipped with many easy-to-use features to aid in improving your service, innovating faster and building smarter machines.
What is an end-to-end IoT platform?
“Fundamentally, end-to-end IoT platforms provide the hardware, software, connectivity, security, and device management tools to handle millions of concurrent device connections. It also provides all the managed integrations you need – OTA firmware updates, device management, cloud connection, cellular modem/router, etc – to connect and monitor a fleet of devices online.”
IXON’s Industrial IoT platform combines hardware and an open SaaS environment with features for secure remote access, device management, data access, analytics/dashboards, user control, an API and options to fully white-label it to your brand. It’s built to deliver high-end services for you and your customers. Our solution is compatible with all IP-enabled equipment (and brands) used in industrial machines like PLC’s, HMI’s, operator panels, IP-camera’s, sensors and robots.
An in-house R&D team is focused on the confidentiality, integrity & availability of your data and uptime of the services. They develop new features, prevent security issues, improve the performance and make sure you get the lowest latency from around the globe.
Leave your details below and one of our IIoT specialists will get in touch with you to answer any questions or discuss IXON’s IIoT offering.