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03-11-2020
5 min. read
Shelly Boom

Comparison of Industrial IoT platforms for machine builders

We are in the middle of the Industry 4.0 era. Many machine builders have industrial digitisation on their to do list. What about you? By opting for an IIoT solution, you are already taking a step in the right direction. But which types of IIoT platforms can you choose from? What are they used for? And what are the differences?

An IIoT platform is a platform that brings together machines, robots, transport lines and other industrial devices such as PLCs and HMIs via the internet. It's a system that connects front-line industrial processes with back-end information systems. This gives you remote access to your equipment, gives you better insight into machine data and enables you to prevent future malfunctions.

IIoT solutions for different purposes

There are IIoT solutions for different purposes. An IIoT platform is used for forecasting and performing remote maintenance, condition monitoring and asset tracking. These IIoT applications are often found in industrial solutions in the food, agriculture and horticulture, packaging, energy and logistics sector.

The potential of these new possibilities appeals to machine builders. They use IIoT solutions to increase service and process efficiency and to strategically position themselves. Depending on your goal, you make an assessment which type of Internet of Things platform best suits your strategy.

Industrial IoT platform archetypes Industrial IoT platform archetypes

Five IIoT platform archetypes

Management consultancy Oliver Wyman distinguishes between five types of providers of IIoT platforms in a report on IIoT platforms. These are classified according to three levels: infrastructure, platform and applications. A distinction is made between five archetypes of IIoT platforms on the basis of these three levels.

1. Proprietary solution provider

A proprietary solution provider delivers an exclusive customised solution directly to each customer - or for their own internal production optimisation. The functionality depends on the customer's needs and is often developed for specific applications at smart factories. This requires in-depth knowledge of security, networking and software development.

2. App provider 

An app provider builds a specific app for an existing IIoT platform. You can compare this with the app store of Apple or Google. You buy an application, offered by one of the app developers, that comes together in one IIoT platform. From one you buy, for example, the dashboard function for external monitoring of your machines, from the other you buy the secure connection to your hardware.

3. Marketplace operator 

A marketplace operator sets up a marketplace on an existing IIoT platform and offers its own applications or from other app providers. Providers of these applications are thus in the right place to reach their target group and market their product. Users can find exactly what they are looking for, all in one place. Here too, you can create your own IIoT platform functions by using different applications. 

4. IoT enabler

An IoT enabler focuses on setting up its own infrastructure in combination with offering a platform, such as Microsoft Azure. Variations are also possible in which IIoT platform providers use another platform, provided with their own brand (white labeling) or providers that provide the infrastructure for integrations to other IIoT platforms. Within such a platform you have the freedom to implement your own IIoT applications.

5. IIoT platform specialist

An IIoT platform specialist creates his own IIoT platform and applications and then markets these applications. If you use this type of platform you’re not dependent on other suppliers, because everything is built around the platform. As a result, the platform fits in seamlessly with a specific need and associated applications.

For many machine builders, customisation is too expensive, it's not feasible to maintain an IIoT platform themselves or they lack the necessary expertise. The choice for an IIoT platform specialist can offer a solution in that case. However, there are several variants that all focus on a different aspect. We have described these below.

Types of IIoT platforms

IIoT platforms give you a framework to build on, instead of having to build from scratch. It makes the development of your own application faster, easier and much more practical. Choose a suitable platform that meets your primary needs. We’ll explain four types of Industrial IoT platforms. These each belong to the 'IIoT platform specialist' provider type.

Different type of Industrial IoT platforms Different type of Industrial IoT platforms

Connectivity platforms

A connectivity IoT platform provides users with the software, connectivity hardware and data needed to manage and track IoT devices and networks. These platforms, often used in smart logistics systems, ensure that connections are managed and monitored and offer a number of additional tools such as real-time connectivity status, reporting, troubleshooting and profiling.

Data IoT platforms

Data analysis platforms are a solution for data-driven IoT systems that make use of machine learning, artificial intelligence, statistical modeling and mass data collection. After importing or directly integrating data sources (e.g. PLC data and an ERP system), you can use these kinds of platforms to interpret the data and respond to it. This way you can arrive at new machine and process insights or even set up new revenue models.

Cloud platforms

An IoT cloud platform provides users with the infrastructure needed to create a coherent IoT system for, for example, a large industrial machine park. They are a central location for data storage to which you link backend processes. One of the biggest advantages of a cloud platform is its scalability; no matter how small you start, a cloud platform can grow with you.

End-to-end platforms

An end-to-end IoT platform (also known as an application platform) uses a one-size-fits-all approach that provides users with everything they need to get an IoT system off the ground. It provides the hardware, software, connectivity, security and tools for a fast implementation of an IoT system. This makes it a one-stop-shop that eliminates the need to manage developers, network configuration and hardware engineering yourself.

As you can see the market for IIoT platforms is very diverse. Do you find it difficult to choose which type of IIoT platform would suit you best? Take a look at our list of 10+ criteria to choose the best IIoT solution for your company.

Do you want to manage machines centrally? Do you think data analysis is important? And do you want a quick start? Discover the possibilities of IXON Cloud, a frequently used IoT solution by machine builders.

Discover IXON’s Industrial IoT platform!

IXON Cloud is an all-in-one solution for machine builders and system integrators (and its customers). IXON combines hardware with an open SaaS environment with extensive features to remotely service and maintain machines and collect data for applications with alarms and dashboards, for things like preventive maintenance, production monitoring dashboards or machine optimisation. 

Benefits:

  • Compatible with all IP-enabled equipment used in industrial machines such as PLCs, HMIs, control panels, IP cameras, sensors and robots;
  • Plug & Play installation without additional software;
  • Comprehensive user management and platform layout to meet specific needs;
  • Direct access to devices in the field anywhere;
  • Simple data logging – without a line of code;
  • Excellent security according to ISO 27001;
  • Scalable and can be integrated with external applications via API.

Would you like to experience the IXON Cloud for yourself? Have a look at our free product tour or plan a demo with one of our IIoT specialists!

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