How to Decide if Open or Proprietary IIoT Solutions Are Right for You

How to Decide if Open or Proprietary IIoT Solutions Are Right for You
How to Decide if Open or Proprietary IIoT Solutions Are Right for You

The emergence of the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) has changed the way the Operational Technology (OT) world uses data tremendously. In the past, data was simply collected for monitoring purposes to ensure production goes according to schedule. Now, data can go beyond a mere stream of information. Through analysis, data not only can help optimize products and services, but can also significantly improve operational efficiency, increase profits and create new business models that previously were not possible. The vast business opportunities presented by data have made the IIoT a key technology for the future success of nearly all businesses.
The benefits presented by this shift have triggered a demand for machines that cater to data acquisition and analysis, anywhere and everywhere possible. Previously, companies valued only production data, which monitors the productivity of machines or assets to ensure smooth operations. Nowadays, along with production data, machine condition data is just as crucial. Enterprises depend heavily on the predictive analysis of real-time operational data to prevent potential failures in order to reduce maintenance cost and the risk of other possible damages. Furthermore, industrial equipment manufacturers can use the historical data of machines to provide customers with more accurate and faster maintenance services to reduce personnel costs. Lastly, this data can be used to optimize a machine’s operation based on environmental and business objectives that require dynamic updates and changes as opposed to the historical “set-and-forget-it” mentality.
Despite the considerable benefits of big data, the advancement of the IIoT in the industrial space is still slow. The hindering factors are multiple: the variety of edge protocols, non-standardized data, connectivity to the cloud, cybersecurity, the management of large-scale systems, to name a few.

The two most common IIoT connectivity solutions

In the early days of the IIoT (as recent as two or three years ago), industrial equipment manufacturers’ answer to this complex and challenging problem was to provide a turnkey IIoT solution. The customer only needed to pay for this service or feature, and the equipment vendor would take care of the rest. As time went on, customers quickly found themselves stuck with multiple IIoT solutions from different vendors on different platforms, with little to no interoperability. What’s more, they were missing the big picture that all of their collected information supposedly was to reveal. Everything was in silos from different vendors.

As customers came to grips with this challenge, market demand called for open architectures that offered customers the option to take charge of and maintain their own IIoT strategy, allowing them to talk to any device in any location. However, the issue remains complex with regard to the investment and capabilities required to pull this off at scale. Most customers, even those with will well-intended and well-funded solutions, face tremendous challenges building such a type of solution.
Let’s take a closer look at the two common connectivity methods: proprietary IIoT connectivity solutions that offer an easy and managed approach but with constraints on flexibility, openness, and data ownership, and open IIoT connectivity solutions that focus on the cross-systematic integration of any device and the end customer’s ownership of the solution.

Proprietary IIoT connectivity solutions: Easy, hassle-free solutions

A number of industrial equipment manufacturers saw the value that came with data analytics, and began to provide customers with their own IIoT connectivity solution. To leverage the wealth of data, IIoT gateways are installed in front of or embedded in the “thing”, and data regarding the status of the “thing” will be transmitted from the machine to the machine vendor’s cloud. This user-friendly turnkey solution allows customers to quickly capture, manage, visualize and analyze the data collected from these devices on a cloud-based platform. This system is fairly intuitive for users as they only need to log into the machine vendor’s cloud to access their data. It further reduces a customer’s workload by placing the burden of developing and deploying the system solely on the industrial equipment manufacturer, effectively lowering the overall IT cost for the customer.

About The Author

Ethan Chen is a product manager at Moxa.

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