How Industrial Linux Enables Distributed IIoT Applications
May 20 2021
On the Edge of the Industrial Internet of Things
In recent years, growing investments in industrial markets have spurred rapid expansion in “Internet of Things” (IoT) application development. In fact, two-thirds of developers surveyed in a 2019 Eclipse Foundation study revealed that their organizations already develop and deploy IoT solutions or plan to do so within the next 18 months. Even though IoT developers work in many different focus areas, industrial automation remains one of the top three industries in 2019. More specifically, the global market for IoT gateways, which are placed between edge systems and the cloud, is expected to be worth as much as US$1.4 billion in 2021, and may even reach US$11.1 trillion by 2025.
The Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) promises to revolutionize global manufacturing by leveraging data from interconnected smart sensors, industrial equipment, and analysis tools to improve production processes. Although many IIoT applications adopt a centralized architecture where communication devices connect to a central node (for example, smart factories that connect all the PLCs, actuators, and other industrial equipment to a central SCADA system through communication gateways and industrial Ethernet switches), distributed IIoT applications are on the rise.
In a distributed IIoT application, sensors and equipment deployed across a wide area connect to one of many edge gateways located throughout the entire network. Each edge gateway acts as a data concentrator, protocol converter, and data preprocessing device for all the sensors and equipment that connect to it. The edge gateway then transmits all of the preprocessed information from the edge system (comprised of the gateway and connected sensors and equipment) to a public or private cloud for big data analysis. Typical distributed IIoT applications include smart cities (such as smart meters and street lighting management), renewable energy (such as solar or wind farm monitoring), and oil and gas.