The IIoT is an ever-evolving arena, offering infinite opportunity for design engineers developing solutions

for manufacturers. Keeping up with the evolution of technology and processes is crucial, and working with industry partners that can assist in that will undoubtedly make a significant difference, as Richard Curtin, global vice president of technology, Electrocomponents, explains


he Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) is completely changing industry as

we know it. Increasingly being adopted by manufacturers, it is delivering huge benefits for them. IIoT solutions, for example, are giving manufacturers better connectivity and communication with equipment, facilitating the extraction of actionable insights which are invaluable in increasing efficiencies through smart maintenance and reduced downtime. This is crucial in today’s marketplace, so it is imperative for design engineers to think about the development of smart machines and equipment to meet the increasing demand. A key element in machines and equipment that are helping manufacturers avoid or be alerted to potential faults and failures are sensors. These are increasingly being used to monitor equipment and generate alerts for the user when machines require service or calibration – a key element in avoiding breakdowns, reducing maintenance downtime and cost. The latest sensors allow integration

with connected machines, and cloud computing platforms can provide data and determine the health of the machine, enabling the prediction of potential points of failure for breakdown. So, when it comes to the latest in IoT

solutions and applications, there’s a whole host of components design engineers should be considering.

SPECIFYING PRODUCTS FOR IOT APPLICATIONS The array of components that design engineers should consider before designing a product is vast. These range from technical: sensing parameters, micro controller or processor, IDE support tools such as Editor, Compiler, Debugger, Performance Analyser, and Middleware such as RTOS, Protocol Stack and GUI libraries. Connectivity is also a key consideration, whether through LoRaWAN, Sigfox, BLE, ZigBee, WiFi or LTE Cat profiles, as well as the server/cloud computing system.


design engineers the ability to accelerate and simplify the design process, and connect embedded systems and solutions to a cloud based server such as AWS or Microsoft Azure. Start-ups such as My Devices and The

Things Network are innovating in the IoT space. TTN offers users access to global IoT Data Networks, and My Devices offers a range of IoT in a Box solutions, focused at specific applications in multiple market segments such as Smart Homes and commercial refrigeration. SBC’s are converging into the IoT space and are often selected as gateways. The emergence of disruptive platforms such as Raspberry Pi B+, Beaglebone and Arduino are often selected to support prototyping and cost reduction. Once the prototype is achieved, design

Designers should also be thinking

about providing an intuitive display of data, considering a dashboard with the facility to provide alerts, warnings and analytics. Security is a huge issue in the world of IoT, so factoring in what device, protocols and cloud should be used to mitigate security breaches will also be vital. Ensuring optimum functionality in the design is one consideration, but other important factors that should not be overlooked include competitive costing, scalability and interoperability of the design. There must be the facility to add and delete sensors, execute customisation, and change or upgrade hardware and software. Design engineers need to understand

what sensors, electronic components and development kits are available in the market, carefully reviewing different brands and price points depending on the application, design and performance requirements. It’s important to understand how data will be sent to the cloud, and how it is stored and made available to the end user in a more meaningful and relevant way.

CONSIDERING THE RIGHT DEVICE AND PLATFORM New devices and device platforms are continually being launched in the IoT marketplace. Semiconductor OEMs such as Cypress

Semiconductor, Renesas and Microchip have developed IoT kits based on PSoC, Synergy and PIC devices – all offering

When it comes to the latest in IoT solutions and applications, there’s a whole host of components design engineers should be considering

engineers need to begin to consider the individual components like sensors, micro controllers/processors, interfaces, memory, wireless chips/SoC’s/SiP’s and gateways, to optimise the PCB and reduce the cost of the product, while customising it to meet application performance requirements.

UTILISING DISTRIBUTOR SUPPORT IN AN IIOT PROCESS Distributors can be of real benefit in helping design engineers navigate and evaluate the latest IoT solutions. They can provide access to a wide variety of products that go beyond hardware to enable design engineers to access software and cloud solutions, solution- focused content, case studies, rapid prototyping, and compliance support and services to support the specification and selection process. Distributors committed to keeping

up-to-date with the IIoT revolution continually invest in technology so they can offer reliable information in an easy and standardised way. Design engineers can use distributors to source competitively priced solutions, and access the right level of technical expertise to ensure the products being considered offer easy scalability and integration – so sensors can be added, deleted, customised or upgraded, as required. The capability for smart maintenance – remote connectivity for diagnostics, OTA (Over-The-Air) support, and repair and replacement – are important factors for design engineers to consider, and this is where distributors can be of real help.



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