How to Avoid Challenges in IIoT Implementation

IIoT connections are predicted to grow 2.36 billion more by 2026, according to studies by ABI Research. Currently, there are over 12 billion installed IIoT devices around the world that are collecting and transmitting data in factories and other industrial facilities.

The adoption of Industry 4.0 is empowering enterprises to securely leverage data and analytics for a range of applications, including predictive analysis,  remote asset monitoring, minimized machine downtime, and centralized storage. However, IIoT—the latest technological wave comes with its own set of challenges that both manufacturers and businesses must address in order to reap the benefits of smart manufacturing.

Here are some common challenges enterprises face in IIoT, and how to remedy them.

IoT is still rife with security issues

Prior to IoT adoption, operational security meant gates and fences, locks on doors, and cameras around the premises. Manufacturing networks relied on an air gap between the shop floor and the rest of the world.

It’s estimated that by next year, 25% of attacks on enterprises will leverage IoT in some form. According to Gartner, only 10% of security spending is focused on IoT. Sensors are popular launching points for bad actors, thanks to their lack of regular firmware updates and small-footprint operating systems. 

Businesses must address the following issues:

  • Most breaches are the result of human error. Prior to full implementation, all staff must go through security education and training.
  • Wireless networks must be isolated, and no device should be on multiple networks, except for firewalls. 
  • The firewall between the manufacturing floor and the rest of the organization needs to take a deny-by-default approach. Specific ports must be opened only as needed for data transmission.
  • Shop-floor security needs different security access than the rest of the facility. If shop-floor workers need access to the company LAN, that should require a separate login from any systems they access on the floor.
  • Set a budget for new security processes and tools, and an expert outsourcer to install and configure them. Anomaly detection systems are a good idea, but you also need a hard-nosed approach to device tracking and network admittance. 
  • Analyze risk exposure at every step of an IIoT implementation. Run penetration tests regularly to ensure that your network is properly audited. Penetration tests are audits for security. Run them regularly.

IIoT security is manageable–and must be planned and budgeted for at every stage of project development.

Slower network performance

Most networks available on the market today are not designed to face the challenges of a rapidly expanding IIoT. We are starting to see integration across multiply systems and video surveillance. Integrated networks with high bandwidth are required to combine multiple data sources and even control commands. 

To mitigate the process, utilizing technologies such as 4G and 5G are paramount, given their high data transfer rates. 

A number of other options are available to build a high-speed network capable of addressing IIoT needs. Network engineers are turning to a GB-level backbone for uninterrupted high performance. The IEEE 802.11n standard is another alternative, which offers up to 300 Mbps and MIMO for seamless video-over-wireless networks. 

In addition, multicast technology must be present in the core, edge, and access layers of a network to optimize operations. Network performance can be further improved by utilizing video systems that use the network more efficiently with intelligent video analysis that identifies and prioritizes video streams through motion and object detection or alert zones.

Limited experience and resources

ABI Research reports that over 50% of manufacturing professionals cited a lack of internal skills and experience as their main barrier in adopting new technologies. 

To overcome this obstacle, industrial firms have partnered with experienced IoT providers that can help build the IIoT strategy, create organizational alignment, and integrate critical security elements. A trusted advisor with demonstrated IIoT knowledge and experience can maximize ROI on your investment.

These challenges in IIoT might seem daunting. However, these problems all ultimately demonstrate the extent to which departments, entire enterprises, and manufacturers must work together to navigate this new trend in technology moving forward. In every case, there is a course of action available to industries; it’s simply up to them how they would like to proceed.

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