Establishing a reliable data infrastructure for IoT is fast becoming a major topic for companies in virtually all industries. But harsh and diverse industrial environments are notorious for resisting the attempts of IT departments and cloud developers to get good data out of industrial assets in the OT realm (OT=operational technology). The industrial edge simply does not scale nearly as well as the clouds of the so-called hyperscalers Azure, AWS and Google. Or does it?
A key element in making the industrial edge scale is the Industrial IoT gateway or edge computer. Picking the right gateway seems to be the hardest choice, as it impacts what data can and can’t be made accessible for downstream applications for years to come.
What is the right IIoT gateway?
A Raspberry Pi is a cost-effective choice to begin with. But in a rough industrial environment a single voltage surge can burn the interfaces or high and low temperature can stop or break the device altogether. And can you find out the MTBF* of a Raspberry Pi? And how much vibration for how many years is acceptable for the SD card inside? Quick and reliable support for the Linux OS? A Raspberry Pi is great for the lab and a proof of concept, but its uncertain long-term reliability in industrial environments makes it a risky choice, no matter what housing is built around it.
The UC-2100 is Moxa’s smallest ARM-based computer product line with Moxa Industrial Linux, supported for 10 years
The smallest UC-2101 is not much more expensive than a Raspberry Pi with a solid housing and due to its Debian-based Linux OS, applications developed for Raspberry Pi can typically be moved to the UC with little to no effort: see Moving your application from Raspberry Pi to Moxa UC computers.
Picking an industrial PC on the other hand can turn a promising IoT pilot project into a commercial nightmare, in particular when Intel x86-based Industrial PCs are only used in order to provide sufficient compute capacity for potential future demands.
Alternative to expensive x86 IPC: UC-8200, ready to run Azure IoT Edge
Moxa’s approach has always been not to force customers to make those choices up front, but rather allow them to add more powerful (and expensive) devices, only when needed – the IIoT application always runs on a super-reliable Debian-based Linux platform that Moxa maintains, including the security patches for years to come. Moxa has been making both a broad range of ARM-based gateways and a suite of x86-based embedded computers for more demanding applications since the early 2000’s.
And once truly demanding applications like Machine Learning / Computer Vision are deployed, the MC-1100 (Intel Atom) and MC-1200 (Intel Core i) product lines can be added, as required.
MC-1200 is Moxa’s strongest DIN-rail-mountable edge computer product line
Moxa has also been in the industrial space (and only in the industrial space) for long enough to know that customers value longevity of supply and longevity of support. The Debian-based Moxa Industrial Linux provides a super long-term support lifecycle of 10 years: Moxa Industrial Linux. And customers can buy and use gateways around the world, including but not limited to China, Japan, Russia, the Middle East, the Americas and Europe. Even in explosion-protected environments. And many customers have done this for 10 years and more with a very low RMA rate.
So if your current supplier does not provide MTBF numbers, offers products that store the operating system on an SD card or has recently end-of-lifed your favorite x86-based IoT Edge Gateway without a form-fit-function compatible alternative, why not check out the scalable IIoT gateway and edge computing portfolio here: Moxa Industrial Computing. We have been maintaining our product lines for decades and will continue to carefully upgrade them with a solid migration path for existing customers. That’s what we mean by:
The peace of mind when running IIoT infrastructure on reliable industrial hardware.
Head of IIoT