The future may not yet be here with innovations like Elon Musk’s Hyperloop. But when it comes to Industry 4.0 solutions for manufacturing and heavy industry corporations, the future is now.
But how do you actually bring an Industrial Internet of Things solution to life in your business? You need tools—and one of the leaders on the market is a tool called Particle.
(Side note: Industry 4.0 and Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) refer to the same type of technology—connecting devices to gather more data and give your business more control. From this point forward, we’ll use the term IIoT to describe Internet of Things solutions for industrial settings.)
Particle’s website boldly claims that three out of four IoT projects never ship, and that Particle can make your company the fourth project.
That’s nice marketing speak, but Particle can’t guarantee your project’s success. It is, however, a powerful tool that can contribute to success of a well planned project. In fact, we’ve recently deployed Particle in a successful trucking industry IIoT project.
So to help you be informed the next time someone in your company asks, “What do we need to do to build an IoT project?”, here are some key questions and answers about the power of Particle.io.
What is Particle.io?
Particle offers an array of IoT essentials—hardware, connectivity, and the platform used to run the connected devices. (They call this platform the Device Cloud.)
The great thing is, you can use any part of these Particle offerings. So if you already have devices sending data, but you need a platform, Particle is a fit. Or if you have a database but need to add some connected device to it, you can use Particle hardware and/or connectivity to provide the new data. This flexibility is one of Particle’s best features, because it allows you to maximize any investments you have already made.
What can you add on to Particle?
While Particle boasts that it is an all-in-one IoT solution so that you “don’t waste your time integrating,” the truth is that it offers solutions that can feed existing databases or integrate with other web and mobile apps. So while using Particle across the board may provide the easiest solution, it’s not the only way to use the system. And that begs a question:
Should you add onto Particle?
The answer is that it depends. Using Particle for hardware, connectivity, and platform makes it easier for a software innovation team to build an IoT solution. It also provides a unified approach to security, which may be a huge deal depending on what you’re monitoring or controlling.
But if you’re adding on to a system that has some existing IIoT hardware or platform aspects, it may make more sense for your company to use Particle as part of the solution instead of a complete replacement. Likewise, by shopping around you may find cheaper hardware or connection options than what Particle provides.
So it’s important to know what kind of IIoT solution you need, so you can weigh the costs and benefits of a full-fledged Particle implementation.
How does Particle make IIoT easier?
An IIoT project provides unique challenges:
* You need to build a sensor or controller
* You need that sensor or controller to connect with a network so that it can transmit data or receive instructions
* You need to manage your connected devices via software
* You need to integrate the data the devices are collecting with your existing data
And those are just the high-level challenges. You’ll run into many particular challenges to get your IIoT project live and working.
The advantage of a solution like Particle—especially when it’s used end-to-end—is that you get the advantage of solutions to the most common IIoT problems. Instead of starting from scratch, you gain the benefits of thousands of IIoT deployments. This smooths the process of an IIoT, whether you’re a veteran team of innovators or a new startup using connected devices for the first time.
What does Particle cost?
When you consider an IIoT solution, you need to consider a few kinds of costs:
* Hardware (the actual connected devices or sensors)
* Connectivity (the cost of data rates to send data, if you’re using a cellular connection as part of your solution)
* Software License Fees (to use Particle or another platform)
* Software Development (to create the necessary customizations or integrations to make everything work)
You can find Particle’s hardware offerings and costs here, and a simple Google search will let you compare their offerings versus others. Particle offers bundles with hardware to include initial connections and platform use. Particle also describes its other pricing options for platform use, support, and even software development.
Of course, other vendors provide many of these services as well—which means you need to do some research before picking a solution.
The best way to get a clear view of pricing is to understand the needs and requirements of your system first. Then you can accurately compare Particle’s offerings against other options.
Particle isn’t the only IIoT solution, and it may not be the best solution for your particular situation. But it is quite a powerful solution, and it’s one that should be part of your discussion as you consider an IIoT project. These key questions will help you add to the conversation (and may make you look IIoT-smart in the process.)