Why WiFi isn't the best choice for the Industrial Sensor IOT

The “Internet of Things” (IOT) has been a hot topic for years. Connecting “things” is something everyone seems to be doing. Even in 2014, I was at forefront of getting a “Thing” on the internet!

https://hackaday.com/2014/04/16/building-the-internet-of-thing-at-ftf2014/

“Thank you, Thing.”

“Thank you, Thing.”

When discussing our TZEROBrew service, we are often asked if it is Wi-Fi enabled. The short answer is, “No.” For many products, Wi-Fi is an awful choice, and ends up eating away at the value proposition of the product. This may seem contrary to popular opinion, but when you focus on customer value, it is easy to understand why. The goal is to deliver continuous value, and get in the brewery without interrupting a brewer’s daily workflow. We are here to help people focus on their craft. If the solution is not easy to install, it is not providing value.

Sure, for delivering Instagram and YouTube, Wi-Fi is a useful data pipe. For an industrial grade service offering, Wi-Fi does not always provide the most value to the customer. At TZERO, there have been two general scenarios that we have encountered when getting sensor data into the Cloud:

1.) You walk into a customer location and there is a consumer-grade router and switch in a back room. Great. You’re given the Wi-Fi password and the default SSID. How is that for security? Are you willing to let your service quality be controlled by a consumer-grade router in a closet? Even the best intentions yield spotty service.

2.) A larger organization will almost certainly have IT staff and some form of digital security policy. In this scenario, you will not be able to connect to their network (wired or wireless) without some level of audit. It will not be simple. This can potentially take weeks of red tape and approval. How much does a network engineer cost for hours of their time? Both the customer and solution provider incur a non-trivial deployment cost.

Both #1 and #2 are solvable problems, but why should the customer have to incur additional provisioning expense when adding the product to their value stream?

The TZEROBrew solution bypasses the connectivity conundrum completely. We combine a cellular connected gateway with a robust wireless mesh network with multiple layers of encryption and security to deliver data that “works out of the box”.

Why cellular? Because we can send a solution that is ready at unboxing that does not have to touch the customer’s network. The global cellular network has tens of billions of dollars of investment allowing access to the most advanced wireless network the human race has ever built. With cellular, a customer can get connectivity out of the box without incurring the expense of a network engineer! We can even isolate the network traffic, so the IOT solution is never visible to the public internet. Data is available and secure. When you need reliability, easy installation, and instant customer value, cellular is a great option.

A cellular powered service removes barriers to entry and provides a brewer with a new view into their fermentation process. The TZEROBrew solution combines advanced sensing and cloud connectivity to provide brewers with real time data, allowing them to focus on their craft… and get their weekends back!

Stephen Wells