INTRODUCING INDUSTRIAL INTERNET OF THINGS
IoT is changing the way the companies operate from day to day thereby transforming the industries. When the big industrial data analysis is combined with machine to machine communication, great levels of efficiency, productivity and performance are achieved.Initially focusing on improving operational efficiency and automation, the Industrial Internet of Things has a great role to play in intelligence manufacturing and smart industry, asset performance management, industrial control thereby creating a demand service model, revenue model, better ways to serve customers and digital transformation.
Predictive maintenance is an integral part of IIoT, as there can be machineries that could be unsafe for the staff to work on. With IoT, any defects in those machines can be detected before they could harm any worker or stop working due to some small technical snag which could be resolved if known earlier. The potential of predicting the threat before and maintaining the machineries before something serious occurs is known as predictive maintenance.
IOT: INCREASING THE BRAND VALUE
Today, companies that implement industrial IoT offer increased value to their customers and witness cost-effectiveness in operations. Also, an IIoT enabled unit where the parts of production lines are aware of each other’s activities in real-time become easier to control and run.
Benefits of IoT
IIoT solutions are undoubtedly beneficial for industries in this growing and competitive environment. Some of the benefits of IIoT for businesses are:
- The machineries used for business operational purposes
What do you Need To Know About PCB Design & Manufacturing ?
Going from prototyping on development boards to designing Printed Circuit Boards (PCB), there is a lot to know about this process, so let’s see through.
Once your design is complete, there are still a lot of factors that you must know before going into production. Assuming you are done with your design and looking to get into manufacturing of your PCB, you are happy with the proposed outcome and looking to manufacture your PCB.
If your number of quantities is more, consider Surface mount technology as the components can be soldered by machine. Also, order your components in reels for SMT machine automatic pick-up, not in separate packages. Always order 5-10% extra for scope of mistakes. Decide on the surface finish you’d like (ENIG (Electroless Nickel/Immersion Gold), DIG (Direct Immersion Gold), OSP (Organic Solderability Preservatives…etc.). Your manufacturer might ask you for the thickness of PCB. You are free to choose, but note that thinner PCBs are expensive, also the thickness of the PCBs are dependent on the application for which the PCBs are manufactured.
Through-hole soldering is only beneficial when the number of PCBs is limited and the product is in the prototyping stage as it is cheaper (in terms of labour) than SMT.
Before outsourcing the manufacturing for your product’s PCB, there are points which should be asked from the manufacturer when going for bulk production or for alpha-testing.
- What minimum order quantity does the company entertain?
- What minimum clearance can they keep in multilayer Layer PCBs?
- Do they provide Double Sided Placement?
- Are these following component types can be assembled at their end ?
BGA Fine Pitch Parts (QFN, QFP),Small Chip Packages(0201,0402),As many assembly facilities can’t provide assembly service for such components.
- Do they provide Circular and Odd board Shapes?
- What timeline do they need for manufacturing and assembly of PCBs?
- What minimum drill size (for vias) is possible at their end? Do they also make blind or buried vias?
- How will they procure the components?
These are few of the most important points to be considered.
Moreover, you can get your PCB tested by an external agency. There are many companies doing this, see which one fits the need. In-circuit test is one such test which checks shorts, opens, resistance, capacitance, etc and makes sure they are well under their tolerances, assuring the quality of the components used. This helps in lowering the rejection while in the production Phase.
What are embedded hardware design challenges in IoT product development?
Embedded design is an integral part of any IoT system. It has to be error free. Also, it can’t be altered once a device is commissioned. Therefore, making sure that the design is as good as on paper is of utmost importance. However, there are some challenges an embedded engineer might encounter while designing IoT systems.
- Choice of MCU: This seems obvious but is a very important factor to be considered. A common mistake is ordering a development board and starting developing and later realizing that a more powerful MCU is required or the support for the MCU is going to be obsolete. Before choosing a MCU or MPU , a proper research has to be done on the future aspects of the device.
- Choice of wireless technology: One should be clear at the ideation stage itself if the IoT solution needs WiFi,GSM ,BLE ,Zigbee,Sub-1 GHz, NFC , RFID for connectivity. If you get it wrong, it would be almost impossible to change it later, as the architecture of the solution is designed with respect to network and communication protocols, keeping in mind the application for the solution is built.
- Power optimization: Imagine the amount of power consumed by a 1000 node IoT system powered 24 hours. It is huge. As a solution, most of the nodes are in sleep mode and consume very less power.The nodes only wake up to push or receive the data. The developer has to make sure a power saving strategy is implemented.
- Security: Embedded systems security is one of the most pressing issues regarding any IoT system. Most of the encryption algorithms are resource intensive and difficult to implement on a low powered MCU. Every solution needs to be built keeping in mind the possible security breaches.
- Parallel computing: Architecture of a micro-controller says that it has to loop continuously a part of code to get a time series data. All the computation happens in series. However, most of the IoT systems require parallel processing. Parallel computing is one of the downsides of microcontrollers. Although there are ways to do these things, which requires expertise in the field.
- Plug and Play: While creating an IoT solution, one needs to foresee what problems an end user can face while installing the product. Also he/she should be able to install and reinstall the product easily, with least support from the company.
There are various other challenges which come with experience, however, keep in mind the aforementioned factors
What is Embedded Firmware development?
Embedded firmware development is basically writing the code which runs on Embedded hardware. It is not something you do on a full-fledged PC, but say on a micro-controller or a microprocessor. Think of it like the firmware inside your washing machine, or a microwave or a refrigerator. It does not seem like a software, but something is in there that controls the sensors, peripherals, motors, timers etc.
Making these things talk is the crux of embedded firmware development. It is very crucial because, unlike software, you cannot change it or update it again and again. It has to work perfectly for years.Firmware term literally means something which is firm and can’t be changed easily, unlike ‘software.
Embedded firmware developers work closely with embedded hardware engineers . Embedded hardware engineer designs the hardware (circuits and stuff) and the firmware engineer writes the code to make it work. Embedded firmware developers are also responsible for driver development of hardware peripherals.
Embedded firmware is used to control the functions of various hardware devices and systems much as a computer’s operating system controls the function of software applications. Embedded firmware can regulate hardware in devices as simple as a toaster and as complex as tracking systems in missiles.
What is an embedded software engineer?
An embedded software engineer is technically an embedded firmware engineer who deals with programming various microcontrollers and microprocessors.
Job profile for an embedded software engineer varies from company to company, but some general skills are expected from an embedded software engineer.
- Able to design and implement firmware of embedded devices and systems from requirements to production and to deployment level.
- Design, develop, code, test and debug system software.
- Since embedded hardware is low on resources like memory, limited specific functions to pin outs, he/she should be able to optimise the code to enhance efficiency, stability and scalability of system resources.
- Integrate and validate new product designs.
- Interface with hardware design and development.
- Excellent programming skill and experience in C/C++.
- Experience in hands-on development and troubleshooting on embedded targets
- Adequate knowledge of reading schematics and data sheets for components.
- Strong documentation and writing skills.
- Should have sound knowledge of protocols like UART, SPI ,I2C, CAN etc.
- Should possess knowledge of wireless network protocols for M2M communication such as LORAWAN, Zigbee,Sub-1 GHz etc.
Hope you get a brief idea of the job profile. It is a very rewarding career opportunity if one performs well.
What is PCB designing ?
PCB stands for Printed Circuit Board. The green colour board you see with lots of components soldered is a PCB.Printed circuit board design brings electronic circuits to life.Using layout software, the PCB design process combines component placement and routing to define electrical connectivity on a manufactured circuit board.
What you see here is fabricated PCBs in a panel. Note that there are no soldered components and they are to be soldered manually or by machine.
PCB design can be single layer, dual layer or multilayer. Multilayer designs have several layers of circuits tucked beneath the top layer, where we use vias to connect different layers with each other. It helps to design a larger circuit in a smaller form factor.
PCBs have pads where the components are soldered . The tracks on the PCB enable signals and power to be routed between physical devices. These components are soldered to both electrically connect and mechanically fasten them to the PCB.
PCB design is done in a software. There are various of them, many are paid like Altium, Eagle etc. while some of them are free like KiCAD and EasyEDA. For PCB design, there is a fixed design flow. Some softwares are capable of handling complete design flow while others are used to accomplish a specific
- Creating symbols for components that might not be included in the default library.
- Schematic capture is defining how the pins are going to be connected in the circuit.
- Footprints are the orientation and shape of components in the actual pcb. We have to create footprints for components which are not already available in the software.
- The netlist contains the electrical connections between the components on the circuit board, and is usually held in textual format. It is useful for design verification
- Board layout is defining how your components are going to be arranged on the pcb.
- Gerber files are something that you are going to give to your PCB manufacturer.
What is the difference between firmware and embedded systems?
Firmware is a sub domain of embedded systems. Broadly speaking, Embedded system development is basically divided into two domains: embedded hardware development and embedded firmware development.
Firmware is something that is baked into a hardware board consisting of a micro-controller or microprocessor . Firmware is difficult to change once a product has been deployed.
Embedded system is a combination of computer hardware system involving peripherals, sensors, firmware, memory devices etc. Firmware is just the piece of code running in an embedded system that coordinates with all the peripherals, processing and memory together.
With the increasing advent of IoT devices, even firmware can be updated over the air and the margin between software and firmware is diminishing. The main doubt regarding firmware and embedded is
(specially IT), the embedded system engineer is the one who writes firmware, but that’s not the only thing he is capable of. At many places, there is a complete distinction between embedded hardware engineer and embedded firmware engineer.
Nonetheless, embedded systems are the complete technology stack compared to firmware that is just a language with which the processor speaks.
What is the Impact of IoT on the Future of Web App Design & Development?
IoT is leading towards a huge impact in every known sector. Web app design is not spared. Every IoT system, be it large or small, needs a dashboard to visualise the data inflow and control the connected devices.
Web apps (and for the same case, mobile apps) are generally preferred over proprietary softwares because of their versatile nature, making it easy to access with whatever device you find lying around.
If we talk about the design of web applications, the industry is slowly transitioning towards prioritising what’s important about the IoT network.
The major concerns for the designing Web-Applications are
- The most pressing issue would be security. IoT systems security is one such field where there is no space for compromises. The web designer has to incorporate encryption techniques and security protocols to make sure there is no breach on his side.
- Handle high volumes of data. Various sensor nodes generate huge amounts of time series data. The designer’s responsibility is to handle this data with least latency. Less latency would lead to slow control of connected devices and could incur losses.
- Rich UI design. Pretty dashboards and rich user experience are going to stay. The designer should be comfortable with charting, graphs and rich controls set. Here is a guide for building a successful IoT dashboard
- Support on mobile platforms, the design should be in such a way that the experience is smooth even on small screen devices using a web browser.
Almost every second, there are around 127 devices connected to the Internet. Former Cisco researcher David Evans explained the widespread proliferation of IoT, stating that anything could be connected, including clothing, tennis rackets, vehicles, homes and even diapers. Intelligent design should be the top most priority.
How do I design an Embedded System Hardware?
- Inception: Understanding, Gathering, and realizing the possibility.
- Design: Transformation of the idea into a circuit design.
- Review: Reviewing the circuit design and functionality at every point.
- Prototype: Building a Proof of Concept
- Testing and Validation: Testing the prototype and validating it with the customer.
- Manufacturing: Fabrication of the Printed Circuit Board and it’s Assembly.
- Maintenance: Product lifetime support
What are good softwares for PCB designing ?
In fact, there is a very good number of PCB design softwares out there. Some serve a specific purpose, while rest are general PCB design softwares. Most of them are paid, while few are open source.
- Circuit Studio
- Cadence OrCAD
- Mentor Pads PowerPCB
- Autodesk Eagle
- Circuit Wizard
Out of them, the most popular is Altium. It has a free version to try out as well. The most compelling fact with Altium is it’s user interface. It is one of the most user-friendly PCB design softwares.
Altium is the first preference of most of the professionals. Apart from Altium, Autodesk eagle is an equally good software.
If we talk about free softwares, KiCAD is something which is used for simple designs as well as enterprise grade designs. However, KiCAD is not the most user friendly software. EasyEDA is a great choice, especially for simple designs and it has a huge database of libraries of components.
What are SOS Tracking devices?
SOS devices are connected devices that come handy in emergencies. Ideally, a wearable like a necklace,a bracelet or some compact and trendy looking device which is compact and handy.
SOS devices usually have a panic button that, when triggered, is capable of sending your location along with other details to your pre-defined contacts. The device is always connected irrespective of mobile signal strength, and can be lifesaving in case of emergency.
SOS devices are available in all sorts of shape, sizes and utility. Companies incorporate various alerting features like sending your location to your contacts, police helpline and even a high pitch siren to alert people around. Some SoS devices also have sensors to auto detect the situation and trigger the panic button all by itself. The situation might include physical attack, fire, accident etc. SOS devices are available for every age group, but ideally they are useful for children, women and elderly.
Technically, SOS devices have a micro-controller along with GSM, LTE, LTE- M, NBIoT etc for connectivity. There are devices available which use your phone’s connectivity and are connected to your phone using Bluetooth. But such devices can fail as most mobile applications can kill themselves in the background.
Some Standalone devices have direct satellite connectivity or network tower connectivity so that it is not dependent on mobile application for it’s working, and is always connected. It also has a GPS chip embedded inside it which is the most important point of having an SOS device so that real time location can be fetched when needed . It might include a siren and a couple of sensors to detect accidents, fire, etc. It comes in various shapes and sizes, commonly in necklaces, smartwatches, bracelets and even rings.
The main challenge in SOS devices is to program it in such a way that it does not trigger when not important. This can lead to unnecessary hassle to a lot of stakeholders.