The Belden Design Seminar is happening this week and a highlight of the first day was Jeff Lund’s session on “What’s Trending with the Industrial Internet of Things." Jeff’s background is strong in the area of embedded networking products and he brought this expertise forward with straight talk on what industrial engineers and technicians need to know about the IIoT.

For example, while the Internet of Things (IoT) is expected to lead to expenditures as high as $11 trillion per year by 2025, the IoT is not a new market but an enabling technology. It defines a different way to add value to existing markets, leading to increased revenues and innovative business models.

The Industrial IoT (IIoT) differs from the consumer IoT by focusing on connecting intelligent devices in the critical infrastructure, manufacturing and process industries to create business advantage. In the long run, to fully realize its benefits, challenges in the areas of deterministic behavior, cybersecurity and reliability will need to be overcome. But, even now, companies are using IIoT to improve their operations.

Let’s take a look at how four organizations are benefiting from IIoT investments today and gain a better understanding of what the IIoT journey looks like.

Jeff Lund delivered a dynamic talk

Jeff Lund delivered a dynamic talk on what’s trending with the IIoT yesterday at the 2015 Belden Industrial Ethernet Infrastructure Design Seminar.

The IIoT Defined

What is the IIoT? While there are many definitions and visions out there, I liked the simplicity of the two that Jeff brought forward as his favorites:

The “internet of things” is the rapidly growing network of everyday objects that have been equipped with sensors, small power supplies, and internet addresses.

  • Pax Technica: How the Internet of Things May Set Us Free or Lock Us Up

The Internet of Things is a world where physical objects are seamlessly integrated into the information network, and where the physical objects can become active participants in business processes.

Services are available to interact with these 'smart objects' over the Internet, query their state and any information associated with them, taking into account security and privacy issues.

  • Future Internet - FIS 2008: First Future Internet Symposium, Vienna, Austria

To narrow these definitions down for the “Industrial” in IIoT, visualize the physical objects as being the controllers, actuators and sensing devices in a plant or critical system such as a transportation network or oil pipeline.

The reason there is so much excitement around the IIoT is that it represents a major leap forward in our industrial capabilities. It may result in things like mass customization, manufacturing as a service, and other capabilities that we can’t even think of today. For a fuller description of its future vision, download the white paper available at the end of this article.

New call-to-actionYou're Already an IIoT Expert

If you’ve felt uncomfortable about your level of expertise with the IIoT there’s good news. You’ve been at the forefront of it all along. How can that be? Well, you’ve been connecting “things” to networks using Internet standard technologies for years.

The difference between what you’ve done to date and the change that’s happening with the IIoT is:

  • The size of the “things’ is decreasing, moving from machines today to the individual sensors and actuators within machines in the future
  • The number of connected things is increasing dramatically
  • The depth of integration between OT and IT will be much more extensive
  • Cybersecurity will become vitally important

Companies Are Already Implementing IIoT Solutions

Examples of how organizations are connecting intelligent devices to enhance functionality and improve operational efficiency exist today. Here are four from Belden customers:

Discrete Manufacturing

A pilot production line in the SmartFactoryKL technology initiative includes a Modular Infrastructure  Box incorporating Belden products.

The boxes connect production modules into smart factories, providing fast data communication, reliable power plus security and safety.

The solution incorporates Hirschmann RSP switches, EAGLE Multi-port Firewalls  and Belden cables and connectors.




A major power utility in the Western United States connects legacy substations to the smart grid using GarrettCom routers.

The routers perform two functions: they connect older RTUs to a central energy management system and their firewall functionality provides security.

The benefits are access to real-time data, automated remote monitoring and extending the life of existing assets by integrating them into a modern substation communication network.


A U.S. based midstream oil company monitors a remote pipeline using cellular connectivity solutions from Belden.

The cellular network collects data from PLCs along the pipeline and quickly pinpoints line pressure issues or locates leaks. The result is improved pipeline integrity and safety.




A major metro rapid transit system operator in Spain implemented a coach-to-trackside video monitoring infrastructure.

The benefits are improved operational and safety monitoring, with faster incident response time.

The system incorporates fixed infrastructure Hirschmann SPIDER switches and wireless controllers as well as onboard Hirschmann wireless clients.

Where Are You on the IIoT Journey?

One thing I realized from Jeff’s presentation is that the IIoT is not a destination, it’s a journey. It began with activities such as:

  • Connecting the industrial network to the enterprise network
  • Leveraging IT standard technologies such as TCP/IP networking, Ethernet, and Wi-Fi that are adapted for use in industrial environments
  • Updating your network from an ad hoc system to a well-designed industrial Ethernet infrastructure
  • Implementing wireless systems
  • Improving cybersecurity measures
  • Working more closely with IT to integrate plant data into business operations

It will continue as more and more intelligent devices are connected, OT/IT integration increases and cybersecurity becomes fundamental to industrial equipment and processes.

There will be great challenges, but the benefits in terms of reducing costs and increasing revenues will fuel the efforts.

Jeff’s session covered much more information, including where the IIoT is going and Belden’s strategy for it. I will cover these areas in future articles.

Where are you on the IIoT journey? What challenges are you facing? I look forward to hearing from you.

This article was written with expertise from Jeff Lund. Jeff is a senior director in product line management in Belden’s industrial IT group.

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