Understanding IoT edge gateways and their benefits

IoT gateways play a key role within the Internet of Things (IoT) ecosystem – working as the bridge between IoT devices and the cloud. Get the right gateways in the right place and you achieve both seamless communication – and high levels of security. But IoT gateways often operate right at the edge, in challenging environments. In this article we outline what challenges industry faces when deploying IoT gateways and explain how Compulab’s IoT product line meets these needs.

What is an IoT edge gateway?

An IoT gateway is a physical device that connects industrial IoT devices, such as sensors and actuators, to the cloud or central data servers. You can see an IoT gateway as a bridge, facilitating communication and making sure data is transmitted securely and efficiently.
The gateway gathers data from multiple IoT devices, each of which may use any one of a variety of different communication protocols. It translates those different protocols into a common language that can be understood by the cloud and other systems you’re connecting to.

An IoT gateway can also filter out irrelevant data, reduce noise, and perform initial processing tasks to reduce the amount of data sent to the cloud, saving bandwidth and storage. Finally, gateways encrypt and securely transmit the processed data to the cloud or other designated destinations.

The challenge of IoT gateways in industrial settings

So far so good, and it does sound similar to the job of a network gateway in general. However, there are a couple of unique requirements for an IoT gateway, and much of it has to do with the unique environments of IoT devices.

As we’re seeing IoT being integrated into many industries and applications, this variety of settings presents different requirements that demand significant flexibility from the IoT gateways:

  • Device Interfaces – support a variety of interfaces ranging from RS485 and RS232 to digital I/O, Bluetooth and CAN bus.
  • Network Infrastructure – compatibility with existing network setups, including Ethernet, Wi-Fi and LTE.
  • Environmental Conditions – operating reliably in harsh conditions with wide temperature ranges and resistance to shock, vibration, dust, and humidity.
  • Application Software – support diverse software environments and providing robust software development tools.

It means that industrial users that depend on IoT should be mindful when choosing an IoT gateway, ensuring it has the right feature set to meet the unique requirements of the IoT environment at the edge.

How Compulab IoT edge gateways meet these requirements

Within industrial IoT, characteristics such as reliability, flexibility and longevity are often critical requirements. At Compulab we understand these unique challenges and we’ve designed our IoT gateway range to survive even the toughest IoT deployments. Here’s how Compulab gateways stand out:

Rich Set of Interfaces

Compulab gateways, such as the IOT-GATE-iMX8 and IOT-GATE-iMX8PLUS, provide extensive connectivity options, including dual Gigabit Ethernet, Wi-Fi, LTE/4G, and variety of interfaces – RS485, RS232, CAN bus, DIO and Bluetooth. This ensures compatibility with a wide range of industrial devices and systems.

This ability to connect to a wide mix of devices all using different protocols is particularly important when an IoT project is integrated into a legacy system – and when new IoT devices are added into a unified network.

Modularity and Configurability

Our gateways are highly modular, allowing users to customize the hardware configuration to meet specific project requirements. For example, IOT-DIN-IMX8PLUS can be expanded with stackable I/O modules, supporting up to 12 RS485 / RS232 ports or 64 digital I/O channels.

This flexibility makes it easy to adapt the gateway to different use cases and installations. Modularity is essential for scalability and futureproofing, enabling companies to expand their IoT infrastructure as needed without undergoing significant overhauls before expansion.

IOT-DIN-IMX8PLUS Industrial IoT Gateway

Industrial Grade Quality

Designed for reliability and 24/7 operation, Compulab edge gateways feature fanless designs, rugged housings and and wide operating temperature ranges (-40°C to 80°C). This robust specification is backed by a 5-year warranty.

Our gateways are built to withstand harsh industrial environments, ensuring long-term durability and performance. Industrial-grade quality is vital for maintaining continuous operations in environments where equipment failure can lead to significant downtime and financial loss.

Advanced Security

Compulab gateways include features such as secure boot, TPM (Trusted Platform Module), and hardware watchdogs to enhance security and reliability.
These features protect against cyber threats and ensure continuous operation, even in the event of hardware or software failures. High reliability is critical in industrial settings where data integrity and system uptime are paramount for operational efficiency and safety.

Long Term Availability

At Compulab, we guarantee long-term availability. Our devices are available for up to 15 years from launch, ensuring continuous supply for project expansion and maintenance.

This long-term availability is crucial for industrial applications that require stable and reliable hardware support over many years, reducing the risk of obsolescence and ensuring continuity.

Open Software Architecture

Compulab gateways support both Debian Linux and Yocto BSP. We also offer support for popular IoT frameworks such as Docker, Microsoft Azure IoT, and Node-RED, enabling easy integration and development of custom applications.
Our IoT edge gateways employ a fully open software architecture. It allows for greater flexibility in software development and integration, making it easier to implement and update IoT solutions.

Conclusion

IoT environments are often found right at the edge, and therefore have unique environmental and communication requirements that lie outside the specifications of standard networking equipment. Ability to handle diverse protocols, perform edge computing, and provide robust security are essential for successful IoT implementations. Compulab IoT gateways offer the right mix of capabilities to address these needs, making them an ideal choice for industrial IoT applications. To learn more, visit our IoT Gateway product line page.