Although embedded devices destined for industrial applications have a wide range of design requirements due to the diverse environments in which they are deployed, almost all systems need some form of wired or wireless communications capabilities. Stand-alone industrial embedded devices are relatively rare, as users now demand remote access for data collection, management, maintenance, troubleshooting, software updates, and system security. For example, businesses need to monitor and collect real-time operational or throughput statistics from individual devices to evaluate the performance of manufacturing systems and methods.
Complex embedded systems can automatically run maintenance and diagnostic routines to evaluate reductions in performance and remotely schedule hardware updates. Many remote systems also require some type of security or surveillance features to detect and possibly prevent physical or virtual attacks. The challenge for embedded designers is to find the right communications technologythat delivers reliable, high-performance connectivity in an industrial environment with possible noise, extended temperatures, shock/vibration, and interference.