With how fast the IoT industry is growing, it’s paramount your business isn’t left behind.

IoT technology has brought a ton of benefits and makes systems more efficient and easier to manage. As a result, it’s no surprise that more businesses are adopting IoT solutions. On top of that, businesses starting new projects have the slight advantage of buying all new technology and, therefore, not having to deal with legacy systems. 

On the other hand, if you have an already operational legacy system and you want to implement IoT, you may think you have to buy entirely new technology to get it online, right? Not necessarily. After all, if your legacy systems are still functional and your staff is comfortable with them, why should you waste all of that time and money?

Legacy systems can still bend to your will and be used for adopting IoT. Sticking rather than twisting can help your business save money on your IoT project.

In this blog, we’ll go over the steps you would need to follow for integrating IoT technology into your legacy systems and the different options you have to get this done.

1. Analyze Your Current Systems

First things first, take a look at your current system and take note of their purpose, the way they work, the type of data that they collect, and the way they could benefit by communicating with each other.

This step is important because it will allow you to plan out IoT integration more efficiently. When analyzing your current systems make sure you focus on these key aspects:

  • Automation – See how automation is currently accomplished and what other aspects should be automated.
  • Efficiency – What aspects are routinely tedious or slow and could become more efficient?
  • Data – How it’s taken, stored, and processed, and how it could be used better
  • Money – Analyze how much some processes cost and keep them in mind to know what aspects could be done for cheaper with IoT
  • Computing – The way data is processed, whether it be cloud, edge, or hybrid.

Following these steps will help you know your project in and out and apply IoT in the areas that truly matter.

2. Plan for IoT Integration

In order to integrate IoT into your legacy systems, you must get everything in order. 

In order to successfully integrate IoT into your system, you will need to have strong planning, design, and implementation phases. Steps you will need to follow in order to achieve this can be

  • Decide what IoT hardware is going to be needed
  • Set a budget taking software, hardware, and maintenance into account
  • Decide on a communication protocol
  • Develop software tools for interacting with the system
  • Decide on a security strategy

This process can be daunting if you don’t know how IoT works, but by following the right tutorials and developing with the right tools, your IoT project can be easily realizable. 

Nabto has tools that can not only help you set up an IoT project but also adding legacy systems and newer IoT devices to it.

Here are several ways in which we can help get your legacy systems IoT ready. 

  • You can integrate the Nabto SDK to add IoT remote control access to your devices.
  • Use the Nabto application to move data from one network to another – otherwise known as TCP tunneling.
  • Add secure remote access to your existing solutions. 
  • Build mobile apps for remote control of embedded devices our IoT app solution.

Learn more about these IoT solutions by booking a free consultation with one of our IoT experts today

3. Implement IoT Sensors to Existing Hardware

IoT has the capability to automize, control, and make systems more efficient. Therefore, interconnecting your legacy systems to allow for communication is a great idea.

There’s a high chance your legacy systems don’t currently have the ability to sense or communicate data. However, adding new IoT sensors can give them these capabilities.

IoT sensors are small devices that can detect when something changes. Then, they capture and send information to a main computer over the internet to be processed or execute commands. These could measure (but not limited to):

  • Temperature
  • Humidity
  • Pressure
  • Gyroscope
  • Accelerometer

These sensors are cheap and easy to install, therefore, adding them to your existing legacy systems can be the simplest and quickest way to get to communicate over the internet.

Set up which inputs the sensor should respond to and under what conditions, and what it should do with the collected data. You could be surprised by the benefits that making a simple device to collect data can have for your project!

4. Connect Existing PLCs to the Internet

If you already have an automated system managed by a PLC (Programmable Logic Controller,) devices already share data with each other. Therefore, the next step is to get them online.

With access to the internet, these systems can be controlled remotely from anywhere in the world. Data can be accessed, modified, and analyzed more easily. On top of that, updates can be pushed globally at any time.

Given that some PLCs utilize proprietary protocols and have a weird way of making devices communicate with each other, an IoT gateway is the best way to take the PLC to the internet.

An IoT gateway is a device that acts as a bridge between IoT devices and the cloud, and allows for communication between them. This allows you to implement IoT to a PLC without having to restructure it or change it too much.

5. Connect Legacy using an IO port

A lot of times a legacy system has some kind of interface for data input/output. Sometimes, this is implemented for debugging when the product was developed. However, at other times, this is done to make it possible for service organizations to be able to interface with products in the field and to help customers with setup and/or debug problems.

These debug ports are similar to real serial ports, such as an RS-485 RS-232, etc. That being said, they can be more raw UART, SPI, or I2C. What’s more, the majority of the time the protocol on top of the serial connection is proprietary.

This kind of interface is great. It allows you a “black box” to be created via a physical interface matching the legacy system and firmware running on this black box. This can translate “internet” requests to the proprietary protocol of the legacy system. In addition,  this new system can be used as a design for newer internet-accessible versions of the system simply by adopting the black box onto the internal legacy design.

Bottom Line

Getting your legacy systems to work in IoT is not as much of a challenge as you might have initially thought.

Following some fairly simple strategies can let you set them up relatively quickly. However, don’t forget the planning phase for your IoT strategy and deciding how it’s going to be implemented in your own legacy system. This will allow you to streamline the process even more, and make you take full advantage of all the benefits that IoT brings to your project.

If you want some help getting your legacy systems online, book a free consultation with one of Nabto’s IoT experts today.

Read Our Other Resources

We’ve published a range of IoT resources for our community, including:

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