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Communication Protocols of an Industrial Internet of Things Environment: A Comparative Study

Department of Information and Communication Technology, Al Quds Open University, Nablus 00407, West Bank, Palestine
Future Internet 2019, 11(3), 66;
Received: 4 February 2019 / Revised: 3 March 2019 / Accepted: 4 March 2019 / Published: 7 March 2019
(This article belongs to the Section Internet of Things)
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Most industrial and SCADA-like (supervisory control and data acquisition) systems use proprietary communication protocols, and hence interoperability is not fulfilled. However, the MODBUS TCP is an open de facto standard, and is used for some automation and telecontrol systems. It is based on a polling mechanism and follows the synchronous request–response pattern, as opposed to the asynchronous publish–subscribe pattern. In this study, polling-based and event-based protocols are investigated to realize an open and interoperable Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) environment. Many Internet of Things (IoT) protocols are introduced and compared, and the message queuing telemetry transport (MQTT) is chosen as the event-based, publish–subscribe protocol. The study shows that MODBUS defines an optimized message structure in the application layer, which is dedicated to industrial applications. In addition, it shows that an event-oriented IoT protocol complements the MODBUS TCP but cannot replace it. Therefore, two scenarios are proposed to build the IIoT environment. The first scenario is to consider the MODBUS TCP as an IoT protocol, and build the environment using the MODBUS TCP on a standalone basis. The second scenario is to use MQTT in conjunction with the MODBUS TCP. The first scenario is efficient and complies with most industrial applications where the request–response pattern is needed only. If the publish–subscribe pattern is needed, the MQTT in the second scenario complements the MODBUS TCP and eliminates the need for a gateway; however, MQTT lacks interoperability. To maintain a homogeneous message structure for the entire environment, industrial data are organized using the structure of MODBUS messages, formatted in the UTF-8, and then transferred in the payload of an MQTT publish message. The open and interoperable environment can be used for Internet SCADA, Internet-based monitoring, and industrial control systems. View Full-Text
Keywords: automation; IIoT; MQTT; MODBUS; publish–subscribe; request–response; SCADA automation; IIoT; MQTT; MODBUS; publish–subscribe; request–response; SCADA

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Jaloudi, S. Communication Protocols of an Industrial Internet of Things Environment: A Comparative Study. Future Internet 2019, 11, 66.

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