Connecting the Unconnected: IIoT Platform Solutions for Legacy Systems

Connecting the Unconnected: IIoT Platform Solutions for Legacy Systems
5 min read
25 September 2023

In the rapidly evolving world of industrial technology, the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) has become a game-changer. It promises to usher in an era of improved efficiency, predictive maintenance, and data-driven decision-making. However, many industrial facilities are faced with a challenge—how to connect legacy systems, which were not initially designed with IoT in mind, to the IIoT ecosystem. This article explores the strategies and solutions available for connecting the unconnected and leveraging IIoT's transformative potential.

The Legacy System Challenge

Legacy systems, often comprising aging machinery and equipment, play a vital role in many industrial operations. While these systems may have served reliably for years, they often lack the inherent connectivity and data-generating capabilities of modern IoT devices. This disconnect between legacy systems and the IIoT can hinder businesses from fully capitalizing on the benefits of digital transformation.

Why Connect Legacy Systems to the IIoT?

Before delving into solutions, it's essential to understand why connecting legacy systems to the IIoT is a worthwhile endeavor:

  1. Extended Equipment Life: IoT-enabling legacy equipment can extend its usable life by enabling predictive maintenance and reducing wear and tear.
  2. Data-Driven Insights: Access to real-time data from legacy systems allows for better decision-making, process optimization, and resource allocation.
  3. Cost Reduction: Improved efficiency, reduced downtime, and predictive maintenance can lead to significant cost savings.
  4. Competitive Advantage: Businesses that effectively connect legacy systems to the IIoT gain a competitive edge by embracing digital transformation.

Solutions for Connecting Legacy Systems to the IIoT

  1. Retrofitting Sensors: One of the most common methods involves retrofitting sensors onto legacy equipment. These sensors can collect data on temperature, pressure, vibration, and more, making the equipment "smart" and capable of transmitting data to an IIoT platform.
  2. Gateways and Edge Computing: Gateways and edge computing devices act as intermediaries between legacy equipment and the IIoT platform. They preprocess data locally and transmit only relevant information to the cloud, reducing latency and bandwidth requirements.
  3. Protocol Converters: Legacy equipment may use proprietary or outdated communication protocols. Protocol converters bridge the gap by translating these protocols into modern, standardized ones compatible with IIoT platforms.
  4. IoT-Ready Components: In some cases, manufacturers offer IoT-ready versions of their equipment with built-in sensors and connectivity. Investing in such upgrades can simplify integration.
  5. Middleware Solutions: Middleware acts as a bridge between legacy systems and IIoT platforms, facilitating data exchange and communication. It can translate data formats and handle protocol conversions.
  6. Cloud-Based IIoT Platforms: Choose IIoT platforms that offer robust integration capabilities, allowing you to connect legacy systems seamlessly. These platforms often provide software development kits (SDKs) and APIs for customization.

Challenges and Considerations

While connecting legacy systems to the IIoT is highly beneficial, it comes with its own set of challenges and considerations:

  1. Cost: Retrofitting and upgrading legacy systems can be expensive, although the long-term benefits often outweigh the initial investment.
  2. Security: Legacy systems may lack modern security features. It's crucial to implement robust security measures to protect data and prevent cyber threats.
  3. Compatibility: Ensuring compatibility between legacy systems and IIoT components can be complex. Extensive testing and integration efforts are often required.
  4. Data Integration: Merging data from legacy systems with data from newer IoT devices can be challenging. Data integration strategies and tools are essential.
  5. Scalability: Consider future scalability requirements when designing your IIoT solution, as your industrial operations grow.

Case Studies

Several industries have successfully connected legacy systems to the IIoT:

  1. Manufacturing: A factory retrofitted its aging CNC machines with sensors and edge computing devices, enabling predictive maintenance and reducing downtime by 30%.
  2. Utilities: A power plant integrated legacy turbines with an IIoT platform, optimizing their performance and reducing fuel consumption by 15%.
  3. Transportation: A logistics company equipped its fleet of older trucks with GPS trackers and sensors, improving route optimization and fuel efficiency.


Connecting the unconnected—legacy systems—to the IIoT is not only possible but also highly beneficial. By embracing retrofitting, gateways, protocol converters, and other solutions, industrial facilities can unlock the transformative potential of the IIoT. While challenges exist, the long-term advantages of improved efficiency, data-driven insights, and cost reduction make the effort worthwhile. In an increasingly competitive industrial landscape, the ability to leverage legacy systems for digital transformation can be a game-changer, ensuring that even the oldest equipment can contribute to a smarter and more efficient future.


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Alisa Goodrich 2
Joined: 8 months ago
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