The industrial market vertical is characterized by three prevailing application areas – discrete, continuous, and hybrid applications.

  • Discrete applications are often referred to as factory automation or factory systems. The output of discrete operations are individual pieces or “discrete parts,” often manufactured in machines that stamp, form, cut, print, mold, and/or package the raw materials into usable or sellable parts.
  • Continuous applications convert raw materials into usable or sellable product through, most often, chemical transformations without interruption. The product has no measureable beginning or end and is constantly being produced.
  • Hybrid applications are combinations of discrete and process operations.  Batch processing is a good example of a hybrid process.  In batch processing, discrete amounts of materials are loaded into a vessel or similar piece of equipment, combined together as a mixture or with a catalyst to generate a chemical reaction, and then discharged from the vessel as a usable or sellable product.  Hybrid applications are often combined with discrete applications to create products such as bottled or canned beverages, food products, pharmaceuticals, and similar packaged goods.

IoT Elements

Communication Technologies

The industrial market applies a range of wired and wireless communication technologies ranging from licenses band radio communications to serial busses to open Ethernet standards.  The predominant communication technologies are as follows:


   Industrial Market Application Areas
  Discrete Continuous Hybrid
Device Density Medium Medium to High Medium
Quality of Service (QOS) High High High
Latency Low Medium Low
Topology Star, linear, ringresiliency Star, linear, ring, mesh, resiliency Star, linear, ring, resiliency
Power Line power; minimal wireless (predominantly Wi-Fi) Line power; low power wireless for wireless mesh only Line power; low power wireless for wireless mesh only
Range Medium Medium to long Medium
Relevant Technologies Ethernet (predominant)

Industrial fieldbuses


Industrial application protocols

Industrial fieldbuses




Industrial application protocols

Ethernet (predominant)


Industrial fieldbuses

Industrial application protocols

System Protocols

The industrial market is characterized by a wide range of communication protocols, many of which are standardized in IEC 61158 and IEC 61784.  A partial list of industrial protocols includes:

  • ASi-bus
    AS-i (Actuator Sensor Interface) is a bus made up of sensors and actuators with a very short response time. AS-i is an open industry standard supported by the AS-i association.
  • CC-Link
    CC-Link is open industrial network that enables devices from numerous manufacturers to communicate.
  • ControlNet
    ControlNet is an open industrial network protocol for industrial automation applications.
  • DeviceNet
    DeviceNet is a digital, multi-drop network that connects and serves as a communication network between industrial controllers and I/O devices. It was developed for maximum flexibility between field equipment and interoperability among different manufacturers.
  • EtherCAT
    EtherCAT is a real-time Industrial Ethernet technology (included in IEC standard IEC 61158) that is suitable for hard and soft real-time requirements in automation technology, in test and measurement and many other applications.
  • EtherNet/IP
    EtherNet/IP is an industrial network protocol that adapts the Common Industrial Protocol to standard Ethernet
  • Ethernet POWERLINK
    Ethernet POWERLINK is a Real-Time Ethernet field bus system. It is based on the Fast Ethernet Standard IEEE 802.3.
  • Foundation Fieldbus
    FOUNDATION fieldbus is an all-digital, two-way communications system that serves as a Local Area Network (LAN) for factory instrumentation and control devices.
  • HART
    HART (Highway Addressable Remote Transducer) protocol is a widely accepted standard for digitally enhanced communication with instrumentation within the process industries.
  • IO-Link
    IO-Link is a point-to-point serial communication protocol used to communicate with sensors and/or actuators.
  • ISA100.11a
    ISA100.11a is a wireless personal area networking (WPAN) technology standard developed by the International Society of Automation (ISA).
  • Modbus TCP
    MODBUS TCP/IP is a variant of the MODBUS family of simple, vendor-neutral communication protocols intended for supervision and control of automation equipment.
  • OPC UA
    OPC Unified Architecture (OPC UA) is a machine to machine communication protocol for industrial automation developed by the OPC Foundation.
    PROFIBUS is the fieldbus-based automation standard of PROFIBUS & PROFINET International (PI).
    PROFINET is an industry technical standard for data communication over Industrial Ethernet, designed for collecting data from, and controlling, equipment in industrial systems.
  • Sercos
    SERCOS (Serial Real-time Communications System) is an internationally-approved communication standard for motion control (IEC 61491).
  • WIA-FA
    WIA-FA is a specification developed for the Wireless Network for Industrial Automation – Factory Automation.
  • WIA-PA
    An industrial wirless communication standard
  • WirelessHART
    A wireless sensor networking technology based on the  Highway Addressable Remote Transducer Protocol (HART)
  • Zigbee
    An IEEE 802.15.4-based specification for a suite of high-level communication protocols used to create personal area networks with small, low-power digital radios.


Applications can be described according to the type of application areas.  Typical examples include:

  • Discrete
    • Additive manufacturing/3D printing
    • Automated assembly
    • Blow molding
    • Canning and bottling
    • Injection molding
    • Metal cutting
    • Metal forging
    • Metal forming
    • Packaging
  • Process
    • Cement kilning
    • Chemical manufacturing
    • Glass making
    • Iron making
    • Natural gas processing
    • Paper manufacturing
    • Power generation
    • Refining
    • Steel making
    • Water treatment
  • Hybrid
    • Beverage mixing
    • Brewing
    • Dough mixing
    • Food processing
    • Paint mixing
    • Paint reacting
    • Pharmaceutical processing
    • Rubber mixing

Target Market

Well-known industrial market targets include:

  • Automotive
  • Chemicals
  • Entertainment
  • Fibers and textiles
  • Food and beverage
  • Household and personal care
  • Infrastructure
  • Life sciences
  • Marine
  • Metals, mining and cement
  • Oil and gas
  • Power generation
  • Print and publishing
  • Pulp and paper
  • Semiconductor
  • Tire and rubber
  • Water and wastewater

Relevant Standards

A partial list of relevant industry standards for industrial includes: