Solve any IoT problem at the edge with Advantech’s ultra-versatile ICR-3231 cellular router.

When coming up for a concept for this article, it soon became clear that there was no one solution the ICR-3231 was good for. The term “feature-rich” doesn’t quite cut it with Advantech’s ICR-3231 cellular router, and its flexibility means nothing is out of reach for it in the IIoT space. It may sound a cliché, but with so much versatility and software-development potential, with the ICR-3231 the sky really is the limit when it comes to processing and communication in power-sensitive, IoT edge applications.

Not a normal cellular router

If you’ve ever used a typical cellular router, even high-end, the normality is cellular functions coupled with routing software installed on the device, that’s it. We say “that’s it”, but generally that’s all that is required by what is traditionally a single-function device. The ICR-3231 is different — sitting between a cellular router and a Linux-based PC, this powerful and flexible device becomes more than just a cellular router by giving you pre-processing capabilities, reducing or even removing the need for multiple devices on the edge.

Custom, software-based applets

Instead of a standardised instance of generic firmware, the ICR-3231 runs a Linux operating system, and offers space for custom applets, downloadable and administrable through a user-friendly web GUI. We’ll get to the development potential the device offers a bit later, but for now let’s talk about the raft of pre-written custom modules that can be freely downloaded from the Advantech website. Offering Modbus conversion, VPN modules, Node-RED nodes, Ethernet mirroring and more, these 93 modules offer enough for most network engineers to hit the ground running when designing and deploying industrial IoT applications at the edge.

See the list of custom modules here.

Code-your-own

If the near-100 pre-made modules don’t cater for your specific needs, the ICR-3231 provides a way to code your own modules and deploy them right on the device. In fact, it provides three ways to do just that, giving you the flexibility to develop using Python, C++ and Node-RED (which is built into the device), making the practical uses of the ICR-3231 almost limitless.

The hardware is just as impressive

Even without the custom module functionality, the ICR-3231 virtually stands alone when it comes to hardware specs vs cost. It’s one of the few devices we’ve seen in the industrial space that comes with the 5GHz WiFi 802.11ac as standard, giving higher speeds, and better and more efficient handling of the spectrum, giving more data throughput and filtering out of noise.

Another feature we’ve not seen much in other devices is Bluetooth v5. Part of the reason for this rarity is because edge devices that support Bluetooth v5 are few and far between, but as they become more prevalent across the industry, the ICR-3231 will be ready and raring to connect.

Sip, don’t gulp

When it comes to power usage, the ICR-3231 boasts some impressive stats. Advantech report that at peak performance the device runs at about 11 watts. At idle, with WiFi enabled, it runs at around 2.5 watts, but it’s the sleep mode function where the ICR-3231 really shines.

Picture this: a solar-powered battery-based application on the edge. The ICR-3231 sits and processes information, say, once per hour. With a more traditional installation of a small embedded box PC, coupled with a normal cellular router, one or both devices would need to be running at some sort of idle in order to carry out the hourly processing tasks. The ICR-3231, however, not only replaces the two devices with one, but for 59 minutes of that hour it would fall into sleep mode, and use – wait for it – just 10 milliwatts of power.

That’s 0.01 watts.

OK, now gulp

When it comes to power, the ICR-3231 takes dainty sips, as and when they are needed. But when it comes to data transfer, its category 4 LTE cellular capabilities allow it to take huge gulps, achieving up to 50Mb upload and 150Mb download speeds depending on the capabilities of the network and the SIM it is using to connect to it.

In summary

The ICR-3231 is one of the best, most flexible edge devices we’ve seen. Sure, it may struggle with processor or RAM heavy applications, but these applications would naturally fall outside the IoT realm anyway, and drop into more embedded or industrial computing applications. Furthermore, these applications would generate more power consumption, which negates the need for this kind of device altogether.

In terms of IoT applications, we’re pretty confident that there’s nothing, or at least not much, that the ICR-3231 can’t do. No problem it can’t solve. If you get your hands on this device we’re sure you’ll be as excited as we are, so if you’d like to do just that you can buy online here, or speak to our network specialists on +44(0)1782 337 800, or click here to send an enquiry.
Want to keep abreast of the latest technologies, products and solutions for your industry?
Get in touch
Our technical sales team are ready to answer your questions.
T: +44 (0)1782 337 800 • E: sales@impulse-embedded.co.uk
COVID-19 UPDATEThrough strict hygiene and distancing practises, we are still fully operational. Feel free to get in touch for more info! contact us
+44(0)1782 337 800
MediaSolutionsSolve any IoT problem at the edge with Advantech’s...