Why Use an Industrial SIM?

industrial SIM

SIM cards are an essential part of any IoT deployment, but not all SIMs are built for the same workload. While the standard IoT SIM can successfully and securely connect devices in most environments, there are some situations where a more rugged solution is required.

Whether inclement weather is a factor or extreme vibration is unavoidable, inhospitable environments can present considerable challenges for standard IoT SIMs and iSIM. In these scenarios, an Industrial SIM card can provide the same level of connectivity with a greater deal of security and reliability than more traditional SIMs.

Let’s take a closer look at industrial-grade SIMs.

Industrial SIM

What is an Industrial SIM?

At the most basic level, an industrial SIM card functions quite similarly to an IoT SIM. They utilize a contact chip equipped with 16-256 KB of electronically erasable, programmable read-only memory to operate as a storage bank for the authentication credentials and carrier data that allows a device access to a cellular network. 

What distinguishes an Industrial SIM, however, is its more formidable construction. Industrial-grade SIMs are slightly thicker than standard IoT SIMs and certified to be resilient versus the elements. This is due to a special coating that helps insulate the SIM, as well as enhanced chip characteristics that combat erosion, humidity, and vibration.

The result is an M2M SIM card that can withstand exposure to temperatures that range from -40°C to 105°C, can be soldered into a device for increased security/stability, and can still fit into Mini, Micro, or Nano form factors (2FF, 3FF, or 4FF). These enhancements also increase the potential lifespan of the SIM to upwards of 17 years versus the 10-year expectancy typically associated with more common IoT SIMs.

5G autonomous tractor working in corn field, Future technology with smart agriculture farming concept

When Should I Use An Industrial SIM?

As one might assume, Industrial SIMs are essential for deployments set in harsh environments prone to high or volatile temperatures, considerable humidity, or exposure to corrosive chemicals. Their sturdier construction and ability to be soldered into machinery also make them an ideal solution for deployments that involve a lot of vibration or jostling. 

All of this makes the Industrial SIM a natural fit for IoT at the Edge. Take, for example, remote oil pipelines. These installations are often exposed to the elements, whether that’s the freezing cold of the Alaska pipeline or the dust storms of arid desert areas, meaning they could benefit from a more rugged SIM solution.

Their ability to resist vibration and endure strenuous temperatures also makes Industrial SIMs perfect for the automotive industry and asset tracking. The movement of vehicle chassis and mobile assets can potentially dislodge less secure IoT sims from the contact points required to maintain consistent connectivity, and many assets need to ship in refrigerated containers that can sometimes get as cold as -20°C. 

Agricultural installations could also benefit from the utilization of industrial-grade SIMs, something Soracom customer BinSentry knows all too well.

“Feed manufacturers across North America trust BinSentry to monitor thousands of feed bins, automate inventory and improve decision-making,” said Nathan Hoel, CTO and Co-Founder of BinSentry. “In these rugged environments, our gear faces rapid temperature changes and constant dust and vibration. We have tried many [standard] IoT SIM cards, and if it can’t resist failure in these conditions, we can’t use them.”

Some of the other use cases that could benefit from using Industrial SIMs include:

  • Smart Meters
  • Autonomous Vehicles
  • Utility Management
  • ATM and Vending Machines
  • And more
Smart Meters, image by Adobe Stock

IoT In Increasingly Rugged Conditions

As the market continues to evolve, it means that IoT devices will continue to expand into new, less hospitable environments. This is echoed by the projected growth in Edge computing as well, where the market is projected to reach a valuation of $135.6 billion by 2030. Considering that the global IoT market is predicted to reach a valuation of $129.6 billion by 2028, with much of that growth being driven by industrial and supply chain monitoring, it seems likely that industrial SIMs will play an important role in the continued growth of the IoT.

Feel like an Industrial SIM card may be right for your deployment? You can pick up Soracom’s 3-in-1 Industrial SIM at Mouser Electronics. Of course, if you still have questions about whether or not you are ready to take the plunge, you can reach out to our experts here.