What is MQTT and How Does it Add Value to Logistics Operations?

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The industry of manufacturing is quickly becoming a competitive environment. One way to stay ahead of the competition is by implementing connected factory data forwarding solutions.

Systems in Industry 4.0 and internet-of-things (IoT) environments have the potential to create a large amount of data. To take full advantage of this data, it needs to be made available for consumption by the correct system shareholder. Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE), leverages information such as system(s) health/performance stats product details, etc. Detailed performance information is forwarded to the correct individual/group enabling proactive action to keep a system running at peak efficiency. For example, Operators could use production throughput data to improve processes and Maintenance teams can use system health data to troubleshoot any potential device or system issues.


One of the most widespread data forwarding protocols is Message Queueing Telemetry Transport (MQTT), which is a publish/subscribe messaging protocol. It is often used in machine-to-machine (M2M) communications for collecting data from connected devices and forwarding that data to interested parties. MQTT offers a robust platform for data transmission. This makes it an ideal solution for manufacturers that need to transmit large amounts of data between systems in their factories and/or remote locations such as customers' facilities or third-party suppliers.

Recently, logistics organizations have seen the value of extracting device data (such as images or data from image-based barcode readers) and forwarding it to operational analytics engines – whether they are on premise, remote, or in the cloud. Organizations with multiple sites can look at the data either in aggregate, or at a facility level. The idea is to use the wealth of data created by the IIoT devices to improve business operations.

Efficient and Secure Data Pipeline

Systems in IoT environments produce a lot of data in need of forwarding. As an event-based protocol with low overhead, MQTT was designed to efficiently handle the high-volume, low-latency requirements of those environments. This means it can send a lot of data quickly without using too much bandwidth and has a smaller footprint than other protocols. All messages are transmitted over a single connection so there is no additional load on the network that would be created by opening multiple connections for each device. Not only does this makes it very easy to scale from 1 device to a production standard, but it also reduces network strain while adding a security layer that tracks all connections while handling security credentials and certificates.

Speed and security

The low overhead required by MQTT opens many opportunities!  Since it does not require a lot of processing power to be executed on the client side, it is the ideal protocol for devices with limited memory and battery capacity. This low overhead also means MQTT is prime for getting scaled up and deployed in very large, high-volume environments. When compared to other polling protocols, MQTT’s publish/subscribe protocol forwards more data with less bandwidth. Security-wise, MQTT is very safe with its permission-based security system, and it offers a guarantee that data is never lost or duplicated.

MQTT Finding Value in Logistics

After hearing about its advantages, one may wonder where MQTT is used today. It was first used in the oil-and-gas industry but has since expanded into other industries; now in use in large companies such as Facebook, Amazon, and Walmart. MQTT is used in many popular Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) systems like Ignition and Chariot. These SCADA systems allow retail distribution, e-commerce fulfillment companies, and third-party logistics providers to control and monitor their logistics operational processes.


Cognex’s new system performance and device monitoring solution, Edge Intelligence (EI), offers simple and intuitive MQTT data forwarding capabilities. Using the MQTT protocol to transmit device and performance data is significant for logistics organizations because of its lightweight overhead, its flexibility to be used across a variety of IOT applications, and it offers low risk due to its security model. The rich device data is consumed by control applications (such as Ignition) where it can be further analyzed to help identify and solve performance and throughput issues as well as provide insights into equipment wear which can be addressed proactively instead of reactively. Using the insights from the analytics, logistics organizations can continually optimize their processes and run a higher quality operation.

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