How to Distinguish DTUs, Routers and Industrial IoT Gateways

DTUs, routers and Industrial IoT Gateways are all very common devices in modern communication equipment. Although they can provide data communication, but their designs and applications are difference. In this post,  I’ll provide an overview that the different between the DTUs、routers and Industrial IoT Gateways.




DTU(data transfer unit), which is a kind of data acquisition and communication equipment. It is mainly used to collect data from field devices such as sensors to the cloud or management center. The main purpose of DTU is to accomplish remote transmission and control of data.


There are wireless and wire communication mode of DTU, it include GPRS、3G、4G、NB-IoT、LoRa etc. Among them, the mobile communication technologies such as GPRS and 3G are widely used to the remote monitoring, intelligent power, water resources management and other field. And LoRa wireless technology is often used in smart city, environmental monitoring etc. And its advantages such as long communication distance, low power consumption, strong penetrating power are widely recognize.



The hardware characteristics of DTU are mainly reflected in its stability, anti-interference, environment adaptability and so on. The hardware usually has certain waterproof, dustproof and anti-interference capability because of DTU work in the field environment. Meanwhile, another important characteristic of DTU is low work voltage and low power consumption, which make it work stably in harsh environment and prolong its service life.


DTUs are widely used in industrial automation, IOT, energy management, environment monitoring, agriculture intelligence and other field. industrial control is the primary application scenario for DTUs. Through the DTU devices, factories can achieve the remote control, data acquisition, which plays a very important role in improving production efficiency and ensuring product quality.





Router is a network device whose mainly function is data transmission between different networks, so that a variety of computers and devices can be communication with each other on the internet. The router can provide network interconnection, including data package routing and network address translation.


The communication method of router is mainly wired Ethernet, connect different devices through internet cable then transfer data to the internet. But ThinkWill 4G router and 5G router both support Wi-Fi wireless signal transmission to ensure more devices can be connect the network.



The mainly consideration of router is its transfer speeds, stability and compatibility. Router hardware usually uses high-performance processors and large-capacity storage devices to ensure high-speed data processing and transfer capabilities. In the same time, in order to ensure the stability and compatibility, the router will also consider anti-interference and compatibility of multi-protocol in its design.


Routers are widely used in home, enterprise and other scenarios, providing an important channel for connecting to the internet. In the modern life, router have become an essential device for connecting network and providing internet access. And in the enterprise network, router are used to interconnect different local area network.




Industrial Gateways

In addition to device connection and network transmission, industrial gateways have built-in protocol stacks that ensure protocol conversion between different protocol. They can run linking scripts locally to control devices, set data transmission policies and logic judgments. As an intelligent device, industrial gateways can install operating systems and match corresponding external/local configuration interfaces. 


Industrial gateways usually act as converter of field devices. For example, Industrial gateways can collect data from field device through different protocol, then transform the data to IP protocol and send it through cellular network. A lots of industrial gateways often provide secondary development platform such as python or code languages for user, I/O is essential function of the gateway.



After the industrial gateway is connected with the underlying devices’IOT interface, it needs to interconnect industrial, obtain parsed data, classified data, computational data, stored data and transmitted data from data point table. It also often needs to send commands from cloud platform to the underlying devices, or upgrade programs for the underlying device and itself. Industrial gateways convert massages between various network protocol, the functions can be implemented through a chip, an embedded device or board, or a standalone device. Some devices like PCs can also serve as gateways(or device servers). compared to DTUs and industrial routers that simple transmit data, industrial gateways are more complex and have higher hardware requirements.


About industrial gateways applications, industrial sites often have different network environments, software and systems. The network communication languages between different factories are also different. Gateways are more suitable for industrial-related scenarios. Industrial gateways are used to together with IOT cloud, they can help enterprise provide complete solution, collecting data from field device and sending it to the cloud for further analysis.



In summary, DTUs, routers and industrial gateways are quite difference in terms of purpose, communication method, hardware and application. DTU is mainly used in industrial automation, IOT, environment protection, energy management, etc., emphasizing the data acquisition and remote control. Router is mainly provide network interconnection function, emphasizing internet access and data transfer. Industrial gateways is mainly used in industrial scenarios. In addition to device connection and network transmission, they can realize conversion between protocols and control devices. For different application scenarios, choosing the right device can better meet business needs.


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