Powelectrics Blog

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Do It Yourself Internet of Things

As we deploy more and sensors and gateways into more diverse applications it is becoming apparent that the users don’t always know what to expect from the data. How does the differential pressure across a filter relate to when the filter needs changing? How does the temperature of a bearing vary with load and what is the impact of wear and tear? By getting data and then analysing so much more can be understood, and it is sometimes possible to use just a few sensors to get a large amount of useful information.

The processes, machines, vehicles, storage tanks or whatever else is being monitored are usally best understood by our clients and giving them the tools to 'play' with their data, investigating relationships, creating bespoke reports from calculated fields, looking at averages, maximums, minimums, comparisons and counts helps them get to a point where they can benefit quicker. To facilitate this we have developed a plug in for Microsoft excel meaning they can have a spreadsheet with ‘live’ and historical data from any number of devices and they can start to build up the formulae and reports themselves. Many users have good skills with excel and are loving the freedom this new tool brings. Thanks to the power of excel then we have been able to create reports, for example, on the number of deliveries made to tanks, the typical delivery size and how this relates to the size of the tank, so the clients can analyse where they can make improvements.

This approach suits small scale roll outs or can be used as a way of defining requirements before committing to a more involved software development. When coupled with the Metron hardware & software platform, which can take signals from any sensor anywhere and make it accessible securely via the internet, then getting reliable, accurate and useable sensor data has never been easier. From sensor to excel, in a proven, easy, flexible and affordable way giving you do it yourself internet of things.

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Knowledge is Power

The phrase was used in Arabic texts as far back as the tenth century. Knowledge has always been a strategic asset, enabling better control and decision making, but whilst the concept is ancient, the way we gather data, the sheer volume of data and our ability to share and analyse data proliferates at a bewildering pace!

‘Internet of Things’ (IoT) and Machine to Machine (M2M) solutions collect, manage and organise information from a huge range of products and machines that are connected via the internet. This information often comes from sensors.

Powelectrics offer telemetry which interfaces with sensors, making data available via web portals and API’s, enabling data to be cost effectively collected from products and machines wherever they may be. We offer a range of hardware solutions and a powerful software platform. You can start receiving data within minutes of opening the box, eliminating development and integration costs.

  • Reliable, Proven, Secure, Flexible and Affordable

  • No Development, No Coding

  • Easily Branded Software and Hardware

  • Setup With a Simple Wizard

Compatible With Tens of Thousands of Sensors

Thousands of award-winning ‘Metron’ devices are deployed globally, in sectors including chemical and petrochemical, food production and distribution, transport, security, public transport, water and waste, environmental and factory automation.

Metron devices accept any sensor offering a 4-20 mA or 0-10 volt output, offering a ‘plug and play’ solution for monitoring tens of thousands of sensors, including flow, level, pressure, temperature, vibration, noise, wind speed & direction, humidity, pH and many more. Our technology supports analogue, digital and pulse inputs.

Flexible, Reliable and Affordable

Metrons are exceptionally flexible, able to use external power, internal battery or solar cell, meaning they can be used even in truly remote environments. Devices control power to the sensors and are remotely programmable, with a simple wizard for setup.

Metrons have four inputs, so you can use one device and SIM to monitor up to four sensors. The integral display helps with setup and test in-situ and units can be remotely configured via our software. Metron technology replaces chart recorders, data loggers, digital displays & costly local gauges and devices are weatherproof.

Metrons offer integral low-cost GSM/GPRS communications with intelligent power management that maximises battery life and signal, to ensure that communication is as reliable as possible.

See Your Data Wherever and Whenever You Need It

Powelectrics data collection and viewing platform, Metron View, is a web-based data logger, offering real-time data monitoring, via your preferred browser, direct to your computer, tablet or smart phone.

  • See graphs and tables quickly online.

  • Receive user-defined alerts if thresholds are breached.

  • Change configuration via the web - tag names, scaling, data frequency and more

  • Export data into other platforms

Metron View can be badged with corporate colours and logos, so it appears as your own. It can be customised, delivering bespoke data displays, reports and data exports to suit the way you work. Unusually, Powelectrics even offer an open protocol, with the API in place so that our solutions can be easily integrated into other control and management systems. Customers may also host our software on their own servers. “Micro sites” can be created quickly and affordably to present data in your preferred format.

Diverse Applications

Tank Level - Metron solutions accommodate any shape or height of tank – gas, liquids, powders and granules, cutting logistics costs, enhancing service agreements, helping tie customers in and preventing theft, run-outs and safety breaches. Projects include diesel, heating oil, LPG, milk, AdBlue, animal feeds, construction additives and waste.

Condition Monitoring – Metrons are used to monitor essential plant & machinery to give early warning of failure and prevent costly stoppages. Projects include monitoring temperature, humidity and vibration on airport x-ray units, monitoring level, pressure and flow in pumping stations and temperature in server rooms, cell towers, food stores and even ice-rinks!

Public Transport- Projects include monitoring fuel levels, bearing and rail temperatures, battery chargers, whistle boards and water dosing. A solution used by Virgin Trains incorporation our technology was highly commended at the 2015 Modern Railway Innovation Awards!

Counting – Metrons have been used to measure the number of people visiting showrooms and using public footpaths.

Public Safety- Metrons are used to verify that klaxons sound at pedestrian crossings when trains pass and that beacons are warning people when firing ranges are in use.

Powelectrics Metron telemetry solutions offer the simplicity, flexibility, reliability and affordability to be considered for an extensive and expanding range of applications. Please contact us on 01827 310666 to discuss your applications with a product specialist and arrange a demo of what our solutions can offer your business.


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We're going underground with the IOT

This week a colleague of mine was invited to undertake some tests to see how our devices worked when installed under manhole covers. We were told to expect poor results as others had struggled in the past but the device performed really well. We were presented with 3 types of manholes (light, medium & heavy) and we did some testing with both GSM (GPRS) and 169MHz radio equipment.

Things went really well with us being able to communicate from beneath all three types on manholes with both GSM (GPRS) devices and the 169MHz radio kit.

So why is it we have succeeded where others have failed..? First of all with the GSM (GPRS) equipment we have a well tuned antenna but more importantly we do some clever power management making sure the GSM device gets plenty when it needs it making communications as robust as is possible.

Frequency also has an impact. The higher the frequency the waves the harder they find it to burrow through objects such as manhole covers. Different GSM operators use different bands. We use multi network sim cards to give us the best performance possible. The frequency is also why the 169MHz radio equipment has worked so well.

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Making (radio) waves

In the coming weeks we will be introducing a new range of radio transmitters, suitable for meter reading, building monitoring, smart cities, smart factories, IOT, M2M and lots more. We have recently been doing some range testing and the results are fantastic. Thanks to modern manufacturing techniques and the general advancement in electronics we have been able to achieve 5.7 miles (around 9 kilometres) at a price point that is around 10% of something comparable I was deploying 20 years ago. Not only is the kit lower in price but it’s also smaller, lighter & easier to use.

What clients will be able to do is install equipment with confidence – this kind of range means that it will be easy to get across a factory, building development or even a decent sized town, with lots of sensors and meters reporting back to a single hub. We will be able to then use GSM based technology to get the data into IOT clouds or provide interfaces to get the data into PLC’s, SCADA systems and such like. A stronger signal means more robust communications which in turn means better reliability and therefore low operational costs.

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Making sense of the internet of things

Things are moving at a fast pace in the internet of things world but recent dialogue with various industry experts shows me there’s a bit of a bottle neck in the data collection side of things. It’s vital that accurate data is collected reliably, that the solutions are easy to deploy and have the ability to be centrally managed. This is precisely why we have created a a solution that allows you to connect thousands of different types of sensors from hundreds of manufacturers and have the data available via an API. Within minutes of plugging in a connector you can data flowing, available securely online. Data that is accurate & reliable from locations very remote and without power.

Thanks to our catalogue of proven configurations and a solution platform that facilitates sensor management parameters bets understood by instrument technicians can handled by the click of a mouse. Zero, span, tag names, thresholds… all configurable from your computer, laptop or even smart phone from wherever you are in the world, wherever your equipment is. Now that really is making sense of the internet of things. We’ve turned hardware into easyware.

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Mitigating IOT deployment risks

There’s no need to keep on re-inventing the wheel and deploying a proven piece of kit not only reduces development time but also increases the chance of success. Solutions such as the Metron ensure that accurate data is delivered reliably and with “out of the box” solutions available that encompass many different verticals and utilise thousands of sensors the no matter what you want to do there’s a good chance we have a “plug and go” option for you.

As the world of IOT evolves then the need for M2M and telemetry technology increases. In order to make life easy & affordable for the IOT world we have developed a way for data from pretty much any sensor to be made available through a simple and well documented API so no matter what you want to monitor it’s there, at a click of a mouse.

Sensors need to be deployed appropriately and often they need to be configured to suit the application, and thanks to the Metron platform this can all be done from thousands of miles away using your computer.

Data collection & integration has never been easier.