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Will Things Stop Being Things..?

I've just read an interesting post by Mirko Torrez Contreras (click here to read it). Mirko is principally involved in process automation and questions how the Industrial Internet of Things (IioT) will impact the existing situation where plants are controlled by DCS systems. Over time  IioT smart plants will come to the fore with parameters being monitored that we cannot today conceive and 'Big Data Techniques' used.

This brings to the fore so many questions regarding security, stabillity, data ownership, reliability and more. There's a big difference between pay as you drive insurance and controlling a nuclear power plant.

The revolution has started. The IioT isn't replacing the DCS system yet but we are seeing solutions such as ours gather data from sensors and make it available to users wherever they are, wherever their equipment is.


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Signalling success with the internet of things

I saw an infographic recently that indicated that the typical cost of sensors within the internet of things was around 60 cents and has made me think what kind sensor can you get for this kind of money? What performance will you get? What is the long term reliability like and how does the sensor drift over time? Also, what signal comes out of these sensors and how is it immune to noise..?

For simple meteorological measurements, such as measuring room temperature, then 60 cents is possible, but this is for a piece of silicon that needs to be embedded onto a circuit board. We’ve recently fitted temperature sensors in the depths of a train to monitor the performance of a heat exchanger used to keep the batteries at the right temperature and I can’t imagine a 60 cent piece of silicon lasting very long or giving decent accuracy over the required temperature range.

When deploying any sensor you need to consider not just the cost but the performance, the mounting, the accuracy and so much more, including the signal. The internet of things industry needs to use the worlds of sensing and instrumentation to ensure they have robust, reliable solutions. I’d love to hear about your applications but please don’t expect to get much for 60 cents..!

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A $1.2 trillion opportunity that needs sensing and automation

The Internet of Things is a $1.2 Trillion opportunity that needs Sensing and Automation.
The world is changing and people are expecting data at their fingertips. If you haven't already heard about the internet of things then search the web and you will soon find out that it's real and that it is going to involve an awful lot of sensors and instrumentation.

We have the technology that gives you quick and easy access to this exciting opportunity. We have affordable & flexible hardware that can communicate wirelessly to hosted servers that enable you and your clients to view data on their computers and smart phones over the internet. Alarms can be sent by email and data integrated into 3rd party software solutions, including Internet of Things (IOT) platforms.

I appreciate there's a long way to go before SCADA systems and such like are replaced, but we are already replacing chart recorders and data loggers, and we are opening up new applications which is increasing the sale of sensors.

I saw a television program the other day where IOT was being deployed in a garden, looking at the soil and even monitoring the activity of bee's (take a look for yourself here). This isn't where we are focussed - we are more to do with the INDUSTRIAL INTERNET OF THINGS - looking at machines, pumps, air conditioning, tank levels, process temperatures and lots lots more. This needs sensors.

To learn more about the Internet of Things click here.

Don't hang abut - get in touch to discuss how we can work together to open up new markets.

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Productivity growth - use technology like ours.....

For those of you outside the UK, we have an election being fought at the moment and one of the main subject is the economy, which is no great surprise.

Within the economic debate a hot topic is productivity which has failed to improve since the recession came along and it is being argued that the UK is no longer one of Europes leaading innovators.You can read more about this by clicking on the image to the right.

Our technology increases productivity, as well as lots of other things, and this was highlighted earlier this week when one of clients explained to me how they have not only DOUBLED the volume of product they deliver each time one of their large tankers makes a trip to site but they ahve also managed to reduce the number of phone calls they are handling to the tune of £28,000 per year.

If you aren't dealing with us already I suggest you drop me an email or pick up the phone and we can discuss how we can save you money and time and enhance your levels of customer service.





Read all posts by Dave Oakes Posted by: Dave Oakes on April 17th, 2015 @ 2:43 PM


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Understanding the Internet of Things

This is such a hot topic at the moment! It can get confusing because it involves so many technologies and spans so many vertical sectors. As a telemetry professional, I understand this most simply as taking the signals from sensors and then transmitting them, by various means, to somewhere else, where they can be useful. The signals could be fluid levels in a tank or reservoir, flow readings from a river or industrial process or alarms when something has stopped working, or a threshold has been passed.

My experience began with radio telemetry in the water industry over 20 years ago. Since then technology has evolved at an increasing pace and become more affordable. Remote monitoring of sensors now offers a strong business case in an increasing number of industries, reducing the need for people to physically monitor processes, giving early warning of potential equipment failure and providing real-time data to help with planning, prevention and prediction. Even at the turn of the millennium, I couldn’t have imagined the deployment of over 22,000 telemetry devices into pub cellars to measure the amount of beer being dispensed, or that I would be helping to prevent rail accidents by measuring the temperature of tracks which can buckle at high temperatures.

The terminology has changed – telemetry has become a subset of M2M (Machine2Machine, or Machine2Man, or Man2Machine, depending on what you are doing).  The traditional ways of collecting/ displaying data via SCADA systems is no longer the norm in many sectors and we are seeing ‘cloud’ based systems being the hub of systems like ThingWorx, binding data and creating useable reports. Telemetry traditionally sits between the worlds of instrumentation, IT and telecommunications. Its progress has perhaps been hindered by the need to get representatives of all those fields involved in order to progress a project, but increasingly it is seen as an independent discipline  drawing expertise from all those mentioned above.

Some people think of ‘The Internet of Things’ as a new term for M2M. I don’t agree and I am going to illustrate why with an example involving rainfall, which, coming from Manchester, has impacted heavily on my life, frequently preventing  play in cricket and more recently offering  an excuse not to go cycling….

I’ve had a bit of a brainstorm regarding the various parties who could benefit from knowing that it’s raining in Manchester:-

  • The Environment Agency & local communities want to know so they can take early action in the event of flooding. It may be that insurers would too.
  • The local water authority on both the clean and the dirty water side.
  • On the clean water side it’s an early indicator on the future reservoir level and if it’s heavy rain then in certain areas this could mean more suspended solids in the water increasing the cost to treat the water. It could be beneficial to be treat water from a different region and pump it.
  • On the dirty water side it provides the sewage works with information on the upcoming demand. The sewer network and CSO’s could be used as a holding area allowing the large through put from another region to be attended to first and prevent CSO discharges. This could mean smaller storm tanks are needed at the sewage treatment works, or at least less need to increase the size of storage capacity as populations increase.
  • Farmers can be helped with their irrigation control. If it’s raining to the west and the wind is blowing the weather from there to the farm then don’t switch on the sprinklers just yet, wait and see if the rain comes.
  • The Met office can use the data to compare forecast to actual which in turn will help them become better at forecasting.
  • Building control systems where ventilation is used for temperature control – if the rain is coming then close the windows before it arrives.
  • The traffic network. Heavy rain leads to more accidents so chaos on the roads can be prevented by forewarning drivers about the upcoming conditions and temporary speed limits can be introduced
  • Vehicle forecourts at logistic depots and other places where there are lots of vehicles have interceptor tanks that filter out the oil and brake dust from the water before allowing the water to go to drain or stream. Heavy rainfall can be problematic and leads to forecourts getting flooded or the interceptor being unable to cope, meaning oil can go to drain or stream.
  • Umbrella salespeople know to get out and sell some brollies.
  • Car owners can send a message to their vehicle to tell it to close the sun roof.
  • We can pop out and bring in the washing before the rain comes.

When I consider all the parties who can benefit from information about rain in Manchester, it becomes clear that The Internet Of Things is not merely another term for M2M. Its not just about acquiring data, but about using it effectively. It’s about connecting interested parties, sharing data or selling it.
This could present interesting commercial opportunities and relationships:  Who would instigate and take ownership of the solution? Who would maintain it? Who would be responsible for ensuring the continuity and accuracy of data? What are the security implications and how will business and consumers react to this more open data environment?

At present, the telecommunications providers are very active and have the resource to speculate and invest in the infrastructure. There are great possibilities as these technologies become more widely recognised and their potential is recognised within a broader range of industries. The Internet of Things will continue to be a fascinating area as the world becomes ever more ‘connected’ and information, as always, is power.

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Will the Internet of Things change the way we do business?

The twentieth century was one of change. Change on a scale that man had never been before. The motor car changed the way people and goods were moved, the telephone changed the way we communicate, automation changed the way that goods were manufactured, the radio and television changed the way we are entertained and computers changed the way we worked.

At the start of the twenty first century we have seen computers and smart phones change the way we interact socially and are entertained. What we are seeing now is the development of Machine2Machine (M2M) and the Internet of Things (IoT), delivering data and improving efficiency.

We are seeing the worlds population increasing and fossil fuel resources diminishing, meaning the cost of travel & transportation will increase further. The cost of people will increase as the West expects the East to comply with their health & safety standards, and the East expect Western living standards. The environment will continue to be major concern.

The digital age is changing the way humans interact and think and our ability to plan ahead is no longer needed as everything is now available at the swipe of a touch screen. This behavior change is crossing into industry and customers are demanding improve levels of service and are expecting suppliers to do their thinking and planning for them.

In industry the supply chain is evolving with more co-operation between suppliers and customers.
Contracts are not just based on price. Suppliers will be expected to innovate in order to become more efficient. The data M2M and the IoT provide enable this innovation.

Let's take remote tank level monitoring as an example, where level readings are transmitted from customers tanks to somewhere else such as a server. The supplier knows tank level so the customer no longer needs to check and re-order - or forget to check, forget to reorder and run out! This means the supplier can replenish efficiently, visiting each tank fewer times but delivering the same volume of product. Fewer miles leads to lower costs and less CO2.

The customer can see centrally the delivery has taken place and reconcile the invoice and at the end of each month can see their stock levels and understand their balance sheet. Thefts and leaks can be detected, as can illegal fills (when a competitor makes a delivery into your contracted customer).

For suppliers of bulk liquid products this technology enables a new approach to sales. It's not just about the price but the service as well. It allows the customers behaviour to fall in line with the digital age where everything is always available and we don't need to plan ahead. M2M facilitates cooperation between the customer and the supplier. It's the suppliers toolkit to create a strong, lasting relationship.

M2M is reality. Companies such as Powelectrics provide affordable, reliable technology for a range of applications such as tank level monitoring. This technology is helping their customers lower their operational costs whilst building stronger relationships with their own customers.

The business winners over the coming years will be those that embrace M2M technology.