Positive environmental impact using M2M & telemetry
I became a little bit concerned recently whilst reading about the fear some people have of M2M & Telemetry... that it would invade their privacy or perhaps lead to dangerous situations. The thought of your freezer automatically ordering food isn't appealling for me either but as an industry professional with over 20 years experience I don't see this as being a viable target market (see Future Shock: M2M Gaining Ground).
M2M & telemetry are most beneficial when the machine is 'remote' and it saves someone having to do something. There are practical reasons to automate tasks and M2M solutions do exactly that - I don't consider my fridge to be 'remote' and I don't consider my weekly food shop to be something that needs to be automated. For more information regarding our wireless M2M options then please contact us.
Where I am seeing telemetry be successful is when it saves someone having to drive somewhere to do something. This could be to take a meter reading; to fill a vending machine; to check if a pump or a machine have tripped; or to fill up a chemical or fuel storage tank.
One example I have been involved with has seen a 25% reduction in the distance travelled by large road tankers (click here for more info). The financial benefits are obvious and this helps the western world remain competiive. The environmental benefits are often forgotten.
Investing in M2M & telemetry is a very green thing to do - in some industries there's nothing I can think of that would be greener. Sending drivers on courses to help them drive more efficiently; investing in vehicles that emit less CO2; switching off the engine when parked up.... can you ever see these all adding up to save as much pollution as 25% fewer miles? And can any of these contribute to positively to the bottom line..?
Go Green, Go M2M.!!!
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Powering the M2M & telemetry revolution
Data from M2M and telemetry devices can be of great benefit to business and how we expect the sector to grow, but one question to be answered is how is it going to be powered..? For cars, vending machines and electricity meters this isn’t much of a concern, but there are a large number of applications, such as those in the water/waste water sector or for tank level monitoring in the fuel and chemical sectors, where there is no power or connecting to power is relatively costly.
In many cases telemetry and M2M devices need to operate maintenance free for years and years and this means a good reliable source of power is needed. It also means the technology in the device needs to be able to deliver enough power for the devices to communicate reliably. It is this kind of challenge that faces the hardware developers. Using batteries is one option, though the right chemistry must be chosen to give a low self discharge rate, and unfortunately the chemistry that has this feature suffers as it is generally limited in the maximum amount of power it can deliver and for how long. It is well understood that GPRS is attractively priced for M2M applications, but when communicating using GPRS over the GSM networks there are technical difficulties that must be overcome in order to maximise both signal strength and battery life. These difficulties are not insurmountable as proven with devices such as the Metron2 and the Metron ATEX, but it is most certainly a challenge.
There are applications that don’t suit batteries. Perhaps more power is needed, or a longer time between battery replacements is preferred, and this turns our attention to energy harvesting. A good example of how solar energy can be used is within the cryogenic gas field. Distribution of cryogas is very expensive and part load returns are very costly and potentially damaging to the plant into which they are being returned. Having a telemetry device that can be polled makes it easy for the planners to quickly see which nearby tanks would benefit most from a quick "top up."
This has led to Powelectrics developing a solar powered GPRS capable telemetry system that it always on and therefore pollable. In order to maximise battery life and solar charging potential, or to help recover a battery in poor condition then intelligent charging circuitry is required. As well as this it is important that the charge rate is adjusted according to the temperature of the battery.
But what’s next..? There will be applications where there is no sun because the devices are underground, or when a solar installation would be prone to vandalism. How the M2M and telemetry revolution will be powered presents some interesting questions as well as exciting opportunities to those that are able to harvest the technology.