Azure Cloud Services enable remote asset management

For after-sales service of power generators and other plant, the convention is routine visits by the manufacturer. Yet, this incurs large labour costs for them to maintain generator units over a wide area. Using Azure Cloud Services for remote asset management addresses this and more.

In the event of a fault, it is important to implement a solution before substantial damage occurs. By introducing remote monitoring to the operational status of each generator via a cloud management system, suppliers can respond immediately. This also boosts confidence of clients in the vendor’s products and service capability.

Microsoft Azure Cloud Services

To minimise the need for software development and cut the cost of the hardware installation, the German power generator supplier looked to adopt Microsoft Azure Cloud Services as its management platform. They planned to install an add-on system at the generator to add a device-to-cloud equipment management capability. To simplify system installation, maintenance, and expansion, the add-on docking system also needed to be a compact design.

The docking system needed to check a range generator signals in real-time immediate reporting. It also had to be capable of implementing emergency procedures when an anomalous situation occurred. To support the wide distribution of the power generators, all uploading and downloading of data was to be via 4G wireless cellular network.

Implementation

To simplify the compliance of device-to-cloud data connection, reduce system installation costs, and shorten system implementation times was crucial. Moreover, selecting a compact device-to-cloud structure that connects with public cloud services was important for the client. It ensured secure and efficient remote management of critical equipment such as power generators, water pumps, air conditioner units, and elevators.

For the project, Advantech proposed three industrial Ethernet remote I/O modules, the ADAM-6017, ADAM-6050, and ADAM-6266, along with a SmartFlex 4G cellular router. The location for these devices was the docking station installed beside the generator unit. The ADAM-6017 collected operating temperature and power signals from the generator unit and the ADAM-6050 controlled on-site switch signals and warning lights. The ADAM-6266 was for triggering the motor’s emergency switch.

Following data encryption, conversion, and processing by the micro-controller unit in the ADAM modules, power generator status data was sent via the 4G router to Microsoft’s Azure Cloud Service, which is compatible with the ADAM modules. Real-time data visualisation was through a Power BI tool powered by Azure. The output also provided information to support the condition monitoring and preventive maintenance functions.

As the ADAM-6000 series supports several communications protocols, it was not necessary to provide an additional gateway. Importantly, the ADAM-6000 series supports data encryption prior to uploading to the cloud for analysis and remote asset management.

System Diagram

System diagram for Azure Cloud Services enabled remote asset managementment

Selecting Advantech’s ADAM solution helped the supplier complete its remote monitoring management system earlier and at a lower cost. Furthermore, by implementing GPS, Azure Cloud Services to remote asset management enables vendors to track the location of their assets.

 

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