Self-Powered Remote Sensors Connect to Cloud

A new generation of self-powered remote sensors enables connection of previously unconnectable remote assets. Groups like farmers, railway systems and utilities can now directly access cloud-based monitoring.

The breakthrough introduces the possibility of offering precise IIoT-based monitoring of remote systems. For example, agricultural irrigation systems, and valves on remote piping systems. It also has potential for security applications of remote locations and equipment.

Increased use of the cloud and IIoT is leading to the expansion of existing technologies to a wider audience. This has been brought about by new generations of Telemechanique self-powered remote sensors. Developed by Schneider Electric, they use Zigbee wireless to enabled remote transmission of up to 50 km.

The new self-powered remote sensors enable the transmission of a signal from a sensor to a remote transmission station up to 50 kilometres (31 miles) and routing to a cloud server. Markedly, due to their very low power consumption, the integrated lithium batteries have an operating life of up to 13 years

Applications include farming, mining engineers, highway transportation management personnel, operators of underground metro railway systems. Along with waste management firms and utility substation operators, users can easily access the benefits of the digital economy. Accessing the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) helps them drive profitability and efficiency gains.

Sensors are devices that detect and respond to environmental inputs. This includes position, pressure, or event-driven state changes. They then send a signal communicating that state change data to a remote device that converts the signal into human-readable information, usually on a display of some sort. In the industrial sector, many thousands of types of sensors exist.

Self-Powered Remote Sensors

IIoT has enabled factory floor and plant operators to gather sensor-driven data. Consolidating data into dashboards enables sophisticated analytics to support efficient management of operations. However, adding wired or wireless sensors to distant devices present problems due to distance constraints.

New LPWAN wireless technologies break through the 100-meter ceiling and reach way beyond, up to a 50-kilometer distance. As a result, IIoT benefits can now spread well beyond the factory floor. The new LPWAN enabled sensors connect to the cloud using antennas in the same way as mobile phones. Distance characteristics are also like mobile phone technology.

For a sensor to work only needs a transmitter within a 50-kilometer distance. Once transmitted to the cloud, server applications interpret the data. This is then transmitted to a laptop, or to an application on a tablet or mobile phone. Device purchase includes a five-year registration on the radio network from Schneier Electric.

Real Application Testing

Firstly, one of the test beds demonstrated an irrigation system for providing water to crops. Until now, irrigation ramps couldn’t support any type of sensor because the data created was not retrievable. In this application, remotely controlling the water pressure optimised efficiency and energy consumption.

The wireless network also supports soil moisture analysis to prevent over or under watering,

Secondly, a test bed monitored a distant valve for preventing accidental release of wastewater and harmful chemicals into a river or lake. Opening the valve sends information to an operator via an alarm on a mobile device.

To learn more about how industrial “sensing” capabilities can now be widely expanded Watch Cloud Connected Sensor video.

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