Powelectrics Blog

Keele & MCIL, 12 months on

It’s 12 months today since I started on the MCIL course at Keele University and I thought it’d be interesting to reflect following a fantastic and positive experience.. Mercia Centre for Innovation Leadership (MCIL) is a prestigious innovation leadership programme addressing distinctive organisational and leadership challenges for innovation-led, knowledge-intensive businesses. It's part-funded through the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) as part of the England 2014 to 2020 European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF) Growth Programme.

I remember it started off with a light-hearted competition to see how close you could get a Post it note and a paper clip to a target about 10 or 15 metres away. Little was I to know how much I’d get to love Post it notes as we soon got into developing business plans based on our strengths, reframing the language we use when presenting the company and learning how to be more innovative. There were also sessions on raising finance, exploiting markets & trends and team building / motivation.

Time is so precious. It would have been easy to put MCIL to one side and focus on day to day challenges, but MCIL enabled me to handle these with newly-honed skills and the confidence. It let me imagine and explore innovative ways to drive the business forward.

When I was invited to become MD of Powelectrics, during the MCIL course, I felt that both the practical management techniques and expert coaching were preparing me well for this next stage in my career. My confidence was well-founded. One year since MCIL began, Powelectrics has really reaped the benefits, achieving significant growth, enjoying a strong order book and sales pipeline and receiving a record number of enquiries. In my 17+ years at Powelectrics I have never felt so confident or optimistic about the future or my own ability to shape it.

I’m grateful to everyone involved. Thank you – I only wish I’d been able to attend MCIL years ago!

Read all posts by Dave Oakes Posted by: Dave Oakes on November 16th, 2018 @ 06:25 AM


Low Power Wide Area Networks (LPWAN) for transmission of sensor data

Radio waves form part of the electromagnetic spectrum, just like microwaves, infra red and light.They all travel at the same speed, but their frequency, and therefore wavelength, vary.

Radio waves have the lowest frequency and the longest wavelength of the different parts that form the electromagnetic spectrum. We are talking in the order of kilo hertz (like the long wave radio) up to Giga hertz (like parts of the mobile networks or satellite communications).

Radio waves towards the very bottom end of the spectrum tend to have a longer range, but because of that they there’s normally more interference, and you need a bigger antenna. Remember the big aerials we used to have on our cars, or perhaps the even bigger ones truckers had for CB..?

If, like me, you like to listen to the cricket on the radio then the only option used to be radio 4 on long wave – a very low frequency at just 198 kilo Hertz. The coverage was amazing, with holiday makers in France being able to tune in, though the sound quality not always great.

If you wanted to listen to radio 1 or 2 or whatever, then you need FM, so around 100 MHz….The downside of lower frequencies is that you can’t send as much data. The sound quality on Long wave is nowhere near as good as FM.The faster the frequency the more waves there are every second, so you can fit more information in…. So you have more bandwidth.

Most people associate broadband with home internet so high speed data, but normally arriving at your doorstep via cable or fibre. Narrow band radio waves have a longer range, but lower data rates, and achieve that using less power. Broadband is the opposite, but why? With narrow band we are taking all the energy and squeezing it into a narrow band of frequencies, but because there’s only a narrow band then we can only squeeze so much data through it. To get more data throughput we need to increase the bandwidth -> broadband but this means the energy is spread out.

We want lower power firstly because it’s great when you can run from a battery and not have to connect to the mains, but also so we can comply with the regulations as each frequency band has a maximum power output. Sigfox and LoRA are both narrow band technologies – so we see excellent range but pretty slow data rates. For sensor readings we rarely need fast data rates.These technologies compliment other wireless sensor communication options. The following table gives a quick summary of the main differences.

Low Power Wide Area Networks Comparison Table

Read all posts by Dave Oakes Posted by: Dave Oakes on May 14th, 2018 @ 3:57 PM
Tagged with: AMR Big Data connected sensor IIOT industrial internet of things IOT LPWAN m2m NBIOT


Adventures of a Hi Vis Michelin Woman!

Lovely weather last weekend wasn’t it! Perfect for bike ride eh? As I am in training for the Tour de Manc with its 100 mile route and 9000 feet of ascent, I felt I had to give it a go. The previous week I’d managed 73 miles around the Peak District with 6100 ft of ascent. I was happy that things were finally progressing after weeks of ice, fog, wind and hailstones … and sometimes all of the above at once!

On Saturday I managed 80 miles. So far, so good….. But with 45 mph winds and snow drifts across the Peak District, I had to take the low road. Dressed in as many windproof layers as I could find, I set out through the gently undulating Cheshire countryside. Sadly, in my guise as “Hi-Vis Michelin Woman” I could only achieve 2750 feet of ascent! It doesn’t look much by comparison with the previous week. It’s not getting me any closer to my goal, which is only seven weeks away.

I took heart from the fact that, whilst it looks like a week off training, Strava-mates are not really getting the whole picture. Strava doesn’t show you the 20 mile an hour headwind that I battled for most of the way home. Strava doesn’t show you the snow driving full-on into my face, melting in my eyes, so I could barely see … or the slush and ice patches that I dodged in the final few miles.

Stava can’t show you that I’d be hard-pushed to say which of the two rides represented the greater physical endeavour. Sometimes you have to look beyond the headline figures.

It’s the same with telemetry. People may only look at the hardware cost or maybe at just hardware and data costs. We encourage people to look at the whole picture when comparing systems and see the project from a life-cycle cost perspective. That means considering the ongoing communication costs, ease of installation and typical maintenance costs, ability to withstand tough physical conditions, proven reliability in the field, flexibility of software to deliver the data and alarms needed, technical support offered, ease of branding hardware and software.

At Powelectrics, we offer 25 years’ experience of getting affordable and accurate data from connected sensors. Our solutions are informed by years of close customer contact. Our Metron telemetry hardware is easy to install with a simple wizard. No programming knowledge is needed. Units can also be configured prior to dispatch or remotely via our MetronView data platform. You can reconfigure them without going back to site. Hardware and software are easily branded & customised. Units support thousands of sensor types and accept analogue, digital and pulse inputs. They are proven in extreme weather conditions and can run off mains, battery and solar power. 

We have put a lot of thought into reducing the project life-cost of owning telemetry. If you have any queries, please give us a call on 01827 310 666. http://powelectrics.co.uk/products/telemetry.asp

Working Together on Factories of the Future

As a proud Mancunian it was a pleasure for me to attend the Industry 4.0 summit held at the GMEX centre. It seemed very appropriate, with Manchester having been at the centre of the industrial revolution, having the first industrial canal, the first steam passenger railway and being the birthplace of atomic physics, the computer and, more recently, where graphene was first isolated.

The Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) is changing the modern factory. Often termed as Industry 4.0, smarter factories will use less energy, require fewer people and have increased throughput. 

There were some highly innovative products being showcased and it was great to meet so many like-minded people. The event reinforced my view that the factories of the future will need affordable and accurate data from connected sensors and that, in order to succeed, us like-minded individuals will need to work together.

There are many different environments and applications. One sensor will not suits all applications. One telemetry device / gateway / hub / router / communications method cannot fulfil every need. Not every platform / portal will give the customer what they need.

We are open to work with others. Powelectrics see ourselves at the heart of the Connected Sensor Community. Let's talk!


Industry 4.0

The fourth generation of the industrial revolution, or Industry 4.0 has begun and it's excititng to be at the heart of it. Factories are getting smarter as data from machines enables faults to be predicted and efficiences made. It's important that organisations can benefit from this new technology without risking their existing infrastructure or interrupting production.

First of all mechanisation took place - over 250 years ago the cotton industry was revolutionised as the Spinning Jenny and the Water Frame increased productivity. Electricity then enabled further developments and more recently we saw factory automation and computerisation get introduced. All the time productivity has increased, processes have become more efficient and quality has improved (well... mostly it has improved).

This next phase of industrial revolution, being named Industry 4.0, or manufacturing 4.0 is making factories smarter. It interlaces M2M and the Industrial Internet of Things (IIOT) and introduces the need for more data about the machines and processes.

Thanks to Powelectrics it is possible to introduce Industry 4.0 production and make your factory smarter without interfering with existing infrastructure, manufacturing and very often without interrupting production. The benefits are huge and the risks are small. Solutions are proven, easy to deploy and easy to manage thanks to the way we put them together. 

Remote Condition Monitoring

Keeping you factories running 24/7 with a skeleton maintenance team is no easy task but proven technology and Planned Preventative Maintenance (PPM) is here to help.

Industrial Internet of Things (IIOT) solutions from Powelectrics are getting used more and more for Remote Condition Monitoring (RCM), helping our clients get an early indication of asset failure. By taking signals from sensors and transmitting them by various methods we can give users the ability to view the data securely via web browsers, collect the data via API’s and receive email alarms.

Sensors are low in cost and easy to fit and using devices such our Powelectrics Metrons this data is made available remotely through secure platforms. This cost effective approach enables assets to be monitored in 'real time' between periodic inspections and opens up the application of Remote Condition Monitoring and Planned Preventative Maintenance (PPM) to assets that have perhaps not justified the expense previously incurred.

Measurements such as temperature and ‘average vibration,’ when monitored over a period of time act as a guide. Its then possible to understand the data - for example we can look for upward trends in the temperature when the device is running. Alarms can be sent, historical data viewed and issues avoided by implementing Planned Preventative Maintenance (PPM) based on the data.