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Powelectrics Journey From Telemetry to the Industrial Internet of Things and Industry 4.0

Posted on 15 Aug 2018

Dave Oakes, Powelectrics MD, has spent his entire working life working with remote monitoring and sensing solutions. As Powelectrics move forward with the development of our next generation ‘connected sensor solutions’, we couldn’t help indulge in a little nostalgia!

Dave first started working with telemetry back in 1992. Many of his early projects focused on the water industry. The first image here shows a typical radio telemetry mast with communications involving delicenced low power radio telemetry to MPT 1329 (now ETSI 300220). Signals were transmitted from sensors using radio waves to achieve remote monitoring and control, without the need for cabling or a phone line.

By 2000, Powelectrics were offering the IN4MA. It had 4 digital inputs and it could send text messages to mobile phones. This was a simple, early version of m2m that was generally used to connect machines and advise if something was on or off.

As the pace of development picked up, it was only two years until the next generation IN4MA appeared, with its 16 analogue inputs, 16 digital/pulse inputs and 8 digital outputs. It communicated with a telemetry out-station via a ‘data call’ also known as CSD (circuit switch data). This device was more flexible and was typically used for machine monitoring, tank level and environmental applications.

Whilst the newer IN4MA represented a huge leap forward in functionality, there were still limitations. The host or master station could only poll outstations sequentially, not simultaneously.

By 2005, this problem was overcome. Devices evolved to support GPRS, meaning they could use IP-based communications and the central server could receive data from great numbers of devices simultaneously.

During this period, telemetry became a far more practical and affordable solution than it had ever been. Powelectrics supplied thousands of devices, a precursor to the modern situation where businesses can rarely afford to ignore the benefits of using data from connected sensors to understand and control processes on a near real-time basis.

Moving to the present day, telemetry is far more widely known and deployed in a rapidly increasing range of industrial sectors and applications. Innovation in remote monitoring and connectivity is presented to users almost daily and often falls under the definition of the “Industrial Internet of Things” (IIoT) and Industry 4.0.

There is a broad range of wireless communication options, often with low power requirements, so they can run from a battery or solar cell. Advanced power management techniques enhance battery life and maximise signal strength. Sophisticated network handling improves connectivity beyond anything imaginable 10 years ago. Devices are self-contained, compact, reliable and robust.

Powelectrics news pages offer a good idea of the range of sectors in which these Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) solutions are deployed. These stories of real applications include tank level monitoring, flood protection schemes, condition monitoring, performance monitoring, energy metering, projects to protecting people, assets & landscapes and even develop completely new revenue streams.

Powelectrics are connecting sensors via our own devices and a range of third party devices to the cloud. Powelectrics own platform, MetronView currently processes 2.5 million sensor readings/day and supports over 140 protocols including MODBUS, MQTT, HTTP, TCP, UDP, SERIAL, SIGFOX, SNMP and many more. LPWAN technology such as LoRA makes it possible to create affordable wireless sensor networks and “Processing on the Edge” opens up new possibilities when it comes to more complex monitoring requirements. It has an API for simple integration to other software. Customers can receive data and alarms wherever they are and whenever they need it, even on a smart phone or tablet.

Powelectrics act as a connection between the world of sensors and the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) operating at the centre of the ‘connected sensor’ community. We offer 25 years’ experience and an extensive catalogue of success stories. The technology is used to lower operational costs, introduce new revenue streams and open up new business models. Please get in touch if you would like to run through an application or are wondering how we can help you harness the data to drive your business management and strategy. +44 1827 310 666