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Antarctica inhabits a unique place in the human exploration mythos. The vast expanse of uninhabitable land twice the size of Australia has birthed legendary stories of human perseverance and cautionary tales about the indomitable force of nature. However, since those early years, Antarctica has become a rich research center for all different kinds of data collection – from climate change, to biology, to seismic and more. And although today there are many organizations with field stations running this data collection, the nature of its, well, nature still presents daily challenges that technology has had a hand in helping address.

Can You Send Data Through Snow?

British Antarctic Survey (BAS) – of recent Boaty McBoatface fame – has been entrenched in this brutal region for over 60 years, the BAS endeavors to gather data on the polar environment and search for indicators of global change. Its studies of sediments, ice cores, meteorites, the polar atmosphere and ever-changing ice shelves are vitally important and help predict the global climate of the future. Indeed, the BAS is one of the most essential research institutions in the world.

In addition to two research ships, five aircraft and five research stations, the BAS relies on state of the art data gathering equipment to complete its mission. From GPS equipment to motion and atmospheric sensors, the BAS deploys only the most precise and reliable equipment available to generate data. Reliable equipment is vital because of the exceedingly high cost of shipping and repair in such a remote place.

To collect this data, BAS required a network that could reliably transmit it in what could be considered one of the harshest environments on the planet. This means deploying GPS equipment, motion and atmospheric sensors, radios and more that could stand up to the daily tests.

In order to collect and transport the data in this harsh environment, BAS needed a ruggedized solution that could handle both the freezing temperatures (-58 degrees F in the winer), strong winds and snow accumulation. Additionally, the solution needed to be low power due to the region’s lack of power infrastructure.

 The Application

Halley VI Research Station is a highly advanced platform for global earth, atmospheric and space weather observation. Built on a floating ice shelf in the Weddell Sea, Halley VI is the world’s first re-locatable research facility. It provides scientists with state-of-the-art laboratories and living accommodation, enabling them to study pressing global problems from climate change and sea-level rise to space weather and the ozone hole (Source: BAS website).

The BAS monitors the movement of Brunt Ice Shelf around Halley VI using highly accurate remote field site GPS installations. It employs FreeWave radios at these locations to transmit data from the field sites back to a collection point on the base.

Once there, the data undergoes postprocessing and is sent back to Cambridge, England for analysis. Below are Google Maps representation of the location of the Halley VI Research Station and a satellite image (from 2011) shows the first 9 of the remote GPS systems in relation to Halley VI.

The Problem

Data transport and collection at Halley VI requires highly ruggedized, yet precise and reliable wireless communication systems to be successful. Antarctica is the highest, driest, windiest and coldest region on earth and environmental condition are extremely harsh year round. Temperatures can drop below -50°C (-58 °F) during the winter months.

Winds are predominantly from the east. Strong winds usually pick up the dusty surface snow, reducing visibility to a few meters. Approximately 1.2 meters of snow accumulates each year on the Brunt Ice Shelf and buildings on the surface become covered and eventually crushed by snow.

This part of the ice shelf is also moving westward by approximately 700 meters per year. There is 24-hour darkness for 105 days per year when Halley VI is completely isolated from the outside world by the surrounding sea ice (Source: BAS Website).

Additionally, the components of the wireless ecosystem need to be low power due to the region’s obvious lack of power infrastructure. These field site systems have been designed from ‘off the shelf’ available parts that have been integrated and ‘winterized’ by BAS for Antarctic deployment.

The Solution

The BAS turned to wireless data radios from FreeWave that ensure uptime and that can transport data over ice – typically a hindrance to RF communications. Currently, the network consists of 19 FreeWave 900 MHz radios, each connected to a remote GPS station containing sensors that track the movement of the Brunt Ice Shelf near the Halley VI Research Station.

The highly advanced GPS sensors accurately determine the Shelf’s position and dynamics, before reporting this back to a base station at Halley VI. Throughput consists of a 200 kilobit file over 12 minutes, and the longest range between a field site and the research station is approximately 30 kilometers.

Deployment of the GPS field site is done by teams of 3-4 staff using a combination of sledges and skidoo, or Twin Otter aircraft, depending on the distance and the abundance of ice features such as crevassing. As such, wireless equipment needed to be lightweight and easy to install and configure because of obvious human and material resource constraints.

In addition, the solution has to revolve around low power consumption. FreeWave radios have more than two decades of military application and many of the technical advancements made in collaboration with its military partners have led to innovations around low power consumption and improved field performance. The below image shows an example of a BAS remote GPS site, powered by a combination of batteries, a solar panel and a wind turbine (penguin not included).

FreeWave Technologies has been a supplier to the BAS for nearly a decade and has provided a reliable wireless IoT network in spite of nearly year-round brutal weather conditions. To learn more, visit: http://www.freewave.com/technology/.

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What are common features of IIoT and SCADA/HMI and differences between them? And what advantages do Internet of Things Platforms have over SCADA systems? Find out answers in our new presentation.

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We've updated our IoT platform presentation to tell you more about it, derived products and solutions.

Pleasant viewing!

                           

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Our software offers fully functional monitoring solutions for healthcare organizations. Fast deployment, easy integration, and great usability guarantee quick troubleshooting to your healthcare IT teams.

AggreGate IoT Platform enables centralized monitoring and data aggregation for various wearable medical devices and mobile e-health applications. Intelligent Big Data processing algorithms allow detecting negative trends proactively, providing a strong foundation for building customized predictive medicine solutions.

In addition, choosing AggreGate solutions for your medical infrastructure monitoring, you get all types of industry-specific management.

Find out what AggreGate can offer for your health, medical devices, and facilities in IoT Solutions for Healthcare and Social Institutions website section.

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Tibbo announced the release 5.4 of AggreGate IoT Integration Platform.

We've achieved great results in optimizing AggreGate server performance, especially event and value update storage performance. From now on, a single server can process and persistently store up to a hundred thousand events/updates per second, which is almost equal to 10 billion events per day. Such performance figures don't even require any high-end server hardware.

A new chapter has been opened by this release, presenting AggreGate's graphical and textual programming languages inspired by IEC 61131-3 standard, also known as "SoftPLC". Millions of engineers are now able to use AggreGate as a process control logic development environment.

One innovative feature of AggreGate's automation languages is tight integration of runtime with the Tibbo Project System hardware. Your programmed logic can access and control all Tibbit modules of a Linux-based TPS board/box. Currently available languages are: Function Block Diagram (graphical), Structured Text (graphical), Sequential Function Chart (textual).

Widget capabilities are no longer limited by the standard set of components. Now it can be easily extended. New Widget Component SDK allows to implement custom visual components in Java and use them in AggreGate widgets. Extend AggreGate's wide component palette with UI controls best suited to your needs!

We continue making our UI interface clearer and more user-friendly. The next step is lightweight icons. We redesigned them to be up-to-date with modern flat paradigm. New color coding assists users to navigate over various available toolbar actions.

Other major improvements include:

  • Built-in timestamps and quality for data tables.
  • Component connectors that allow to visually link UI components with each other.
  • Secure and reliable Agent communications. Agent-Server communications now can be SSL-protected. When transferred data amount is critical, data compression can be enabled in parallel to encryption.
  • Granulation, a brand-new highly customizable data aggregation and consolidation tool. The granulation engine allows to combine datasets into compact representation that contains all important aspects of original information in virtually any form suitable for later processing. This allows to reduce memory and storage consumption along with boosting data processing performance.
  • Server remote upgrading. To reduce company's expenses, a remote AggreGate server upgrade operation is now supported. You can use our Unified Console application to connect to a remote server, upload a server upgrade bundle file and wait while the upgrade process is finished. That's it! All operations, including database backup, stopping server, upgrading and restarting will be performed at the server side automatically.

We are bringing our IT & Network Management solution (AggreGate Network Manager) to a new level by turning it into a full-fledged IT Service Management System. In this release, we introduce several essential instruments for that: Configuration Management Database (CMDB), metrics engine and topology-based root-cause analysis tools. Another ITSM functionality - IP address management module - is now available and you can use it out-of-the-box.

AggreGate 5.4 includes new device drivers: CoAP, MQTT, IEC 104, DLMS/COSEM, SMI-S.

You can get detailed information on the new 5.4 release, download and try the updated AggreGate IoT Platform on our website: http://aggregate.tibbo.com/news/release-54.html

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Originally Posted by:  

With the announcement of the Cisco Solution for LoRAWAN™, Service Providers have an integrated solution that enables them to extend their network reach to where they’ve never gone before – i.e., offering IoT services for devices and sensors that are battery powered, have low data rates and long distance communications requirements. The solution opens new markets and new revenue streams for Service Providers, and can be deployed in a wide range of use cases in Industrial IoT and Smart City applications such as:

  • Asset Tracking and Management
  • Logistics
  • Smart Cities (e.g., smart parking, street lighting, waste management, etc.)
  • Intelligent buildings
  • Utilities (e.g., water and gas metering)
  • Agriculture (e.g., soil, irrigation management)

AU43170

Our Cisco Mobile Visual Networking Index estimates that while LoRa is in its early stages now, these types of Low Power Wide Area connectivity means will quickly gain traction and that by 2020, there will be more than 860 million devices using it to connect.  One of the reasons for such forecasted aggressive adoption, especially in North America and Western Europe, is that LoRa® works over readily available unlicensed spectrum. Cisco is a founding Board member of the LoRa® Allianceformed in January, 2015, with a goal to standardize LPWA Networks in order to stimulate the growth of Internet of Things (IoT) applications.

Cisco has been working with a number of Mobile Operators who are trialing and deploying LoRa® networks to target new low-power consumption IoT services such as metering, location tracking and monitoring services. Many Mobile Operators are looking at LoRa® as complementary to NarrowBand IOT (NB-IOT), an upgrade to current mobile networks that drops the transmit power and data rates of the LTE standard to increase battery life. As NB-IOT networks, devices, and ecosystems will not be commercialized until 2017, LoRa® gives Operators (and all SPs, in fact) a way to gain a head-start on offering new IoT services based on various new low cost business models.

Cisco’s approach to IoT is to deliver integrated solutions that enable SPs to support different class of services aligned with specific pricing models across unlicensed (Wi-Fi, LoRa) and licensed (2G/3G/LTE, and soon, NB-IoT) radio spectrum as demanded by the IoT application. Our multi-access network strategy for IoT is complemented by the Cisco Ultra Services Platform (USP) – our comprehensive, virtualized services core, which includes mobile packet core, policy and services functions. Cisco USP delivers the scalability and flexibility that Operators focusing on IoT need as more and varied “things” get connected to their networks.

Cisco continues to integrate and evolve solutions such as LoraWAN™ to help Service Providers of all types capitalize on new IoT opportunities and transform into next-generation IoT Service Providers.

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Guest post by Jules Oudmans. This article first appeared here.

An important, crucial, aspect in IIoT applications is the communication layer. This layer is responsible for relaying sensor values from the field to northbound processing of this data and the southbound control.

In my previous blog I concluded that IIoT is reality, but headaches are ahead choosing the right protocol and communications provider, especially when your IIoT solution requires long-range support, will be deployed in multiple countries and needs cross border coverage.

Protocols, protocols, protocols …

The myriad of protocols in IoT land is still growing and can truly be overwhelming. In below table I have limited the protocols listed to only those that support long-range. Next to this the table shows data rates and bi-directional capability, these are important qualifiers for typical IIoT solutions and may help you choose the right protocol … but continue reading!!

What Protocol … No Sorry What Provider .. or Protocol !??

The vast majority of today’s M2M communication relies on 2G and 3G networks. These networks reliably provide, relatively low-cost, long range and border stretching networks for IIoT applications. They are offered by a wide variety of providers and support roaming. A truly excellent choice for your IIoT solution … were it not that 2G/3G networks are expected to disappear in the next 5 years. This is where the headache starts ... as today no cross-border roaming IIoT provider is out there supporting a protocol with an expected useful lifetime equal to a smartphone.

You could off course develop your IIoT solution – sensors, middleware, processing nodes et cetera. – to support multiple protocols but this is unpractical and costly.

When we limit ourselves to an IIoT deployment that requires long range connectivity, is low- cost, will be deployed in multiple countries and will be available after 2020 than, today, we can choose between:

  • SigFox: A protocol with country coverage in certain EU countries and countries under rollout such as Brazil, Germany, UK and the US; and
  • LoRa: A protocol offered by multiple providers. Some country covering networks are available today and some network providers cover regions or cities.

SigFox

SigFox is available in countries where rollout is requested (chicken and egg). Today roaming is not supported, but besides this all data goes over SigFox managed servers(!). The latter something that certain companies will not want.

LoRaWAN

LoRaWAN is growing in popularity, LoRa networks are predominantly rolled out by the NTCs – National Telephone Companies – but you also see new communication providers popping up such as DIGIMONDO in Germany, Wireless Things in Belgium et cetera. This because there are no frequency auctions for LoRa. So far so good, but LoRa also has a small caveat: roaming is under development – expected this year.

Conclusion

With new communication providers popping up out of nowhere and NTCs pushing rollouts of LoRa like there is no tomorrow there is a lot of turbulence in the IIoT communications space.

Today no cross-border roaming IIoT provider is out there supporting a protocol with a ‘long’ lifespan. Today LoRa is, in Europe, one of the best alternatives to focus on.

Closing Notes

In this post I have not taken LTE-M into consideration as it is becoming available this year(1):

LTE-M rollout will likely be fast as it can utilize existing mobile phone infrastructures. I recommend you to read the Ericsson White Paper: Cellular networks for massive IoTand to keep an eye on this space. But also don’t lose track on Ingenu (promising(2)),NWAVE and NB-IoT. Some expect that NB-IoT will ‘crush’ LoRa and SigFox(3) .. just furthering the headache.

Weightless was left out of the consideration in this article as it is only available in a few different European cities and is more mid than long range .. but hey it may well suite your IIoT needs!

Due to the turbulence and changes in communications land this article very likely needs to be revisited in 3-to-6 months from now.

Finally: If you are looking to set-up a private LoRaWAN network, or wanting to play around with LoRa possibilities there is not much stopping you. For approximately 280$ you can have your own LoRa network – have a look at TheThingsNetwork.

UREASON

UREASON has been at the forefront of IoT /IoE, reasoning over real-time streaming data and events in the manufacturing industry and telecom. We apply an ensemble of techniques – best fitting the requirements – and a wealth of knowledge focused on providing a tailored response to the environment of our customers.

Our capabilities in the Industrial Internet of Things field include:

  • Feasibility studies and Proof of Concepts including hardware prototyping and field tests;
  • Support and roll-out of IIoT solutions in Operational Safety and Predictive Maintenance;
  • Recommendations for human-cyber physical systems, augmented reality and Internet of Things technologies; and
  • Support in Machine Learning and Big-Data initiatives supporting IIoT applications.

References

(1): Cellular IoT alphabet soup, Ericsson Research Blog, 2016

(2): RPMA Technology for the Internet of Things, Ingenu

(3): Vodafone to 'Crush' LoRa, Sigfox With NB-IoT, 2016

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Guest blog post by Greg Conary. This blog was originally published here

IIoT business

It’s become quite clear that the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) is the future of Industry. By now we’ve well and truly covered the point that IIoT is, in fact, not hype. For end users and OEMs IIoT, cloud and big data analytics are creating very real business opportunities.

IIoT not only enhances the communication between machines and people – it is facilitating the next wave of value-added customized business services. In fact, Gartner is forecasting that by 2020 more than 80% of the IoT supplier revenue will be derived from services. IIoT represents a significant market opportunity for industrial manufacturers to improve their operational productivity and the performance of machines they sell to customers.

Human productivity is also an area that has huge potential for improvement thanks to IIoT-related services. I recently attended an event hosted by theInternational Business Congress (IBC) and heard a figure quoted on “wrench time” for field operators. It said that in a 10 hour shift a worker spends only 2.5 hours of that shift on productive work – work that adds value to the business – the rest of the time is taken by looking for information – probably travelling back and forth to a central maintenance office presumably searching filing cabinets looking for service manuals, along with admin work and various other non-value add tasks. This is a very interesting figure because it means that the worker is only actively productive for 25% of his time!

IIoT from a services standpoint will have several key benefits for our field worker, his boss, the business and its suppliers.

Firstly, technology vendors and suppliers will increasingly be called on to deliver their knowledge and expertise to their customers as a service. This means sites can outsource some of their maintenance. For example a facility that is trying to downsize its staff can rely on its suppliers to monitor critical equipment health via secondary sensors and upload data to the cloud. This can be very useful for complicated high performance machinery because the vendor is, in fact, likely to be the expert in the operation of the equipment. It also means that the business does not need to directly employ a specialised, and highly paid, member of staff to wait around and fix an issue when it arises. Alternatively, if a company does want in house specialists and has multiple sites, they can hire one expert who, through the use of IIoT can, monitor critical equipment at multiple sites.

Secondly, IIoT and related services will improve the efficiency of staff in the field no matter their age or experience level. We refer to this as the augmented operator and it can be illustrated through this simple analogy: if a 55 year old operator walks by a machine that is making a funny noise he may well know from experience exactly what the issue is and how to solve the problem. Contrast that with the new 25 year old operator who, without the aid of mobility devices, has to go back to the maintenance office to look for the manual of the equipment and, when he can’t find it, start ringing around to find someone who is experienced with the equipment. Going forward, the 25 year old will be able to pull the manual and troubleshooting charts up on his mobile device. Some newer equipment even has the capability to flash a dynamic QR code directly on the device allowing the operator to access real time information on the problem the equipment is experiencing, which helps the operator diagnose and solve the issue much more quickly.

Thirdly, on the customer side, IIoT will assist in the management of the maintenance supply chain by making it easier to track spare parts and inventory levels, and simplifying the ordering process. From the vendor side this represents an opportunity to build new service revenue streams by creating such digitized services – including digitized options for ordering manuals and spare parts and putting in place models to monetise the knowledge, advice and best practice of its own employees for greater customer service.

Finally, IIoT services will make the “great crew change” a less scary transition. Similar to my points above on worker efficiency and productivity, as we move from experienced operators to the next generation there are two telling statistics about aging workforce:

  1. 50% of all refinery staff will retire in the next 5 to 7 years[1]
  2. The millennial generation will be the largest generation in the workforce by 2025[2]

So in a short period of time digital natives will make up the majority of the workforce. This means moving from an average workforce age of 50+ to a new guard of 20 somethings who have vastly less experience and very different working practices. Bridging this gap will require digital tools to not only capture the knowledge of older workers before they retire, but also make it available to the new generation in a way that supports their preference for digital work practices – tools such as augmented reality applications, dynamic QR codes and access to easy online support.

What unique services have you developed or experienced with the advent of IIoT?

[1] http://articles.economictimes.indiatimes.com/2013-04-02/news/38218078_1_oil-gas-aging-workforce-hr-manager

[2] http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2015/05/11/millennials-surpass-gen-xers-as-the-largest-generation-in-u-s-labor-force/

About the Author

Greg Conary is Schneider Electric’s Senior Vice President of Strategy. In this role he is responsible for the strategic planning activities for the company’s Industry Business. Greg joined Schneider Electric in 2014 through the acquisition of Invensys. Prior to the acquisition he was the head of global business development for the Invensys systems business and was a leader on the integration of the company with Schneider Electric. In his capacity as head of Business Development, Greg was responsible for developing and executing growth strategies related to licensing, partnerships and distribution agreements around the globe. Throughout his career with Invensys Greg held various positions across the automation business in key account management, strategy, planning, M&A and in the CEO’s office. Prior to joining Invensys, Greg worked for the Ethyl Corporation where he held a series of senior positions in R&D, technical support and global accounts. Greg is a chemist by training and holds a Bachelor of Science from the University of Southern Illinois and a Ph.D. from the University of New Mexico. He is a resident of the UK and a dual US and UK national.

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What options do you have for remotely monitoring Water and Fluids with Industrial IoT sensor telemetry?

IIoT or Industrial IoT (Internet of Things) is everywhere. It’s across all industries, from high tech transport, to natural resources and governments. IIoT software and hardware is deployed for numerous, varying applications, and it’s critical to understand just what the customer needs. Especially since the customer can’t always articulate exactly what the remote monitoring and sensor telemetry should do. According to a study performed by Verizon: the worldwide Internet of Things market spend will grow from $591.7 billion in 2014 to $1.3 trillion in 2019. That’s tremendous.

One of the areas that we’ve seen recent growth is water and fluid monitoring. Water comes to us as a life sustaining asset and also as a force of destruction. The utility of water needs to be measured and monitored in order to effectively and efficiently use our greatest natural resource. Similarly, monitoring the destructive force of water can be just as important. Let’s talk about the different ways that you can measure and monitor water!

 

Flow Meters

Flow meters calculate the amount of water that flows through them. Flow meters are everywhere from your house to your office, to anywhere and everywhere water is used. Measuring water flow is a need recognized across industries, from agriculture to commercial, pharmaceuticals, and oil and gas. Flow meters in an IIoT solution provide not only a total flow amount, but allow you to utilize real time data to predict and adjust consumption. Further still, real time analysis allows immediate recognition of catastrophic events such as a burst pipe. The analysis will be drawn out further to establish predictive failure behavior and potentially prevent massive water loss issues like the ones that happened in Los Angeles and Hollywood Hills.

 

Water Detection

Almost certainly this one is all about protecting assets. There are essentially four ways that we have used to detect presence, quantity, volume, and levels of water. Each of these fits quite well for a particular purpose. They also compliment each other nicely!

 

Presence of Water: The Rope Sensor

Rope sensors are great and they come in a variety of lengths. A rope sensor will tell you if you have water present at any point along the sensor. Imagine a large trailer with rope sensors running along the bottom of the trailer. If you have a spill in that trailer, truck, or vehicle and any fluid reaches the rope sensor, then you’ll receive an alert and immediately know there’s a problem.

Rope sensors are also great for flood detection. Because you can purchase these sensors in practically any length, you can lay them across a flood channel. If any portion of that rope sensor gets wet then you know you have water present. However, in terms of flood detection rope sensors will tell you if there is water, but they won’t tell you how much.

 

Presence of Water: Yes or No

If your rope sensor went off on a flood channel you might want to know how much water is flowing through. Depending on the lay of the land there are a number of different applications that we use to provide this information.

 

Ultrasonic, Ultrasound, Pulse, and Radar Sensors

If you have a fixed structure next to or going over a flood channel then a great solution is an ultrasonic sensor. Essentially, once the sensor is fixed in place it will continuously ping the ground. When the reading between the sensor and the ground becomes more compact, you can calculate that distance and in turn determine how much water is flowing through the channel and the flood level. Also note that radar and ultrasonic fluid level sensors are quite useful for remotely monitoring levels and volumes of liquid products in assets like tanks!

 

Pressure Transducers

Another way that we have measured quantity of water is by using a pressure transducer. A sensor with a membrane sits at the bottom of a water well, lake, or a reservoir, or a flood channel. As the water increases above the sensor so does the pressure on the sensor’s membrane. The higher the pressure the more water you have moving through!

 

Making things Digital

Water metering and water detection are now all IIoT solutions. All of these meters / sensors connect to sensor hub connector hardware that sends data out into the internets and into a cloud data analysis solution. Whether you’re monitoring agriculture / viticulture, oil / gas / mining, municipal water treatment facilities or other water plants, nowadays you can obtain a cost-effective, rapidly deployable monitoring solution.

 

 

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