IoT trends in industry and logistics
12 January 2018
In order to implement the solution in the factory, the competent person responsible for the operation of the company must have a good reason. Usually, there are several factors that lead to innovation. It is not surprising that one of the main reasons are economic savings and return on investment up to several years. Another reason for introducing a new solution is the "cleverness" of this solution. By capturing the various parameters of production tools or environments, you can better understand whether the work is performed under the right conditions and with the best use of resources. It is possible to find out how effectively the individual workers work, whether they use the right tools for the task, and possibly get suggestions for improvement from the "smart" system. Such a system can evaluate when it is necessary to maintain the tool in order to prevent its destruction, this returns us to the financial savings of the implementing of IoT into production.
To imagine how IoT works in an action, we can give examples that have been working in real-life practice for a long time and are fulfilling what IoT offers.
Pneumatic tools, such as grinders, operate thanks to compressed air. They do not need any electricity for running because the drive is provided with compressed air. So how can we expect from such a tool some "cleverness" by integrating it into IoT? However, nowadays, there is no exception to using the so-called "energy harvesting" solution Energy harvesting can get enough electrical energy from virtually any moving energy for a wireless communication that is suitable for transmitting state information about the instrument. From tools, it is possible to obtain information on how long it operates, how much compressed air has been used, whether the components inside the grinder - e.g. bearings - do not need to be replaced, etc. From the device monitoring application, you can obtain data, how a worker works with a given tool, how he is doing in comparison with colleagues, and whether some adjustments to his habits would be appropriate. With the ability to anticipate problems based on long-term tracking, it is possible to plan regular maintenance and save tens of thousands for destroying the entire tool.
The solution consists of a pneumatic tool equipped with an electric power generator. The electric energy is generated by using electromagnetic induction by rotation of the magnet around the coil. Thanks to the acquired power, it is possible to transfer information to the central application using the IQRF wireless technology. An online dashboard is available to view information about tools, values of all tracked parameters, including usage history and status, worker information and how to work, including comparisons.
Another use case of IoT utilization in the industry is to monitor the movement of forklifts in production halls. Monitoring is possible thanks to the locators installed in the forklifts and readers in the production hall with which the forklifts communicate wirelessly, or thanks to the GPS location if the forklifts leave enclosed areas. Route information for individual forklifts is then transferred to the central application.
It is possible to better analyze the efficiency of individual paths and optimize them. Because locators can also locate people with their locators in helmets, it is also possible to prevent unwanted collisions with the forklifts. This protects the health and life of workers. In addition, people can see if they have fallen from a high ground or hit their head.
If a collision occurs, an alarm is announced, both via the central application via e-mail or SMS to the controller, as well as locally in the area of the problem. In the vicinity of the worker who has been injured, which was detected by helmet sensors, the intensity of ambient lighting is increased, which tells other workers that there is a problem.
The system consists of the following elements:
- LOCATOR/MODUL - built-in in a safety helmet, self-powered, processor controlled and equipped with necessary sensors
- READER - optimized reader for wireless communication with locator/module and gateway
- GATEWAY - gateway for bidirectional data transfer from Ethernet to the IQRF
- SOFTWARE - the management part of the entire system including the graphical user interface
- Communication is wireless and is provided by the IQRF technology.
Effective heating of production halls
Production halls often suffer from poor temperature distributions due to their heating system and the size of the building. The IoT tools make it easy to analyze the situation and propose solutions. As an example, we could mention the production hall in Slovakia (Šala, company IN VEST). This is not only the only place where they achieved significant savings thanks to IoT. In the production halls, the situation is first analyzed by deploying wireless sensors in various parts of the hall without the need to install many kilometers of cabling. This is followed by several weeks of data collection into a central application where these are evaluated and an optimal solution for saving heating costs is proposed. It consists of both a qualified study and the solution itself that includes remote-controlled radiators connected to a central application. This way you can monitor and control the heating in the hall. The company providing the solution can guarantee a return on investment based on its analysis and the proposed solution, thanks to heating savings. This was 2.5 years in this particular case.
The solution for detecting air parameters and controlling the heaters consists of two parts which cooperate with each other.
It is a MAG CB control panel that can be connected to heaters, lights, pumps or servo motors. It contains 3-4 relays (5A-10A / 230VAC), 1-2 digital inputs or other components as required.
The second part of the MAG ME is a sensor board ready for connection to various types of sensors such as temperature, humidity sensors or gas, pressure and lighting detectors.
Communication is wireless and is provided by the IQRF technology.
Defrosting coal wagons for a thermal power plant
Let's move from the production halls to the thermal power plant. Smart monitoring and control, one of the IoT main tasks, ensures proper fuel preparation. To be specific, let's show an example from practice. In Slovakia in the ENO thermal power plant Nováky they used hot air tunnels for coal defrosting even several years ago. Coal is used for the production of heat and electricity in the area of Prievidza. Thawing is necessary especially during the winter when the coal needs to be fed to the power plant but has frozen during transportation in the wagons. Frequently, condensed vapor or water is also accumulated in the transported coal, mainly in the lower parts of the wagons, and thus it requires more defrosting in these lower parts. Since the system was at the end of its lifetime and furthermore, it was not very effective, an innovative solution involving IoT has been designed. Infrared emitters have been installed along and under wagons in the defrosting tunnels. The temperature of the incoming wagons and the air parameters are monitored, these values are transferred to the control application and the whole thawing process is optimized based on the input data.
The thawing system consists of 450 infrared radiators with a power of 3.6 kW and 108 radiators with a power of 1.2 kW. The total input power is 1.8 MW. The emissivity of the emitters is 0.97. The radiators are controlled by an automatic RS AGS system that controls thawing based on input values obtained from sensors in wagons and outdoor environments. The defrosting time is calculated for each set. After thawing, the wagons are placed in tempered tunnels where 36 radiators with the power of 3.6 kW and power input of 129 kW are heated from the sides. The system has protective features to ensure safe operation and reporting in the event of failure of any of the radiators. The data is transferred to the control application wirelessly using the IQRF technology.
Control of a tilt and a spin speed of cooling turbine blades in a nuclear power plant
Stay for a while at power plants. Specifically, let's review the solution in the Jaworzno III nuclear power plant in Poland. The task was to develop a reliable wireless water flow management system using water turbines that are used for controlling reactor cooling. The unreliability of cable infrastructure has led to a decision to implement wireless transmission. Information on the tilt and spin speed of the blades in the turbine is transmitted to the central system where they are evaluated. The system is thus able to adapt the flow rate of the pump depending on the need for reactor cooling.
The SIG-BPS-01 system allows continuous control of the turbine blades rotation locally and remotely from the control room. Blade tilt and spin speed information are sent wirelessly using the IQRF technology. Two IQRF wireless modules have been integrated into the rotor for greater reliability. Each module sends data twice using two different channels.
In order for the individual cases to become a trend, a certain amount of time must pass, solutions must become well-known and popular. At this point, there is a clear change in the mind of many managers in various industry areas, both to save production costs often associated with input energy and to monitor the state of work tools, as well as to improve the working environment of employees, resulting in better work results. New tools from the field of the Internet of Things are used for this. It is expected that similar cases will be used more frequently in other areas as well, new monitoring and control applications will be created and will provide more and more specific input data for the various sensors to better predict future status.
For these and many other specific applications implemented in the Czech Republic and abroad, you can come and take a look at one of the biggest IoT events in Central Europe - the IQRF Summit 2018 (www.iqrf.org/summit2018).