Industrial IoT

Quality assurance with wireless and battery-free sensors

The monitoring of machines is a core aspect of quality assurance for production in the industrial sector. A great and simple way to do that is with sensors. For example, sensors can be used for quality and process monitoring or condition-based maintenance. One challenge is though that monitoring often has to be carried out in moving places and/or areas that are difficult to access. Therefore, conventional wired sensors are simply not an option. Our energy harvesting sensors offer decisive advantages for this type of application. Since they don’t require wiring or batteries, they can be mounted flexibly directly onto moving parts. You can even install them in hermetically closed environments, for example to measure the flow, pressure and temperature of liquids or gases.

Maintenance of engines, gearboxes and brakes

Machines are subject to wear and tear and therefore the early detection of problems is an important prerequisite for initiating countermeasures in time and ensuring both continuous quality assurance and protection against production downtime. A fundamental problem of maintenance planning is the calculation of the intervals between each maintenance visit. On the one hand, the timeslots between maintenance visits should be as short as possible in order to detect possible deviations before a major problem occurs. On the other hand, maintenance creates high costs because people need to be sent out for quality checks as well as possible machine downtime.

That’s where condition-based maintenance comes into play: For example, current sensors can be used to detect the condition of a motor, and temperature sensors are ideal to detect the condition of gears and brakes, because wear often leads to higher friction, which in turn leads to an increase in temperature on the machine. For this purpose, the current or temperature curve is continuously analysed, which can change as the equipment wears. Using suitable algorithms, the necessary equipment maintenance can then be carried out as needed and in time.

Maintenance-free and flexible

Due to these reasons our sensors are ideally suited for a wide range of industrial applications like factory automation, food and beverage, logistics, transportation and many more. No batteries, no wires, no maintenance, but great flexibility, maintenance-free and low-cost installation is what is needed to ensure high quality standards in any sort of industrial environment.

Use cases

Data Center & Server Rooms

Servers must be operated under certain conditions. As they tend to heat up quite quickly the server rooms always need to be cooled to a certain temperature. Wireless temperature and humidity sensors monitor not only the air quality in these rooms but also indicate when the temperature of the server cabinets is rising to prevent server breakdowns. Current meters provide transparency on the server’s power consumption and are used for predictive maintenance of the HVAC system. Where there is a cooling system, there’s also water. Water sensors immediately detect leaks and thus prevent any major server downtime. Obviously, not everybody should have access to a server room. Monitor access control with motion sensors and a QR code display and use magnet contact sensors to control the access to cabinets.

Environmental monitoring

When visitors enter Dussmann-Haus, the first thing they see is a plant wall measuring 18 meters high and 15 meters wide, which extends over five floors. Designed by the French artist Patrick Blanc, the vertical garden has around 6,700 tropical plants of 157 different species, which grow in a space of 270 square meters without any soil and using a sophisticated irrigation system. Visitors can sit right under the plant wall in a restaurant that is open to the public.

The project’s strategic goal is to modernize, automate and simplify processes. In the case of the plant wall, a variety of self-powered wireless sensors were used for this purpose. The project has noticeably reduced the amount of maintenance by the company technician when it comes to water temperature, water level and water quality. The technician now has a dashboard customized to his specific needs for maintaining the vertical garden. Since the data is collected continuously, the Dussmann facility management team is notified of critical deviations by email. This ensures the best operating climate – and not only for the plants.

Factory automation

Use our wireless sensors and battery-free radio switches to optimize factory automation processes. Position switches monitor the position of goods on lifting and rotary tables, the position of moving system components as well as adjustment processes. You can even use them to count goods in automated manufacturing systems, to control sliding guard doors or to safeguard door access. Give manual confirmation on conveyor belts and manually operated machines by using wireless and battery-free push buttons and foot switches. Monitor the vibrations of an assembly line, the inclination of a ramp or the rotation of a machine part with acceleration sensors. Temperature sensors prevent cabinets, pipes, ducts, motors, gears, brakes etc. from overheating and sensors that measure air quality help to regulate humidity and CO2 emissions. Check the filling status of liquids and production materials with weight sensors.

Food & Beverage

Especially in food and drink production hygiene and quality levels are extremely high – rightly so, of course.

Monitor production processes with the help of the IoT and our self-powered sensors: Temperature sensors control the right temperature of freezers and cooling rooms to prevent food and drinks from going off. It’s also reasonable to use magnet contact sensors that report when for example freezer doors have been left open. This would not only jeopardize the quality of the food that is stored in the freezer but would also cause unnecessary energy consumption. Current meters monitor service needs for freezers and coolers. With the help of our sensors you can also scale the filling status of boxes or bottles. Use acceleration sensors for mouse traps monitoring, equipment cleaning or refilling needs.

Of course, there are areas of application that are not limited to food & beverage. Water detectors, for example, generally prevent inventory damage through liquids as well as slips and falls of your employees and heat detectors are used for fire protection. Motion sensors regulate access control during nighttime and with the help of desk occupancy sensors you can optimize seating arrangements in any environment.

EnOcean sensors deliver the needed data for all these scenarios. Together with solutions from our partners, we help you meet all necessary requirements of high-quality food and drink production.

Logistics & Warehouse

Monitor, simplify and optimize logistic processes with EnOcean energy harvesting devices.

  • Combination of empty buttons and indicator lights for requests to refill
  • Door opener: pull switch next to a bay door or remote pushbutton at a forklift
  • Position switches detect the movement of pallets
  • Beacons with acceleration sensors detect the movement and position of goods or vehicles
  • Temperature and humidity sensors for monitoring the fluctuating air conditions caused by the frequent opening of the hall doors
  • Magnet contact sensors (open/closed status) for doors and windows
  • Motion detectors for access control
  • Water sensor to detect a broken vessel or water pipe
  • ESL for increased warehouse efficiency

Medical

Create optimal conditions in laboratories, pharmaceutical production, doctor’s offices and even hospitals with wireless sensors and battery-free switches. Temperature, humidity and light level sensors constantly monitor air quality and the amount of light to ensure an optimal environment for the production of vaccines and drugs. CO2 sensors even indicate when there is not enough fresh air in a room anymore and it’s time to ventilate. With the help of acceleration sensors you can monitor and analyse the actual usage of equipment and water sensors detect any leaks so that water damage can be prevented.

Drugs cabinets are a sensitive area that only designated personnel should have access to. Use magnet contact sensors that indicate the open/close status for the access detection to the drugs cabinet or motion detectors together with a QR code display for access control.

Battery-free foot or elbow switches make hands-free control of medical equipment possible and pushbuttons are great devices for calling doctors, nurses or assistants.

Predictive Maintenance & Metering

For predictive maintenance, many components must interact perfectly to calculate the best possible time for maintenance. The basic prerequisite are wireless sensors that collect the needed data: they provide the necessary information in real time to be able to evaluate the current condition and to show future trends. This includes, for example, deviations from standard values and trends in terms of temperature, humidity or vibration.

Possible application scenarios are:

  • Sensors measure the temperature on the cables of a fan in order to find out how long the motor will continue to run via the current flow.
  • Humidity sensors in boiler rooms monitor whether water is leaking.
  • Temperature sensors monitor pumps, brakes, gears, motors or cooling units.
  • Differential pressure sensors measure the condition of a filter.
  • Sensors measure the level of a tank by “counting” the pumping operations by detecting each current pulse that triggers a pumping operation.

The raw data from the sensors is delivered to the cloud via a gateway and visualised there for further analysis through our partners. With the digital twin of the building or industrial facility created in this way, the technical facility management recognises which products show characteristics of an imminent failure.

Process automation

Having automated processes is especially important for the areas of oil and gas works, mining, utility and offshore services. Here are some examples:

Position monitoring of various tools or caps can be done super easily with wireless sensors and battery-free switches: monitor the position of valves, fuel caps and ventilation caps to prevent any liquid from spilling over. You can also make use of position monitoring to check anytime that tools are put back to the right place – no more nerve wrecking searching for the one tool that you need. Battery-free pushbuttons are ideally suited for service calls, just put one right where you need it. EnOcean sensors also monitor the temperature of devices and signal and give a warning sign when there’s irregular operation changes in switchgear, pipes, ducts, motors or brakes. The right air quality is one aspect in process automation that often gets neglected: Just use our temperature and humidity sensors to guarantee the best air indoor.

Retail & shopping malls

Using IoT sensors and battery-free switches in the retail segment and shopping malls not only guarantees smooth processes but also increases the wellbeing of your customers.

Our battery-free and wireless pushbuttons are ideally suited for taking sales, service or emergency calls because you can put them on any counter or on walls, basically exactly where your need them. Have total visibility over your power consumption with current meters or use wireless temperature sensors to measure and monitor counter temperatures. That way you can ensure cold chain registration for coolers and freezers. With the help of temperature and humidity sensors you can easily optimize air quality and provide the best shopping environment for your customers. Activity sensors and people passing counters are a great way to optimize offering arrangements as well as to increase security. Water damage is always one of the worst case scenarios for any type of business. In many cases it takes days, sometimes even weeks or months until the water damage has been noticed, when the damage has already been done. Water sensors immediately detect leaks and can prevent water damage.

Transportation

Sensors and switches based on the EnOcean energy harvesting technology are ideally suited for transportation processes. You’ve probably pressed the stop button on a bus countless times, indicating that you have to get off the bus at the next station: that’s a perfect use case for a battery-free and wireless pushbutton. For trains and busses it would also totally make sense to have an indication which previously booked seats are actually being occupied during the ride. Wireless pressure sensors inside the seats do this job reliably: when somebody takes a seat pressure is automatically put on the sensor, indicating that somebody has actually taken the seat. Or use people activity sensors to monitor passenger distribution on busses and trains. And what about magnet contact sensors that monitor the status (open/closed) of the luggage compartments on a plane during a flight? Especially on public transport not having to rely on cabling and batteries is a great thing.

Interested? Let us talk about your industrial IoT project!

We are happy to answer any questions you may have and support you with your individual IoT solution for the industrial sector.

Please write to us at info@enocean.com.