The proliferation of inexpensive embedded electronics and ubiquitous wireless internet connectivity is helping to usher in an era of widespread remote monitoring and control of industrial operations. This concept, popularly referred to as the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), promises organizations opportunities to harvest significant efficiency savings by allowing plant operators to continually monitor and adjust the operating parameters of plant equipment.
And it is not just newly constructed factories or industrial operations that stand to benefit from the innovations enabling the growth of the IIoT. Self-contained solutions, such as Digi’s Connect Sensor+, allow existing plants to retrofit their current industrial equipment with smart, battery-operated, cellular-connected devices that are easy-to-install and connect to a variety of cloud-based services.
Tankfull is an IIoT demonstration platform that leverages Digi hardware and Medium One’s end-to-end IoT infrastructure. The demonstration platform uses the actual electronic hardware and Internet of Things (IoT) cloud software that supports real-world remote monitoring and control of industrial equipment across the globe.
Tankfull consists of two water tanks equipped with submersible liquid pumps and liquid-level sensors. The demonstration platform enables an operator to control the flow of water between the two tanks. Digi Connect Sensor+ continuously monitors four parameters. The first two parameters are the liquid level of both the two tanks. The tank #1 sensor connects to Digi Connect Sensor+ analog input AIN1 while the tank #2 sensor connects to Digi Connect Sensor+ analog input AIN2. Both sensors are configured as high-level alarms where 0VDC indicates no alarm triggered and 5VDC indicates the alarm has triggered due to high water level in the tank. Tankfull also monitors the status of the pumps. Digi Connect Sensor+ AIN3 monitors the tank #1 pump and AIN4 monitors the tank #2 pump. A measurement of 12VDC indicates the pump is running at full speed and 0VDC indicates the pump is off.
By popping a SIM card into Digi Connect Sensor+ and updating a few configuration settings, the Digi device begins to transmit telemetry sent over the internet to cloud-based Digi Remote Manager where you can make further adjustments, such as adjusting the interval at which reports are sent or adjusting the voltage levels of the Digi Connect Sensor+ power pins. Once the data is securely stored in the cloud, you can remotely generate and access logs, alerts, and analytic dashboards via a desktop browser or mobile applications built for Android or iOS. Furthermore, you can monitor an entire fleet of geographically diverse Tankfull demonstration units from a single, easy-to-use interface, which is a massive productivity boon for small operations and maintenance staff responsible for globe-spanning facilities. Lastly, you are not limited to just using the Digi Remote Manager web application for monitoring Digi hardware. A robust Application Programmer Interface (API) allows system developers to access, collect, and analyze telemetry sent from Digi edge devices. These cloud connectors make it possible to create customized IoT applications and services by building a seamless, virtual pathway from the edge hardware through Digi Remote Manager. Integrators can then connect to many popular third-party cloud-based IoT management and analytics platforms such as Medium One.
Tankfull demonstrates the possibilities available for organizations that embrace emerging IIoT technologies and services. Smart, self-contained, cellular-enabled hardware combined with cloud-based analytics and visualization services help plant operators and offer greater insights than would otherwise be possible. Ultimately, IIoT technology frees up resources and gives staff actionable data for use in making better-informed decisions. Your team can focus their energies on higher-order work such as determining ways to optimize plant operations instead of manually tracking down data points.
Tankfull is a collaborative effort of Digi, Medium One, Mouser Electronics, and Green Shoe Garage and was featured at the 2020 Consumers Electronics Show.
Michael Parks, P.E. is the co-founder of Green Shoe Garage, a custom electronics design studio and embedded security research firm located in Western Maryland. He produces the Gears of Resistance Podcast to help raise public awareness of technical and scientific matters. Michael is also a licensed Professional Engineer in the state of Maryland and holds a Master’s degree in systems engineering from Johns Hopkins University.
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