Things to Consider When Retrofitting the Internet of Things to Existing Industrial Equipment
The Internet of Things, or IOT for short is already known to the public through innovative products, such as body worn fitness monitors, that record and upload data to the internet.
In the industrial sectors, such as manufacturing, new systems are being developed to replace existing infrastructure, to improve efficiency.
However, what about perfectly good existing equipment that you, as a business, do not want to replace. The answer is to retrofit equipment, to make it ‘Smart’.
It is convenient to break down the IOT process in terms of:-
Therefore retrofitting the Internet of Things….tb continued
This is the first of our videos on retrofitting the Internet of Things to existing industries, such as factories, agriculture and cities.
Lincoln Things Network Sponsorship
What is the Things Network
The Things Network is a worldwide crowd funded Internet Of Things Network, which started in Amsterdam.
It consists of sensors, such as air quality sensors that transmit data wirelessly via ‘Gateway’ devices to the Internet Cloud.
It is rapidly expanding around the world, including the UK.
Why do we need this network?
The world is undergoing rapid change in the world of work, and it has been predicted that many jobs will become automated in the coming years.
The Internet Of Things, or IOT for short, along with Virtual Reality & 3D Printing is part of this new industrial revolution.
It is therefore vitally important that we educate the current and future generations quickly, so we don’t get left behind as a nation.
The Things Network helps educate people, and lets businesses cost effectively develop new IOT products.
Where DoesThe Lincoln Network Cover
The Things Network is based on a wireless technology called LoraWAN.
As with all wireless technologies LoraWAN, which the Things Network runs on is range limited.
One of the great features of LoraWAN technology is that the signal can travel a long distance, using low power.
However as with all wireless technologies, buildings and natural objects in ‘line of sight’, will reduce the signal range.
The Things Network uses devices called ‘Gateways’ to receive the signals transmitted wirelessly from the remote sensors, and puts the data onto the web.
Currently the Lincoln Things Network has planned to install one Gateway near central Lincoln.
This should cover a large area of the City of Lincoln, but other additional Gateways may well be necessary, due to objects, reducing the signal coverage.
When will the Network be live
The components for the first Gateway device for the Lincoln Network has been ordered, and the plan is to go live by December 20th in the Lincoln area.
As the Things Network is eseentially a voluntary community effort, we welcome help from schools and local businesses.
Please get involved, as any help is appreciated.
Who is behind the Lincoln things Network
The Lincoln Things Network was initiated by Craig Miles, who can be contacted via the community page at https://www.thethingsnetwork.org/community/lincoln/
Alternatively he can be contacted via his personal website at www.craigmiles.co.uk
Going of sledging or skiing this year?
Depending on where you are going will make a difference.
For example, if you are planning a commercial event in Aviemore, in the Scottish Highlands for example, then a licenced VHF handheld might be the best option.
These licenced hand-held radios typically produce 5 Watts of RF power output, and allow reliable communication over a wide countryside area.
These radios can be hired or bought from Yesway.
The licenced radio solution however does have some drawbacks for sledging or skiing events.
The main disadvantage is that licenced radios are only licenced for your particular country, in most readers circumstances, the United Kingdom.
Therefore if you are an event company that organises events in more than one country, you might want to consider PMR446.
PMR446 is a licence free handheld radio standard, that allows usage in the European Union & EEA countries.
Therefore a sledger or skier could move between european countries without the licencing headaches of having to apply in each country for a licence.
The downside is range. PMR446 handheld radios operate at UHF (Ultra High Frequency) frequencies. These generally perform less well than VHF (Very High Frequency), in terms of maximum communication range.
Another important downside of PMR446, is that the RF (Radio Frequency) transmit power output is only 1/2 Watt (0.5 Watt). This compares with typically 5 Watts (0.5 Watts) for a licenced handheld radio.
Whilst having 10 times the power, does not mean the signal traveling 10 times further, it does give it more ‘punch’. This ‘punch’ helps get the signal through obstacles, such as trees, which ‘attenuate’ the signal.
Tips for Organising a Successful Public event
A critical consideration when organising an event is how to effectively manage your staff.
While using mobile phones & shouting may be adequate at the pre event setup stage, problems can occur during the event.
One such problem is the noise levels that can be generated during the event.
Live music events present a particular challenge, as it can be hard to hear a mobile phone ring.
It is also hard to hear what is being said by the caller.
A hand-held, or hand-portable , two-way radio can utilise accessories , such as noise canceling headsets.
Another benefit of using two-way radio for management of events, is speed.
In an emergency situation, such as an accident, two-way radio allows the emergency message to be sent straight away.
By contrast, a mobile phone would require you to select the correct number, then dial and wait for an answer.
In an emergency situation, time can make all the difference.
Once you have decided to us radio communications at your event, you have further considerations.
What some people do at this point is Google it, and then look for the cheapest price.
Once a website has been selected to click on, the questions start.
Are you sure whether a VHF or UHF system will work best?
The answer is it could be one or the other, or both, or none!
Let me explain,
Generally a VHF system will give better communication range in Open Country.
As most events are outside, you may decide this is what you want, and need.
But wait! Will you also be operating inside metal framed buildings, or multi-storey buildings, or forested areas? If this is the case, then a UHF based system might be for you.?
The best way is to have a company come out to you and properly assess and radio test the event site before the event.
This way, any ‘black spots’ in coverage can be ‘engineered out’ by making the correct equipment choices. In collaboration with your radio communications engineer, problems can be eliminated before the event.
Sometimes whether you choose VHF or UHF, neither provide acceptable radio coverage & range.
This situation demands a radio engineering approach involving a device called a radio repeater.
A radio repeater is a device that boosts the range of a radio signal.
This is done by receiving & then re-transmitting the radio signal.
The repeater is connected to a high (usually mast mounted) aerial or antenna, via a low loss coaxial cable.
Having an antenna (aerial) mounted high on a mast helps with the radio communication range.
This is because radio waves at VHF & UHF frequencies are normally ‘line of sight’.
Therefore height helps with range.
Some of the discount two-way radio hire companies will hire you a repeater, with a couple ‘clip on’ antenna.
This in theory can work, as one antenna receives the signal, and the second antenna re-transmits the signal.
However, the repeater can become ‘DE-sensitised’ if the transmit & receive antennas are not enough apart.
From what I have seen on the discount radio hire websites selling this option, the antennas do not have enough length of coaxial cable to adequately space them apart.
A DE-sensitised repeater will give poorer range.
A cheap solution therefore will not give you maximum range.
The ‘proper’ way of using a repeater is to use only one single antenna, a suitable erected mast, and a device called a ‘duplexer’.
The duplexer allows one antenna to both receive and transmit at the same time.
This clever device (duplexer) provides better range & performance than the two antenna ‘cheaper’ systems, as less likely to suffer from DE-sensitisation.
You may also be given the option to choose between Digital, and Analogue systems.
Feel free to ask about the difference.
Finally, who needs to speak to who?
For example car park attendants, first aid staff, or organisers / management.
A range of sophisticated options and channels can be programmed into the radio equipment.
Again, feel free to ask for help.
To book equipment for an event click HERE