Sensor-to-Cloud Platform Performs Next-Gen IIoT Monitoring

By Josh Schadel, SignalFire Wireless Telemetry

Cloud connectivity removes barriers in collecting data from assets located in remote locations. A new Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) cellular transmitter utilizing the latest LTE CAT M1 technology connects industrial sensors to the cloud for remote monitoring, control, and alarming from any web browser including mobile devices.

Designed to communicate with industry-standard sensor interfaces including analog and digital IO, the cellular-based transmitter, called the Ranger, connects data to the cloud.  This paradigm enables asset monitoring and control in locations previously difficult or impossible to reach.

Fig. 1: The Ranger cellular transmitter utilizes LTE CAT M1 technology to connect industrial sensors to the cloud for remote monitoring and control via any web browser.

Existing cellular data acquisition devices running on battery power and using traditional 3G/4G cellular technology are typically capable of delivering just a few data reports daily. LTE CAT M1 is designed specifically for battery-powered remote IIoT devices. Utilizing this technology, the Ranger maintains a continuous connection to the cloud to receive commands or configuration changes and support data reporting rates down to once per minute.

Connecting directly to the cloud, the Ranger cellular transmitter does not rely on any customer communications infrastructure, which can be costly and complex to install and maintain. A built-in GPS receiver reports the device location to the cloud, providing a map of all connected assets. Designed from the ground up for power efficiency, Ranger features an internal battery for continuous operation.

An Easy Solution for IIoT

While many enterprises have IIoT strategies, planning and implementation are challenging. The Ranger simplifies implementation by providing a sensor-to-cloud platform that is very easy to set up with the least amount of hardware. Plug and play, the transmitter needs no programming or hardware for a do-it-yourself experience. The use of LTE CAT M1 technology supports IoT devices by connecting directly to a 4G network, without a gateway, using the built-in batteries or optional external solar panel. 

How It Works

The Ranger node is equipped with two digital inputs, one analog input, and one relay output for remote control of pumps, valves, lights, etc. The digital inputs can detect on/off status or frequencies up to 2 kHz. The analog input can be set from 1 to 5 Vdc or 4 to 20 mA and the attached sensor is powered via the integral battery pack. The relay output is a latching double-pole single-throw type, capable of loads up to 2A at 30 Vdc, 0.3A at 110 Vac or 0.5A at 125 Vac. Furthermore, the built-in GPS allows for tracking the location of the Ranger and its measurements on a map.

Fig. 2: Inside the Ranger

The Ranger comes complete with a web and mobile-friendly SignalFire Cloud interface, which allows users to remotely monitor assets, view trends and receive alarms either by text or email. It also provides for remote configuration and troubleshooting of the Ranger node and the sensor to which it is attached.

Employing the MQTT Sparkplug protocol allows for easy integration with private cloud or SCADA platforms that support this emerging standard. The data from the Ranger will populate data tags in the SCADA system, allowing the operator to access sensor data and control Ranger’s settings and relay output.

Fig. 3: From sensor to cloud.

Markets & Applications

The Ranger platform provides application-specific solutions that are reliable as well as easy to install and maintain. For example, the Ranger can remove barriers in monitoring oil and gas pipelines in isolated areas by delivering sensor data to the cloud. Operators can track fluid levels of vast tank farms in remote locations through a cloud connection that’s accessible from any smart device. Other applications include:

  • Pipeline pressure monitoring, boost stations, ESD valve position
  • Water distribution pressure, pond levels, flow stream
  • Wellhead pressure, chemical tank level, production inventory
  • Tank farm monitoring, tank level, volume
  • Agriculture, water usage, silo level, irrigation pump control

On That Note

The platform is designed to be cost-effective and flexible to meet the needs of many industrial remote monitoring and control applications. The Ranger also has an I/O expansion card slot to further expand its on-board I/O and support additional sensor interfaces including HART and Modbus. To sum it up, Ranger is industrial sensor-to-cloud made easy.

Fig. 4: The Ranger powers the sensor and publishes data to the SignalFire Cloud or Private Cloud so users can monitor and trend their sensor data and receive email/text alarms.

To learn even more, pay a visit to the Sensor to Cloud Ranger node page. You can also take Ranger for a test drive.

About the Author

Josh Schadel serves as General Manager & Chief Technology Officer at SignalFire Wireless Telemetry. With nearly two decades of experience in high-tech instrumentation, he has a strong background in product development, embedded systems, and low-power wireless sensor networks.

He joined SignalFire in 2008, when it was a small start-up company, and was instrumental in the development of SignalFire’s successful product line and technology while serving as Director of Engineering. He may be contacted at josh.schaedel@signal-fire.com.

SignalFire Telemetry
140 Locke Dr., Suite B
Marlborough, MA 01752
978-212-2868
www.signal-fire.com
info@signal-fire.com

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