8power named by Gartner as a Cool Vendor in IoT Thingification

8power is delighted to announce that it has been named by Gartner as a Cool Vendor in the May 2020 Cool Vendors in IoT Thingification report. (Gartner “Cool Vendors in IoT Thingification,” Bill Ray, et al, 14 May 2020)

 

8power Gartner Cool Vendor

 

Said Paul Egan, CEO of 8power, “We are thrilled to be named a Cool Vendor by Gartner.  Our innovative energy harvesting sensors are designed to help industry improve efficiency, save money and reduce carbon footprint.  In our view, this Gartner recognition validates our vision of helping water companies overcome resource limitations to diagnose problems with motorised assets early, reducing downtime and catastrophic failure.

 

We believe that the problem of powering systems in the field at low cost, efficiently and for extended periods has remained unsolved. Wired power is an option but comes with the costs and reliability of installing cables in an industrial environment.

 

Batteries provide an alternative power solution and are good in certain applications. What is really needed is a renewable power source that can operate maintenance free, for up to 10 years. 8power delivers this with its energy harvesting sensors.”

 

As Gartner states in the report “replacing batteries is expensive, and scales badly, so techniques to reduce power consumption, and exploit additional sources of power, are critical. We believe that the added benefit is that there are no wires to deal with, making installation and maintenance easier.  Furthermore, the sensors use a rechargeable cell that contains a significantly lower level of lithium than single use primary cell.”

 

The report further states, “this year we have selected Cool Vendors which can help create viable projects by reducing operational costs, pushing intelligence to the very edge of the network, and providing enough power to keep it operational at any scale.”

 

Gartner outlines in the report that “even where the ambient resources aren’t sufficient to provide all the energy needed, harvested power can be usefully harnessed. A recharging battery can, for example, allow intermittent use powered by constant harvesting. Battery life can also be significantly extended by constant topping up, reducing the frequency with which replacements are needed.”

 

The business model and return on investment is compelling — the cost of replacing batteries can be measured against the cost of the energy-harvesting hardware.  Sensor technology eliminates costly shocks and surprises and helps extend the shelf life of capital equipment.  In the water industry machines can be run for too long leading to replacement costs in the £millions.  Sensors keep on eye on assets and help diagnose issues early leading to early intervention and reduced downtime and costs.  The technology does not just improve asset monitoring and maintenance but can be seen as a financial planning tool.

 

One company that 8power has been working with is Severn Trent.  In a pilot project, a sensor detected a fault with the housing around a bearing casing.  8power technology enabled the company to take action early, saving it £462,000.

 

With greater intelligence, powered from ambient energy sources and designed to take maximum advantage of the required result, there are very few instances where IoT thingification can’t deliver an effective (and demonstrable) return on investment according to Gartner.

 

Gartner subscribers can view the full Cool Vendors in IoT Thingification report here.

 

Gartner “Cool Vendors in IoT Thingification,” Bill Ray, et al, 14 May 2020

 

The Gartner COOL VENDOR badge is a trademark and service mark of Gartner, Inc. and/or its affiliates and is used herein with permission. All rights reserved. Gartner does not endorse any vendor, product or service depicted in its research publications, and does not advise technology users to select only those vendors with the highest ratings or other designation. Gartner research publications consist of the opinions of Gartner’s Research & Advisory organization and should not be construed as statements of fact. Gartner disclaims all warranties, expressed or implied with respect to this research, including any warranties of merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose.

 

For more information about 8power harvesting sensors, please contact us.

8power & Severn Trent Condition Monitoring Project receives Highly Commendable Status in Industry Water Award

8power and Severn Trent Water are delighted to have been awarded Highly Commendable Status in the WWTOnline Water Industry Awards in the category “Most Innovative Use of Existing Technology”.

 

Project Delivers Substantial Savings

 

8power has completed a successful project with Severn Trent at its Thermal Hydrolysis Plant (THP) at Minworth wastewater treatment works. The pilot delivered substantial cost savings.  As a result, a new maintenance regime has been developed at the £60 million plant utilising 8power’s “Fit & Forget” technology.  The system monitors asset health and usage to flag anomalies or changing trends enabling a more proactive maintenance approach.  During the pilot, 8power’s system identified an asset that had random impact forces enabling Severn Trent Water to remedy the situation and save thousands of pounds.

 

Said Alan Butcher, Strategic Maintenance Manager of Severn Trent’s Bioresources team,

 

“Working with 8power and Severn Trent Innovation team we have been monitoring the health of a few of our critical assets. Looking at the data, we had found one of our assets had random impact forces. If this had been a fault with the asset, the impacts would always be present. So this triggered a question. What is going on? The 8power system identified an issue with the pin and the pump housing. The fault was rectified instantly and a plan to replace the damaged housing in the March shutdown is in place. If we had not detected the problem, the assets would have destroyed itself without any indication. A great find and a huge costly maintenance plan of £462,000 avoided.”

 

Reducing carbon footprint with energy harvesting sensors

 

The 8power end to end system comprises sensors that deliver data to the cloud that can then be integrated with existing software systems through an Application Programming Interface (API).  A unique feature of 8power sensors is when the sensor is mounted on a pump or motor, the vibration from the asset operation is converted into electrical energy. This renewable energy source powers the sensors and wireless system and eliminates battery changes for up to 10 years. It is therefore much cleaner than other sensor systems and will also help water companies to mitigate the costs and risk of unplanned maintenance. Unplanned maintenance and downtime can cost £18,000 a minute. The technology can therefore deliver substantial cost savings . Data can be delivered directly to mobile devices via an app or to desktop computers.

 

Peace of mind with regard to network resilience and asset availability

 

The system gives peace of mind as it can detect changes in vibration, temperature and humidity, delivering data insights to enable companies to help prioritise maintenance issues across the estate of assets. Other benefits include reducing downtime and repair costs as well as increasing network resilience and asset availability to meet regulatory targets for Outcome Delivery Incentive (ODI) payments.

 

The data obtained during this pilot evidenced hard financial benefits of using a ‘fit and forget’ style proactive condition monitoring approach. Given this, the Bioresources team are now reviewing potential larger deployments based on criticality and asset health registers.  Additionally, following successful trial results, the Severn Trent Innovation team is now also collaborating with other areas of the business to review potential deployment on various asset classes.

 

For more information about 8power harvesting sensors, please contact us.

8power completes successful remote condition monitoring trial with Anglian Water

8power is pleased to announce that it has completed a successful remote condition monitoring trial with Anglian Water.  The trial used sensors and analytic services on some large water pumping assets. The next stage of the project will see multiple Anglian Water sites monitored with the latest generation of 8power sensors

 

Innovation is at the core of Anglian Water’s strategy

 

East Anglia is one of the driest regions in the country. Anglian Water is investing in projects to improve its infrastructure and its resilience to drought. Innovation is at the core of its strategy to deploy sustainable practices that lead to reduced carbon footprint and increased efficiencies. 

 

8power showcased within the Anglian Water Shop Window innovation hub

 

In 2018, 8power technology was showcased within the Anglian Water Shop Window innovation hub. The ‘Shop Window’ is a core component of Anglian Water’s ‘Love Every Drop’ strategy.  It is aimed at driving innovation to transform its business through collaboration across partner alliances, amongst its supply chain, and with its customers in a live environment across the entire water cycle. To date, it has worked with over 150 partners on over 130 projects, with those successful ideas being scaled up and implemented across Anglian Water. 

 

8power collaborates with Anglian Water to develop a sensor system that monitors asset health

 

8power has been working in collaboration with Anglian Water to develop a sensor system that monitors asset health. The system monitors usage and flags events or changing patterns.  This enables a more proactive maintenance approach. 

The 8power end to end system comprises sensors that deliver data to the cloud.  The data can then be integrated with existing software platforms through an API. The system gives peace of mind as it can detect changes in vibration, temperature, and humidity.  It delivers data insights to Anglian Water to prioritise the issues that should be addressed first.

 

Benefits to include a better understanding of asset operation, reducing downtime and repair costs

 

Other benefits include reducing downtime and repair costs, helping Anglian Water meet its regulatory targets, set by the regulator OFWAT. The data obtained during the pilots has helped Anglian Water better understand asset operation and prioritise the most critical network assets and put in place a proactive style condition monitoring approach. 

 

Anglian Water to trial energy harvesting sensors

 

8power will be working with Anglian Water to refine the development of its energy harvesting sensors which will be trialed later this year. These wireless sensors are self-powered and designed to be more sustainable and longer lasting than battery powered sensors.

Said Rich Fielding, Hydraulic Operations Engineer, “We see an opportunity to improve efficiency and the service we provide to our customers by shifting to condition based maintenance regimes with solutions such as 8Power’s. The self-powered design being progressed by 8Power is an attractive feature that distinguishes them from other solutions.”

 

For more information about 8power harvesting sensors, please contact us.

Wireless technologies suitable for IoT applications

There are many types of wireless technologies suitable for IoT applications.  This blog article outlines them and explains which applications are suitable for which technologies.  It also looks at the issue of standards and how these affect the roll out and reliability of the technologies.  You will also find out information about the wireless technology chosen for the 8power harvesting sensors.

 

Remote condition monitoring

 

1. LPWANs

Low Power Wide Area Networks (LPWANs) are the recent development specifically designed for the requirements for IoT. Generally these wireless systems provide long-range communication.  They use low cost, low power radios and, inexpensive batteries that aim to last for years.  This type of technology can support large-scale IoT networks sprawling over vast industrial and commercial campuses.

 

However, like all things in life, not all LPWANs are created equal. The main difference to consider is operating in either the licensed spectrum (Cellular, NB-IoT, LTE-M) or unlicensed spectrum (LoRa, Sigfox, Ingenu etc.). There are pros and cons for each approach and offer varying degrees of performance in key network factors. For instance, power consumption is a significant issue for cellular-based, licensed LPWANs. Quality-of-Service, coverage and scalability are main considerations when adopting unlicensed technologies.

 

Security is an important consideration for use of this technology.  Both NB-IoT and LTE-M derive from the LTE authentication and encryption security features making them more secure than many WLAN systems.

 

Unlicensed LPWANs are restricted in how often the radios can transmit as the spectrum is shared. These systems are suitable for supporting a wide range of applications.  These include remote monitoring, smart metering and worker safety to building controls and facility management. However, as LPWANs can only send small blocks of data at a low rate, they are therefore better suited for use cases that don’t require high bandwidth and are not time-sensitive.

 

Standardization is another important factor to think of if you want to ensure reliability, security, and interoperability in the long run. Selecting the best wireless technology for your IoT applications, requires an accurate assessment of bandwidth, QoS, security, power consumption and network management.

 

2.  Cellular (4G and 5G)

 

In the consumer mobile markets, cellular networks operating over 4G offer broadband communication supporting voice calls and video streaming applications. However, they are quite costly.  They have significant power requirements and indoor coverage partially in industrial environments can be challenging. They do however make an excellent choice as back haul from an LPWAN system.  Ultimately IoT data needs to be delivered over the Internet with 4G being the best choice for bandwidth, scalability and interoperability globally.

 

5G has received both good and not so good press coverage recently.  The technology promises high-speed mobility support and ultra-low latency.  It is positioned to be the future of autonomous vehicles and augmented reality.  Latency or round-trip time for communications in 5G should be ten times less than in 4G, making it the obvious choice for time critical applications such as public safety, connected health and some industrial deployments.

 

The industry standards group 3GPP chose the 5G NR (New Radio) standard together with LTE as their proposal for submission to the IMT-2020 standard and offers significant increase gigabit per second in both upload & download speeds.

 

3. Zigbee and Other Mesh Protocols

 

Zigbee is a short-range, low-power, wireless standard (based on IEEE 802.15.4), commonly used to extend coverage by relaying sensor data over multiple sensor nodes. Compared to LPWAN, Zigbee provides higher data rates, but at the same time, much less power-efficiency due to mesh configuration.

 

Because of their physical short-range (< 100m), Zigbee is best-suited for medium-range IoT applications with an even distribution of nodes in close proximity. Typically, Zigbee is a complement to Wi-Fi for various home automation use cases like smart lighting, HVAC controls, security and energy management, etc. – leveraging home sensor networks.

 

4. Bluetooth and BLE

 

In the area of Wireless Personal Area Networks, Bluetooth is a short-range communication technology used commonly in the consumer marketplace. Bluetooth Classic was originally intended for point-to-point or point-to-multipoint (up to seven slave nodes) data exchange among consumer devices. The original target application was cable replacement for PC peripherals such as printer, mice & keyboards.

Bluetooth Low-Energy or BLE is widely integrated into fitness and medical wearables (e.g. smartwatches, glucose meters, pulse oximeters, etc.) as well as Smart Home devices (e.g. door locks) – whereby data is conveniently communicated to and visualized on smartphones. The inherent low power design of BLE makes it an ideal choice for these kinds of consumer applications as it also allows interoperability with mobile devices and gateways.

The latest versions Bluetooth and BLE are suitable for many industrial IoT applications as they have lower power consumption and extended range mode. Bluetooth™ 5/Bluetooth Low Energy works very well in situations where sensors are deployed for extended period and battery changes are to be avoided. The big advantage is vastly improved power consumption and reduced communication requirements done by simplifying the protocol and allowing the devices to skip connection intervals to conserve battery when not needed. It is also one of the least expensive IoT technologies to use.

 

5. Wi-Fi

 

Wi-Fi, given its critical role in providing high-throughput data transfer for both enterprise and home environments is widely available. However, for IoT applications, its major limitations in coverage, scalability and power consumption make the technology much less prevalent.

 

Wi-Fi is energy intensive so therefore often not a feasible solution for large networks of battery-operated IoT sensors, especially in industrial IoT and smart building scenarios. Instead, it is more suitable for connecting devices that can be conveniently connected to power outlets like smart home gadgets and appliances.

 

Wi-Fi 6, the newest Wi-Fi generation brings in greatly enhanced network bandwidth (i.e. <9.6 Gbps) to improve data throughput per user in congested environments. The new standard is poised to improve customer experience with new digital mobile services in retail and mass entertainment sectors. Also, in-car networks for infotainment and on-board diagnostics are expected to benefit from the use of Wi-Fi 6. Roll out will likely take time as infrastructure is not replaced regularly.

 

6. RFID

 

Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) uses radio waves to transmit small amounts of data from an RFID tag to a reader within a very short distance. The technology has been used in retail and logistics sectors.

 

By attaching an RFID tag to all sorts of products and equipment, businesses can track their inventory and assets in real-time, allowing for better stock and production planning as well as optimized supply chain management. Alongside increasing IoT adoption, RFID continues to be entrenched in the retail sector, enabling new IoT applications like smart shelves, self-checkout, and smart mirrors.

 

8power Harvesting Technology

 

The one remaining challenge in all IoT deployments is that of power. Even the most frugal of sensors will still be limited by the onboard battery capacity. In most cases adding more bigger batteries will not solve the problem as batteries degrade over time even when not used and temperature has a massive impact of cell capacity & system leakage.

 

wireless applications suitable for IoT

 

To address this problem in the industrial IoT space 8power sensors can use energy harvesting to generate their own power from the vibration found in rotating machinery. This power is stored locally in a small rechargeable cell and is used to drive the sensors, processor and is wireless. The benefit of this approach is that these high performance sensors  can be considered as “Fit & Forget” for up to 10 years.

 

Many of 8power customer sites are remote so coverage is key too.  We typically will have many sensors on a single site so using a gateway to aggregate traffic is more efficient because we can put more intelligence into the gateway. Edge processing the data also allows the system to  reduce the cellular data sent to the cloud reducing costs and only needing one SIM and contract to manage.

 

For more information about 8power harvesting sensors, please contact us.

8power to host Fix Before Fail interactive webinar

 

Deritend, 8power and Engineering consultant Robert Peggs to show water companies how to Fix Before Fail in interactive webinar on remote condition monitoring and smart maintenance

 

8power, Deritend and Bob Peggs, an Engineering Consultant are to hold an interactive webinar at 2pm, 28th May 2020 on How to Fix Before Fail with Remote Condition Monitoring and Smart Maintenance.  Attendees will learn how intelligence led decision making through sensors can be delivered.  They will also learn about quick fix solutions available before machines are run too long, break and cost millions of pounds to replace.

 

Machine with sensors

 

Attendees will learn about:

  • How Fix Before Fail can be achieved through remote condition monitoring and smart maintenance
  • Water companies’ issues and priorities regarding maintenance at this current time
  • Typical cost savings that can be achieved
  • How water companies can respond to the changing climate, enabling better remote working
  • Innovative developments to help reduce energy and carbon footprint

 

The interactive webinar will include audience feedback and the opportunity to ask, answer questions and chat with peers.

 

COVID – 19 has fundamentally changed the way we work and this webinar will help attendees learn how they can monitor critical assets and Fix Before Fail all whilst operating with a reduced workforce and on site visits.  This interactive webinar will introduce attendees to the concepts of remote condition monitoring and smart maintenance so that they can understand how they can remedy assets before they break and use preventative and predictive maintenance programmes.

 

Paul Egan, CEO of 8power will show attendees how sensors can deliver powerful insights to help make smarter decisions and deploy staff more effectively.  He will also talk about typical costs savings that have been gained by some of 8power’s customers. 

 

deritend

 

Paul will be joined by Richard Hale, Managing Director of Deritend and Bob Peggs to talk about how the total cost of ownership at pump, station and full network optimisation, has been successfully deployed across a number of industries.

 

Register for the webinar to learn about how to be to more efficient and how running machines to the ground, risking over £1 million in extra costs can be avoided.

Enabling remote working through remote condition monitoring

How can water companies enable effective remote working through remote condition monitoring?

How can they minimise maintenance visits through remote condition monitoring?

Keeping staff and customers safe means that remote working has become the new normal during the COVID-19 crisis.  Companies are having to rise to the challenge of remote working.  They have concerns whether they can be as effective as when they were going to their offices, plants and factories.  Engineers are concerned that maintenance programmes could be delayed.  The subsequent effects could include increased failure rates and increased cost of repairs and maintenance.

 

Enabling remote working through remote condition monitoring

 

Organisations are being asked to limit site work but still need to ensure that assets continue to operate properly. 

How can this be possible without regular in-person site visits?

But some water companies are actually finding that they can be more effective by using remote condition monitoring.

What is remote condition monitoring?

Remote condition monitoring is a system of sensors that provides information about how an asset is performing. The collected data, such as vibration or temperature can be processed and results sent wirelessly to help answer questions like:

  • Does this asset need maintenance?
  • Which assets should I prioritise first?
  • Where should I deploy my maintenance staff and when?
  • Should the asset be refurbished or replaced?

How 8power is enabling more effective remote working

8power is working with customers to provide regular, real-time assets condition information to operational managers and field engineers who cannot be on-site at this time. The easy to read information includes key performance indicators and operational insights.

 

Remote condition monitoring

 

To help maintain continuous operations, customers can carry out remote condition monitoring of critical assets.  The data reveals insights that mitigate risk to those assets.  Customers can also save money on downtime and capital investment.  This is because sensors can detect small problems that can be quickly fixed, before developing into more serious issues or even catastrophic failure.

Seven Trent achieves cost savings and more effective remote working

One customer, Severn Trent recently took part in a pilot with 8power at its Thermal Hydrolysis Plant (THP) at Minworth sewage treatment works. The pilot delivered substantial cost savings and enabled more effective remote working through condition monitoring.  As a result, a new maintenance regime has been developed at the £60million plant utilising 8power’s “Fit & Forget” technology.  The system monitors asset health and usage to flag anomalies or changing trends enabling a more proactive maintenance approach.  During the pilot, 8power’s system identified an asset that had random impact forces enabling Severn Trent Water to remedy the situation and save thousands of pounds.

Said Alan Butcher, Strategic Maintenance Manager of Severn Trent’s Bioresources team,

“Working with 8power and Severn Trent Innovation team we have been monitoring the health of a few of our critical assets. Looking at the data, we had found one of our assets had random impact forces. If this had been a fault with the asset, the impacts would always be present.

So this triggered a question. What is going on? The 8power system identified an issue with the pin and the pump housing. The fault was rectified instantly and a plan to replace the damaged housing in the March shutdown is in place. If we had not detected the problem, the assets would have destroyed itself without any indication. A great find and a huge costly maintenance plan of £462,000 avoided.”

Remote working, lower costs and energy saving

The 8power end to end system comprises sensors that deliver data to the cloud that can then be integrated with existing software systems.  Data can be delivered directly to mobile devices via an app or to desktop computers.

A unique feature of 8power sensors is the use of vibration energy harvesting (VEH). When attached to an asset the vibration of operation is converted into electrical power and charges a small onboard battery.  This renewable energy source powers the sensors & wireless system and eliminates sensor battery changes for up to 10 years. 

It is therefore much cleaner and greener than other sensor systems and will also help water companies to mitigate the costs and risk of unplanned maintenance. The system gives peace of mind as it can detect small and early changes in vibration, temperature and humidity, delivering data insights to enable companies to help prioritise maintenance issues across the estate of assets. Other benefits include reducing downtime and repair costs as well as increasing network resilience and asset availability to meet regulatory targets for Outcome Delivery Incentive (ODI) payments.  

The data obtained during the Severn Trent pilot evidenced hard financial benefits of using a ‘fit and forget’ style proactive condition monitoring approach. Given this, the Bioresources team are now reviewing potential larger deployments based on criticality and asset health registers.  Additionally, following successful trial results, the Severn Trent Innovation team is now also collaborating with other areas of the business to review potential deployment on various asset classes. 

Another benefit of effective remote working through remote condition monitoring is that water companies can save money and carbon footprint.  As staff are not driving to sites the number of diesel miles is reduced.

Said Paul Egan, CEO of 8power:

“Our Fit & Forget remote condition monitoring solution helps our customers to be more effective and targeted in terms of maintenance schedules than they were prior to COVID-19.  We are supporting our customers to protect their workforce, save carbon footprint and enable effective remote working, whilst reducing costs and downtime. The industry is seeing that remote is the new normal.”

Emerging cellular technologies making industrial devices securely connectable

Historically cellular communication has had minimal impact in the industrial spec where technologies such as Zigbee and WLANs have dominated the wireless communication implementations. As 5G approaches, cellular companies are looking at how cellular technologies can address some of the key challenges that have emerged with IoT devices. Internet connected devices in industrial locations have different issues to overcome compared to their more domestic counterparts.

Machine-to-Machine (M2M) communication must overcome more obstacles, both physical and environmental. Taking for example a water treatment plant – there can be physically larger distances to cover which would make the mesh network wireless solutions difficult to implement without a large amount of relay devices. This has been the motivation behind the newly emerging cellular technologies such as Narrow Band IoT (NB-IoT) and LTE-M (also known as CAT-M1).

So what do NB-IoT and LTE-M solve?

NB-IoT has been designed to cover wide areas even when devices are underground or deep within buildings. Devices are low power so they  can run on batteries for 10 years or more without needing to be replaced, creating a maintenance cost saving. National coverage is a key benefit enabling multiple locations to be covered with one technology. The majority of IoT devices only transmit or receive small amounts of data per day. NB-IoT has been designed to offer enterprise-grade solutions whilst being practical to implement, low power and most importantly, low cost. Because they use licensed spectrum bands (just like 3G & 4G) they aren’t significantly affected by congestion or interference, beneficial in industrial environments high in ambient interference.

Security is also a key feature since edge devices have been identified as potential network vulnerability points, at risk of being a hackable entrance into an enterprise network. Both NB-IoT & LTE-M derive from the LTE authentication and encryption security features making them more secure than many WLAN systems. NB-IoT mutually authenticates the network and the device and encrypts the traffic between the device and the core network.

So why have cellular technologies not been used more in the past for IoT applications?

One of the shortfalls of previous cellular technologies is power consumption. Power efficiency is dependent on the devices network reception strength and how much data is transmitted. NB-IoT & LTE-E have power efficiency as one of their core design requirements across the coverage range. Vodafone have validated that lifespans of 15 years can be achieved even at the cell edge (Source: Vodafone.com/iot/nb-iot). Since many IIoT devices are in inhospitable and often remote locations, the challenge is how to maintain these IIoT devices. The answer is self-powering devices.

8power have developed an easy to install, self-powered solution able to monitor industrial equipment such as motors, pumps and gearboxes independent of age, brand, size and model. This enables remote condition monitoring in industrial locations such as water and waste treatment plants, manufacturing locations and oil and gas plants which are often in inhospitable and remote locations. The 8power self-powered solution has no batteries and no wires making it ideal for IIoT devices. Powered by the vibration of the asset (such as motor, pump or gearbox) themselves makes it the ‘fit and forget’ solution for monitoring industrial equipment.

Using Vibration sensing in Condition Monitoring

A key driver behind the adoption of Industry 4.0 is to improve productivity and efficiency. By offering increased interoperability and information transparency a more holistic view can be obtained of industrial equipment.

The ability to continuously monitor and collate data not only gives a perspective on how the equipment is performing but also early warning of potential equipment inefficiencies or early indicators of wear which can result in an equipment fail and downtime. Having this more proactive approach not only improves efficiency and reliability of the operations but also offers cost benefits, helping a business to grow.

Predictive Maintenance is enabled through increased use of IIoT enabled pieces of equipment. It enables the scheduling of maintenance whilst the machine is still in working order to avoid a major fault resulting in downtime. Conditioning Monitoring is a key aspect of Predictive Maintenance. Condition monitoring includes the ongoing collection of data outlining the current status of the monitored equipment. Conditioning Monitoring drives the maintenance work based on the condition of the equipment and how it is performing. This enables an organisation to use their maintenance resources to focus on the pieces of equipment that need to be looked at first, offering prioritisation based on critical nature to the business and the current condition. Condition Monitoring is estimated to provide up to 15% (Source: Mordor Intelligence, March 2018) cost saving over Predictive Maintenance alone.

Motors of different sizes, shapes and powers are central to automated equipment and found in numerous places in industry. A failing or badly performing motor can not only put wear on the motor itself but also the equipment it powers. Being able to easily monitor the condition of a wide range of motors is an increasing challenge for industry. Motors all create some form of vibration as a result of their movement. The vibration and sound the motor makes are key aspects experienced maintenance people use to evaluate if a motor is performing as expected.  So being able to remotely measure the vibration profile of motors that are in unmanned remote locations, or difficult to reach pieces of equipment offers visibility on how the motors are working. A profile based on the motor working efficiently can be obtained on install and this can be compared to the current motor performance. Differences between these two profiles will flag up potential condition concerns.

8power utilises vibration not only to sense the vibration status but also to power the sensing beacon. This brings a robust solution tailored to the demanding needs of the industrial space – the ability to safely operate in high and low temperatures, a self-powered design which requires minimal maintenance. 8power offer scalable solutions that can be easily and quickly installed on motors no matter their age, brand or location – bringing an easy way of monitoring the condition of a wide range of equipment from one centralised point.

Battery Blues

To date primary cell batteries have been the most popular way to power low cost devices. However, they have limitations that have required the battery industry to look at more innovative ways of powering devices. One of the key market areas that are helping to drive small battery innovation forward is the Internet of Things (IoT).

Current battery trends in rechargeable cells require batteries to have a lower discharge rate for several reasons; to increase the length of time the charge can be held but also the ability to be trickle charged by the range of energy harvesting chargers now available.  Energy harvesting is an exciting prospect to obtain energy from the environment. This can be from solar, heat or from the device itself, through vibration. Conversely, often fast discharge functionality is also needed to support the very high currents for pulse type communications typically found in older cellular systems.

Industrial IoT (IIoT) brings it with several additional challenges. The battery technology needs to be low cost, a small physical footprint and able to operate across a range of environments. Industrial rated batteries are required operate over wide temperature ranges both high and low and typical electronics specs for the industrial space quote temperature ranges of -40°C up to 100°C or more. So the chosen battery technology needs support these ranges. But industrial locations also often have high humidity, a variety of vibrations and some are in total darkness, if they are unmanned. To add more complications, Lithium metal primary batteries are classed as dangerous goods and are restricted on flights as there can be a risk of becoming flammable in some circumstances.

For rechargeables, Lithium-ion batteries have been the main workhorse of battery technologies over recent years – however they are now experiencing additional pressures from external influences. As the number of battery powered devices increases, the issue of disposal of the batteries is becoming more of a concern. It has been recognised the current issues of disposal around plastics will soon be followed on by safe battery disposal as a key concern as more devices such as mobile phones and cars continue to increase their battery usage. Many products have benefitted from the advancement in smaller, lower-power battery technologies, as seen in the mobile phone space, but the trend here is for larger batteries to support the increased range of activities, whilst being able to maintain a day long charge.

The current poor environmental footprint of batteries, with respect to the levels of toxic metals and chemicals, is becoming more of a focus for EU regulations with more emphasis on safe disposal. More responsibility is being put back onto the battery manufacturers who are having to finance the cost of collecting, treating and recycling all collected batteries, which will ultimately put additional pricing costs on the batteries themselves. The cost of the underlying metals used are also increasing due to the rising demand from electrical and hybrid cars. A very worrying trend is the cost of Lithium itself is expected to increase x4 in the next 5 years according to the EU.

As these increasing pressures are being applied to Lithium based batteries, more companies are looking at how they can either reduce the size, or in some cases remove the battery completely from their small devices. Harvesting energy is key to turning this into a reality. There are a wide range of energy harvesting options including thermal, solar and vibration. All these aspects could be leveraged in an industrial location as more of an energy source than a hindrance. 8power is looking at how tailored solutions can be incorporated into sensing devices to maximise the power that can be harvested from the environment. Some instances such as for outside plant equipment monitoring, a small photovoltaic cell can power a wireless sensor; whereas a larger piece of rotating plant equipment can create enough vibration to power more sophisticated and much higher power systems.

There is an abundance of energy in the environment and we need to have solutions that take advantage of this. At 8power we believe that our energy harvesting eliminates the need for battery replacement and recharging. This not only makes great economic sense, it also helps the environment by reducing the cycle of metal mining and disposal. It is a true “win-win”.

Transforming water plant equipment maintenance through condition-based monitoring

Wastewater and water treatment equipment is susceptible to failure for many reasons. Equipment networks are dispersed across a wide range of locations, most are unmanned which means many of the assets tend to receive limited, structured maintenance. There are many incidents when maintenance is reactive only when a failure is reported which is always costly. Having the ability to easily monitor a wide range of industrial equipment and detect the early onset of problems increases operational efficiency and maximises the effectiveness of maintenance resources.

In water operations and particularly in wastewater, many of the remote assets such as pumps and motors are often the root cause of problems – however the problem can be identified further through the system. This can make troubleshooting difficult, costly and time consuming. Added to this, the unpredictable nature of the external environment caused by elements such as rainfall levels, debris and sewage levels can further complicate plant management. The current estimate for the cost of maintenance of wastewater treatment plants is between 15-25% of total operational costs (Source: Hamburg Public Sewage). This is dependent on the age and historical maintenance levels of the plant equipment. We have seen figures that suggest reactive maintenance is the most expensive with the cost currently estimated at £5M-£15M per annum for a UK WASC to maintain a large sewage pumping station. These figures show there is a clear need to balance the visibility of the condition of the wastewater equipment and costs of monitoring.

Normally vibration is seen as a bad thing in plant equipment and something that engineers try to remove, but it can hold a vital clue on the condition of motors, pumps and other equipment. Vibration can be utilised to give an easy to monitor source of information. Using one of the new generation of low power, multi-axis accelerometers to monitor an asset’s health via vibration you can yield lots of useful information. Just from vibration alone it is possible to record an asset’s start and stop times, its total duty cycle and its energy usage. By simple analysis of the vibration traces you can detect if the asset has been set up correctly for time of day operation. Further analysis can also show if there are signs of blockages, bearing wear, chipped gears, shaft misalignment or surface degradation. Currently it is estimated that 30% of all sewage pumping stations contain at least one blocked or restricted element of functionality creating inefficiency and excess energy usage. Being able to easily monitor the health of these remote stations will enable a more effective maintenance approach by highlighting when assets need attention. This allows asset managers and operators to prioritise and allocate maintenance resources to the most affected sites with the target to reduce reactive maintenance costs and minimize asset downtime.

8power have engineered a small footprint, self-powered, scalable, solution that enables remote condition monitoring across a fleet of water industry assets. We use vibration to power our retrofittable, wireless sensor system. Without the constraints of battery power our devices can perform much of the vibration analysis locally on the sensor using the high-performance embedded ARM processor.

We are seeing that condition monitoring of all assets is becoming a critical business need for water treatment and wastewater processing.

Currently 8power are conducting remote condition monitoring pilot programs with water companies in the UK and Europe and will be publishing the results of these later in the year.