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From Bluetooth to 4G: Transforming how we capture, share and use sensor data

Sept. 16, 2021

“It has never been so easy to acquire and secure your remote data and integrate it into your systems.” Schneider Electric’s Gerrit Buntink shared how wireless technology is eliminating the physical and economic barriers common to wired devices, making it possible to add the new sensors that advance power and process intelligence. 

Wireless technology is a driving force in process automation, enabling manufacturers to gain unprecedented, actionable insights into process parameters and asset conditions. But even at this stage of adoption, common problems ensnare project managers and undermine implementations. 

Installation and maintenance of wireless devices can regularly place employees in high-risk areas. Obstructions within a facility (i.e., your assets) can block communication paths. Surveyors must be contracted to advise about where to place wireless elements. And battery-life—oftentimes not nearly as long as advertised—can thwart even the smartest wireless projects. 

The goal, whether for remote or in-plant assets, is a wireless solution with a sustainable design, one that requires minimum maintenance, is quickly deployed and offers the highest level of cybersecurity. Oh…and it would be nice if the wireless solution were economical. 

“The appeal of wireless is that it removes the physical and economic barriers common to wired devices, making it easier and more cost effective to add more measurement points,” said Gerrit Buntink, Schneider Electric director of wireless instrumentation network solutions, during his Innovation Talk that explained how advances in wireless technology—including the company’s ultra-low power 4G LTE Data Logger, Instrumentation Area Network (IAN) and cloud servers—deliver data in more cost-effective, more secure, more evolved ways.

And as you know—more sensor data means greater insights, which means working more effectively and efficiently. 

Buntink highlighted Schneider Electric’s solutions that use a Bluetooth low-energy approach, which guarantees maintenance-free battery use—anywhere in a plant—for ten years. One configures end nodes via mobile or laptop and easily pairs components, such as sensors and concentrators. He demonstrated this pairing, which took about two seconds, during his presentation. Easy as advertised.   

“With remote data acquisition, you can optimize remote assets while saving manpower and having data at short notice—data than enables quick responses to problems.” 

What types of problems? Reliability of cellular service that hinders communications. Remote locations with spotty power supplies that leave devices unusable. Dead batteries within data loggers. Systems that are vulnerable to threats due to insufficient cybersecurity.

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In the spotlight was Schneider Electric’s Data Logger 4G LTE, an IoT solution that utilizes plug-and-play technology to provide data to an on- or off-premise cloud. He detailed the flexibility afforded with these cloud servers and customizable alarms structures in which users can establish transmission intervals for updates. 

In short, these solutions enable users to bring critical data from anywhere to anyone. 

“Everything can be done remotely,” Buntink boasted. “It has never been so easy to acquire and secure data from remote instruments and integrate it into your systems.” 

To learn more about how Schneider Electric is enabling more open, flexible and continuously current automation systems that enable safe and sustainable industrial operations, access the on-demand versions of this week’s Innovation Talks.