A faster path to remote visibility

Jan. 21, 2021
Out-of-the-box solution differentiated by time to value

For industrial machine builders, end-users and service providers alike, visibility into the status and performance of remote assets was—and still is—the original “killer app” of the Industrial IoT era. Compelling value propositions range from predictive diagnostics that head off unscheduled downtime to incremental digital services that can transform the business models of OEMs. 

But a funny thing happened on the way to Industry 4.0. Establishing the necessary communications between remote assets and home base turned out to be harder than many expected, with issues ranging from lengthy deployments to complicated integrations. As a result, many have struggled to gain the visibility they need. One of the biggest challenges is the sheer number of point solutions required to get equipment connected—communication networks, hardware, service contracts, server infrastructure—the list goes on. This often leads to large, time-consuming infrastructure projects, difficult troubleshooting, and a high likelihood of failure and compatibility issues over time. 

Enter Samsara. The six-year-old start-up focused on the providing cloud-based visibility for industrial assets and vehicle fleets has launched a new industrial gateway device, the IG41, which is designed to substantially reduce the technical barriers that stand in the way of successful remote monitoring applications, according to Pete Atkin, vice president and general manager for the company’s industrial product line. 

“We believe that it shouldn’t be prohibitively complex to connect your operations,” Atkin says. “We believe that modern technology can make data collection and analysis seamless, freeing you to focus on your core business.” 

“It just works. And that goes a long way towards reducing friction and simplifying our day-to-day processes.” Centarus’ Chi Fang, on the company’s use of the IG41 to streamline remote monitoring of its low-carbon energy solutions.

The IG41 is the cornerstone of a “pre-integrated,” all-in-one solution that effectively combines hardware, software and cloud functionality. It effectively consolidates the infrastructure needed for remote monitoring, leading to less time and money spent on configuration and installation, and fewer potential points of failure. 

The IG41 connects to everything from compressors, generators, pumps, and boilers, to custom equipment and PLCs by supporting the most common industrial protocols, including EtherNet/IP, Modbus, S7, ROC and CAN. Because the gateway offers expandable input/output modules, it readily scales from a single site with a few sensors or a large operation with mixed asset types and PLCs. And for distributed operations, the IG41 can connect hard-to-reach equipment and I/O wirelessly and at long-range, using the LoRaWAN protocol.

The device’s dual-SIM LTE cellular modem is built in, and automatically switches between whichever carrier (AT&T or Verizon) is strongest in a particular area. And with carrier contracts fully managed by Samsara—plus unlimited data storage in the cloud—there is no need to deploy or maintain additional infrastructure.

Finally, the IG41 seamlessly integrates with Samsara’s cloud-based remote monitoring platform. Mobile-optimized dashboards and reports are ready to visualize data from the gateway as soon it’s collected—without additional development work. Data is presented in trendlines and in one-second intervals for further analysis. Alarms can be set up for any data point pulled in by the IG41, allowing personnel to keep close tabs on critical parameters. If further analysis is needed, the cloud platform’s bidirectional APIs allow the ready export of data to complementary analytical tools, or the import of complementary data into the Samsara visualization platform. 

Certarus, a provider of low-carbon energy solutions, was a pre-release user of the IG41, deploying the gateways to monitor operations of its semi-trailer-sized equipment skids for metering of natural gas from renewable and traditional sources. “Our goal is always zero downtime, and leveraging Samsara to maintain reliable service is a key part of our operational strategy,” says Chi Fang, head of technology at Certarus

“Samsara offered a fully integrated solution, as opposed to a traditional, do-it-yourself solution where we have to manage the hardware, the software, cloud infrastructure and data plan," Fang says. “What our team loves about the IG41 is that it offers a plug-and-play experience. Once installed, there's no swapping SIM cards, no tinkering, no phone calls to a support line. It just works. And that goes a long way towards reducing friction and simplifying our day-to-day processes. 

“Further, we were looking for a solution that could transmit data at one second intervals, and automatically select the strongest cell signal in any given location,” Fang adds. “The IG41 fit the bill perfectly.”

About the author: Keith Larson
About the Author

Keith Larson | Group Publisher

Keith Larson is group publisher responsible for Endeavor Business Media's Industrial Processing group, including Automation World, Chemical Processing, Control, Control Design, Food Processing, Pharma Manufacturing, Plastics Machinery & Manufacturing, Processing and The Journal.

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