Lisa Gingell, director, t-mac Technologies, explains the benefits of leaving cables behind and going wireless in energy metering and management strategies  

The desire to drive productivity and turnover through efficiency means the industrial sector is always one of the first to embrace new developments in technology. One of the biggest growth areas for laptops and smartphones over the last few years has been wireless technology, which has freed us from cables, plugs and sockets.

Now it’s time for industrial processes to reap the benefits of wireless, such as savings of up to 40% on energy consumption. Wireless environmental sensors are an intelligent addition to energy metering or energy management strategies, especially as they are easy to install and fully operational within minutes.

Fitting the sensors needed to provide information to a wired Building energy Management System can result in multiple cables running through a factory. Equipment would have had to be linked to central data networks, with machinery taken off-line in order to install energy monitoring hardware.

Now, though, systems like t-mac’s which use Wireless Sensor Technology (WiST), developed in partnership with EnOcean, can provide a constant flow of information from a site or multiple sites around a factory or other industrial setting. The sensors monitor vibration, temperature, CO2 levels and power quality, reporting changes in environmental conditions instantly as they happen. And because they’re wireless, there’s less disruption while they are being fitted.

In industry, many businesses are generally unaware of how inefficiently equipment is functioning until it is too late, often with costly implications for the bottom line. The necessity for preventative maintenance and cost savings, along with the desire to extend the life cycle of equipment and minimise machine downtime, has resulted in the development of effective condition monitoring systems using wireless technology.

From continuous monitoring with wireless sensors, instant alerts can be sent to site managers via SMS and/or email if conditions fall outside preset criteria. Through the alerting section of the t-mac software, a log is maintained and the user can review against warning levels assigned to each alert. This real-time access to machine conditions and fault codes enable managers to view critical data first hand and act upon it instantly to reduce equipment downtime.

Self-powered system

Historically, there have been questions surrounding the use of wireless systems, mainly because they rely on  batteries which can lead to high maintenance costs and diminished signal quality. In many cases, this is true: most wireless sensors on the market do require an additional power source which will need to be changed every two to five years. t-mac, though, has developed a self-powered system which doesn’t need  batteries. The WiST sensors combine micro-energy converters with ultra low power electronics and reliable wireless communications.

But how can energy come from nothing? When a switch is pressed, the temperature alters or the luminance level varies. All these operations generate enough energy to transmit wireless signals, which leaves t-mac’s WiST sensors free to do what they do best: monitor the state of the environment, or a specific utility, and transmit that information seamlessly.

Lisa Gingell, a director of t-mac Technologies, said: “Wireless systems are an integral part of the future of energy management in buildings.

“Our WiST is based around a proven standards-based technology from our technology partners at EnOcean, and uses a license-free 868MHz frequency band, which makes it suitable for use throughout most of the world.

“We’re proud to be leading the way in industrial energy management applications using the most advanced and secure wireless systems available on the market.”

t-mac Technologies

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