SEQUANTA Chronicles

Low-consumption Edge Computing, key of success for the IIoT for mobile assets

The monitoring of critical mobile assets deployed in harsh environments – those that require monitoring and increased maintenance – offer the most difficult challenges. Still, these systems are those whose operations require the greatest control and the greatest vigilance.
With the deployment of the “Edge Computing”, the IIoT will finally be able to offer its full potential in unique operating situations involving critical and mobile assets.

Behind the term “Edge Computing” lies a simple principle: to process the decisive data where it is captured, i.e. in the field at the edge of the network, and exploit them either in short loop to interact with local equipment’s or through a connection to a remote information system.
In this configuration, the Edge Computing provides agility and responsiveness for asset operations and maintenance, while the remote information system is used to store, analyze, visualize and deliver dashboard built on post-processed indicators. These will be used to build knowledge, dimensioning and decision through a second, longer information loop.

Supervising mobile assets in demanding environments implies many operational challenges; to name just two: the impossibility to wire – both for communication and energy – and the difficulty to access targeted measurement points. To cope with the field reality, these applications require dedicated equipment’s that must offer the following characteristics: ease of installation, possibility to deploy in retrofit, radio communications and low energy consumption. In this context, the convergence of Edge Computing, Wireless and Low-power technologies enable the conception of monitoring systems that overcome all the obstacles on the path towards the deployment of IIoT in harsh environments.

For instance, some modes of transport such as cable transport, combine the challenges of technical complexity, mobility and demanding environmental conditions. In addition, they request maximum availability of assets and a very high level of reliability of equipment.
It is precisely in these very specific contexts that Low-Consumption Edge Computing deploys all its relevance.

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Monitor the conditions of cable transport

Adopted in the mountains for a while now, also used for tourist transport, exceptional entertainment facilities and industrial transportation, cable transport is the new popular urban public transport mode.  It must be said that cable transportation is a soft, sustainable and efficient solution adapted to the current challenges of mobility. On the other hand, its challenges are numerous: environmental constraints, criticality related to the transportation of people, requirements of the industrial processes, precautions related to the materials to be conveyed.

In the case of public urban, mountain or tourist transport, the guarantee of passenger’s comfort and safety is a key element. However, because of the external environment, cable transport installations are subject to swaying, corrosion and wear, increased by extreme mountain conditions or a continuous operation throughout the year in urban areas.

At the same time, taking a closer look, ropeway machineries are very complex systems assembling many sensitive components including lines, cables, pylons, balances, clamps, vehicles, drive systems and control systems…

Besides, access to the critical data required for an optimized operation and service remains complicated. Indeed, the monitoring of certain data requires measurements made on places difficult to access, in a space constrained zone and far from any access to a power supply.

In this case, Wireless Low-Consumption Edge Computing brings a powerful and adapted response. On one hand, the wireless technology and the reduced size of the Low-Consumption Edge Computing devices allow an easy retrofit installation. The data is captured and processed directly on the monitored asset for a greater responsiveness and a direct connection with the infrastructure. On the other hand, low consumption provides a longer autonomy to the monitoring system.

This model goes further in the construction of new knowledge regarding comfort and operating conditions, in order to improve the quality of services and the durability of the operation. It also provides an opportunity to detect critical events as they occur for a greater control of security risks.

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Low Consumption Edge Computing:
enter the era of smart operation.

Monitoring of a critical function asset while in operation is key for operation and maintenance optimization. In situ continuous supervision provides powerful data to anticipate potential failures and to schedule maintenance interventions in optimal times (neither too early nor too late) to extend the life of the equipment and ensure a reliable and efficient service continuity.

Such data are indicators such as temperature, vibration levels, clamping force, swaying … whose real-time and short-loop processing makes it possible to quickly detect threshold overruns or abnormal behaviors and to trigger actions which will guarantee a reliable operating condition over time.

Ultimately, the Low-Power, Wireless Edge Computing paves the way for optimized operations for mobile assets in harsh environments, extending their life cycle and consolidating security through smart operations for an increased activity profitability.

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