Friday, March 13, 2015

Mesh networks for industrial internet

Industrial internet is mostly about collecting, analyzing and visualizing data to enable new use cases or to enhance operations. One of the challenges in getting industrial internet systems up and running is how to efficiently set up and manage networks consisting of dozens or even hundreds of sensors. Wirepas have developed an interesting wireless mesh network solution they call Pino™ to solve this issue.

To test the usability of the Wirepas mesh with our existing data collector, Sensor Hub, we added a Wirepas plugin to the Hub, and designed a set of simple sensor boards that measure temperature, absolute air pressure and battery voltage. The readings were then transferred via UART to a reference HW board developed by Nordic Semiconductor running Wirepas Pino™ stack. These boards automatically organized themselves to a mesh and relayed the data to a gateway, a simple USB dongle with a virtual serial port. Users were able to view data collected from the sensors locally, and the Hub also pushed the data to the cloud using either ethernet, WiFi or cellular network.

See video of the solution in use:

Wirepas Pino™ mesh is not aimed at low latency real-time data, but rather at giving possibility to easy deployment of very low power battery operated mesh network with zero configuration and minimal installation.

Just drop the wireless sensor nodes where needed and the mesh automatically configures itself. If the signal range has to be extended, simply drop another node on the way and it starts relaying the data.

Most of the time there are multiple routes through the mesh for relaying data. The sender can set preference for either low latency or energy. The mesh automatically optimizes routing based on the energy reserves available in the nodes, or by fastest route. If a node is low on battery, the mesh automatically starts avoiding that node to further save its battery.

In case of deploying large amount of nodes, it is possible to add more gateway nodes to distribute the traffic load and also to avoid single point of failure.

Based on our experience the Wirepas Pino™ does it's job in providing a wireless sensor network that is easy to set up and administer. This quite nicely complements Ixonos' solutions that focus on data collection, cloud storage, and visualization of data quite nicely.  We look forward to creating solutions for our Industrial customers using Wirepas technologies.

Teemu Rasi, Embedded Engineer, Ixonos Plc

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