While many of the product developments being done typically finds large scale adoption and goes in to a manufacturing cycle, there are some that finds a very limited production requirement. The reasons could be that these products either are too costly to manufacture or find a very niche application that have little usage. While it makes sense to invest heavily in to product development of some classes of these, in many cases it is the services around that product that generates revenue for the manufacturer. In such cases, the manufacturers look for solutions that are quite affordable without large investments. Embien has been helping customers with such requirements in achieving their functional needs keeping the development costs in check.
One such product we helped develop is the Oscillation measurement system. There is a requirement for a product that can measure vibrations with high accuracy for applications such a road quality monitoring, structural stability measurement, machine health monitoring etc. The business requirement is to build such a high accuracy system in very small numbers in a cost -effective manner. Embien, with its expertise, helped develop the product as discussed in this case study.
There are many applications where the oscillations/vibrations are to be monitored. For example, monitoring the vibrations in a bridge helps understand its structural stability. This can help foresee potential failure modes and take corrective steps saving lives. Another application is to monitor the vibrations of moving vehicle over a road/rail that helps qualify the QoS of the transport line. Our client, a leading solution provider in the industry was working an old generation of devices. With a requirement to build a latest generation system, they approached us with practical challenges in terms of development cost and limited manufacturing numbers as the number of installations is going to be in few tens of numbers. Embien analysed the requirements and came up with a solution that meets all the high standards of the functionality in an affordable manner.
To enable portability and leverage the power of smart phones available, Embien eliminated the need for PC based software. The design was split on to two parts:
Eliminating bulky PC and replacing it with such a smart phone-based app is a trend setter in this field.
Embien designed and developed a device that can monitor the oscillations present. The heart of the systems is an 2G accelerometer that operate at 10Hz speed. Once started the device continuously monitors the vibrations and logs internally. The device also has a high frequency GPS receiver that can help identify the location in a real time. With an external antenna, the GPS receiver can work even in a concealed environment.
The device provides two communication interfaces - GSM and WiFi. Acting as a WiFi access point to which the external smart phone can connect to, it provides a simple socket-based interface, through which the configurations can be done. The data being logged can be transmitted over GSM to the Azure IoT cloud or to the Android App over WiFi. On non-availablity of GSM coverage, the data will be buffered and pushed to the cloud once the connectivity is back.
Apart of these, the device also supports 8 Analog inputs that can be acquired at high sample rage and up to 4 digital inputs that can be used to map to events. Digital output options are available to trigger external devices on specific error/alarm conditions as well. Various algorithms are developed and fine-tuned to enable high accuracy vibration measurement and location tracking. Even if there is no GPS coverage, the algorithm will calculate the location to a high accuracy and update the records. Thresholds can be defined to indicate excessive vibrations and trigger LED/SMS alerts.
The overall design is done around a COTS Linux Single Board Computer (SBC) to keep the costs low. Powered by a standalone battery the device can be operated for more than a year without replacing the battery.
Embien also developed Android based app for configuration of the device and data acquisition. Beginning with a login screen for validation, the device provides options to calibrate the sensors. Once calibrated, it can be configured to acquire the samples at a required rate. It can be chosen to store the data locally in the device or upload it to the cloud. The Android App can also help set threshold values, exceeding which SMS will be sent with precise geographic location of the event with the time stamp. The App also provides options to pull in the data from the device directly or from the Azure cloud storage. It can create elaborate visualization charts that helps engineers understand the overall system health. Various reports are generated that can not only be viewed but also printed or emailed as PDF documents. The Android App also provides options to upgrade the device firmware helping functional upgrades without the need to bring the devices back to the OEM.
Embien is a leading product engineering company with expertise in developing specialized instruments and devices that carter to niche application areas such as Oscillation Measurement Systems, Protocol converters etc. We are known for not only in creating mass market solutions but also cost-effective products for small volumes. Our customers have been benefitted extensively with our help in moving from current/old products to next generation of the products. Reach out to us in leveraging our experience for your next product development.