Smart technology is expanding its horizons to sensor products, and it has completely changed the concept, integration, and application of these devices. Unlike a basic sensor that is only capable of measuring a physical value and converting it into an electrical signal, a smart sensor is an amalgamation of sensing and computing capabilities. From providing better visibility and control into existing processes and workflows, identifying and locating the sensing elements and determining their environmental conditions, a smart sensor forms an essential component of a digital workplace.
This single package includes a transducing component, processor, and signal conditioning electronics. These sensors small, low power, and are high on productivity. With the increasing adoption of Industry 4.0 principles that demand data-driven processes, smart sensors are increasingly finding a permanent spot in an array of industry verticals, including manufacturing, healthcare, telecommunication, agribusiness and military equipment.
Let’s find out how smart sensors can help businesses in different ways.
Smart Sensors in Action
Smart sensors are effective when employed in production control and management. These devices allow manufacturing businesses to monitor various parts of the work environment. For example, sensors are useful to measure a variety of physical quantities from the operating temperature of machines to the rpm of a rotating component.
Through continuous monitoring of these parameters, it is possible to detect anomalies in production processes, identify ways to improve operating efficiency, and also prevent hazardous situations in the work environment. Smart sensors can also work as triggers for alarms to control and protect the equipment as well as the workforce interacting with it.
However, production is not the only area that can benefit from smart sensors. Here are other processes and workflows that businesses can optimize through these smart sensing devices.
Supply Chain Optimization
When equipped with GPS, smart sensors help real-time tracking of assets, inventory, and vehicles, and in many cases, people too. It becomes easy to estimate the time of arrival, carrier evaluation, cross-docking, and mitigate other delivery challenges. These devices keep an eye on logistics by collecting real-time data on the shipments that help to predict transit time and keeps concerned stakeholders in the loop.
The data from sensors is useful to gain information about the condition as well as the status of in-transit goods to avoid operational losses. These sensors also monitor asset location, asset temperature, and asset presence on the shelf as well.
With these devices, it is also easy to manage inventory by tracking production from initialization to final delivery. With access to real-time data, a smart sensor-based supply chain can forecast inventory for any future production cycle.
Better Machine/Equipment Utilization
What needs maintenance, and what requires replacement? This is something that would have been a guessing game in the past. Smart sensors take this guesswork out of the equation. These sensors collect data continuously to monitor the equipment used in production and thereby predicting failures and possible cases of breakdowns.
Keeping an eye on machine health shortens downtime and significantly reduces RAV (Replacement Asset Value). With a clear picture of machine performance, it is also possible to predict the idle time and optimize machine utilization for maximum efficiency and productivity.
Continuous Monitoring of Processes for Better Quality and Worker Safety
With continuous monitoring of parameters like temperature, pressure, and humidity, smart sensors ensure a healthy environment for activities involving physical engagement. For example, in a process industry, monitoring oxygen levels, fluid/gas concentration, chemical presence, and humidity levels are some of the ways these devices can provide visibility and control.
Maintaining the process quality while keeping a hazard-free work environment is the priority of any company or manufacturing/processing plant. However, to facilitate such conditions, data collection is necessary, and that too in an unobtrusive way. Smart sensors make this possible.
These devices are lightweight and do not require much energy to operate. At the same time, they can work round the clock to keep a check on all the critical processes.
Connected building is a new concept aimed at improving the overall efficiency of the building while improving the quality of workspace or living for the people within it. It is a fact that we spend 90% of our time within buildings. With smart sensors, it is possible to improve the efficiency of building utilities like electricity, cooling, heating, lighting, and more through a connected environment that allows remote control and monitoring of all the devices.
Smart sensors essentially turn mundane processes into smart through real-time data collection, processing, and transmission. These devices are bringing tremendous benefits to businesses of all sizes by bringing intelligence and automation into their processes and workflows. The role of these smart sensing devices will remain central as more companies continue to adopt IIoT to unlock better productivity and efficiency.