At its 2016 User Group Conference in Johannesburg, Yokogawa whet the local market’s appetite for all things IIoT when it announced the development of a compact, low-cost wireless sensor. Aptly named the Sushi Sensor (sushi is easy to eat and makes customers happy – Yokogawa is a Japanese company after all), this battery-operated device would be designed to optimise plant efficiency through continuous monitoring of vibration and surface temperature on industrial equipment like compressors, pumps and fans. At the time, the models passed around were just empty plastic shells built to illustrate the idea. But in March last year, the first production units were launched in Japan and Yokogawa is now set for rollout into other areas, beginning in Europe later this month.
A long-time protagonist of wireless technology, Yokogawa introduced its first ISA 100-compatable devices back in 2010. What sets the new Sushi Sensors apart though is their ability to communicate directly with applications resident in the cloud, unlike their ISA 100 counterparts, which are designed to send process-related data to the plant’s control systems. Cloud connectivity is established through LoRaWAN, a low-power wide-area wireless data communication protocol attracting interest among the developers of IIoT solutions. In long-range mode, a LoRaWAN network is no hustler with its top speed of only a few hundred bits/second, but with a range measured in kilometres, it is ideal for equipment-monitoring applications with update requirements in the order of hours.
According to Yokogawa, the Sushi Sensor offers plant owners a breakthrough in the drive to improve overall asset availability through a condition-based maintenance approach. The low-power design ensures the devices are ‘batteried for life’, while the LoRaWAN range eliminates the need for repeaters in the network. In addition, near-field radio communication allows device setup and monitoring via a smartphone and app. As an integral component of the company’s new Synaptic Business Automation concept, Yokogawa plans to add variety to its Sushi Sensor buffet in line with growing demand for predictive maintenance solutions – see the announcement in ‘Yokogawa to release IIoT sensors outside Japan’.
MES becomes a ‘regular’
This month, the team at SA Instrumentation and Control is delighted to welcome Lance Turner as a contributing editor to the magazine. Lance, an MES specialist employed at Sasol’s Secunda plant, will be writing a regular column about his passion for uniting IT across the production spectrum and the challenges large manufacturing companies face in their drive to go digital. Lance’s vision is a unified IT and manufacturing discipline that stands ready to deliver against the promises of Industry 4.0. In the first article, he assesses the problematic issue of reconciling traditional IT approaches with the 24/7/365 demands of real-time manufacturing. See ‘Traditional vs manufacturing IT’.
Editor: SA Instrumentation and Control
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