Condition monitoring 3Manufacturing companies around the world are leveraging data generated from fully-instrumented plants to improve productivity and adjust processes, but also to reduce consumption of key resources such as energy, water and raw materials. The Internet of Things paradigm enables a smarter way to monitor production assets, and wireless networks are critical for implementing advanced sensor architectures to closely monitor key parameters such as temperature, pressure, emissions and vibrations, thus achieving greater control over plants performance and sustainability indicators.

Within Symbioptima consortium, the Swiss technology company Paradox Engineering is working with nxtControl and Synesis to develop a multi-layer technological framework for wireless sensing, monitoring and distributed supervisory control, allowing companies to collect and transport industrial data and feed plant-related decisions, demand-response strategies and repeatable dynamic models.

Two wireless hardware platforms are being engineered, both enhancing 6LowPAN wireless functionalities and integrating the IEC 61499 technological protocol. The first platform deals with Low Power Nodes: these wireless nodes stand out for a very limited power consumption, and are therefore suitable to connect battery-powered applications to the network and enable bidirectional communications. The second platform supports the implementation of High Performance Nodes to interface smart industrial devices, and Wireless Gateways to attach and detach nodes across the wireless mesh network. An integrated software architecture has also been developed to manage the entire infrastructure and its components.

The wireless sensor network solution is planned to be tested and validated in a small-scale industrial environment at the project partner Spirax-Sarco industrial site. It will be demonstrated at the production plant, where a set of complex thermal energy production facilities and a distribution network are also in use, including steam and condensed water returns.