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`Micro data` system slashes costs of remote monitoring

23 October, 2011

A small British company has developed a condition and energy monitoring system that uses wireless and mobile phone technologies to monitor and control equipment remotely at a much lower cost than traditional monitoring systems. Hemel Hempstead based Global Sense has spent two years refining its patented “data push” technology which captures machine data cheaply in real time.

The company claims that its system can cut preventative maintenance costs by up to 40% and breakdown costs by 30%, while delivering 20% more uptime.

The system senses changes in the state of a component, such as an escalator bearing, and sends this “micro data” to a central server only when necessary, thus cutting data transmission costs to a few pounds (in the UK) per month. Software analyses the data which can then be viewed via a Web browser on any platform, including mobile phones, anywhere in the world.

Global Sense says it can provide the service for hundreds rather than thousands of pounds, without having to rely on existing networks or install new ones.

“We don’t burden our clients with big data in the way that legacy systems do,” explains the company’s chairman, Roy Saunders. “Our analytics are incredibly precise and allow important decisions to be made on the fly. No one else can do this as reliably and conveniently.”

The data is gathered from simple sensors such as thermocouples and current sensors by nodes (above) that incorporate industrialised GPRS transmitter-receivers. These send data to the servers only when necessary, thus cutting data transmission costs. The data is analysed and visualised using specially developed tools which identify and highlight real and potential issues on the monitored equipment.

One of the first installations of the Global Sense technology is at Heathrow’s Terminal Five where it is being used to monitor items such as bearings and gearboxes in lifts and escalators. According to the company`s managing director Martin Walder (who was previously with Rockwell Automation and ABB Robotics in the UK), the system has cut energy use on one escalator by 14MW in one year. It has also reduced the escalator’s operating hours and the need for maintenance.

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