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2019

11Nov

The magic of Industry 4.0

by Team Digireach

The three terms which propel Industry 4.0 are:

  • Automation

Automation is the technology by which a process or procedure is performed with minimal human assistance.

  • Efficiency

The comparison of what is actually produced or performed with what can be achieved with the same consumption of resources (money, time, labor, etc.). It is an important factor in determination of productivity.

  • Optimization

An optimization problem consists of maximizing or minimizing a real function by systematically choosing input values from within an allowed set and computing the value of the function, or in other words, ‘the action of making the best or most effective use of a situation or resource’.

  • Forbes (business magazine) predicts that investment in the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) will top $60 trillion (USD) in the next 15 years.
  • There is approximately 25% reduction in asset maintenance cost and 35% reduction in downtime as assessed by Servicemax.
  • The number of B2B IoT connections will reach 5.4 billion by 2020 forecasts Verizon.

IoT or Industry 4.0 is the ubiquitous. The above predictions are from some noted magazines in recent news. It is not an empty catchphrase or marketing hype. The technology and term is here to stay and it’s slowly getting implemented all around us.

Manufacturing and industry are majorly going to get affected by the implementation of IoT.

  • Manufacturing operations

Manufacturing operations include the several elements which are typical in Manufacturing Operations Management (MOM), such as asset management, intelligent manufacturing, performance optimization, end-to-end operational visibility, performance monitoring, planning, human machine interaction,.

  • Production asset management and maintenance

This segment looks into production asset monitoring and tracking.  Monitoring of parameters such as quality, environment performance, potential damage or breakdowns, bottlenecks. Checks and improvements at each stage of asset manufacturing leads to improvement in quality of the end-product.

  • Field service

This segment of IoT lies outside the manufacturing facility. A very important part of any product is it’s after service nowadays. For example if a costly equipment which is critical to the operation of a plant is installed like an air compressors, it requires periodic maintenance. Optimum health of the air compressor is vital to maintain the productivity level. Predictive maintenance which monitors the health status and service at regular intervals based on the alerts from IoT sensors goes a long was in increasing the lifetime of these equipments.

All the above segments have immense scope of improvement and revenue generation with proper implementation of IoT.

21Oct

Why electricity needs to be monitored?

by Team Digireach

We are entering an age of data and information. Nowadays, its is easy and very much possible to track any kind of data. Electricity is our top-most source of energy. Tracking and monitoring of our consumption of our electricity can lead to extensive savings and improvement in our usage.

Advantages for Electric Companies

  • Constant tracking of energy parameters leads to increase in efficiency.
  • Automatic monitoring of electricity usage. This eliminates manual monthly meter readings.
  • Prevents failure of the system by predicting avenues of failure so that pre-emptive steps can be taken to address the same.
  • Reduce power outages (blackouts). Real-time data from energy meters gives the operators knowledge of the status of the power infrastructure and it’s usage
  • Dynamic pricing. Demand and supply of power will define the cost.
  • Avoids the capital expense of building new power plants
  • We will be ushering in a new age of market dynamics in electricity demand. This arrangement/ data can be further optimized based on requirements of AI (Artificial Intelligence) in the future.

Advantages for Users of Electricity

After the electric company has fully installed its advanced metering infrastructure, smart meters offer the following benefits to electricity customers:

  • Reduces the number of blackouts and system-wide electricity failures
  • Trend can be gauged from the graphs of electrical data. This can give a detailed feedback to the power companies. Necessary tweaks can be incorporated in the generation, transmission or distribution to optimize power consumption.
  • Constant tracking of power consumption can enable the consumers to make necessary changes in their habit of electricity intensive machinery utilization.
  • Dynamic pricing according to the day of the year and the time of day can lead to better utilization of existing resources. This can also lead to lower electricity bills for consumers.

As mentioned above, it’s a win-win situation. The earlier we usher in IoT and monitoring of data in the electricity sector, the greater advantage for the authorities and consumer it would be.

Smart meters and an IoT-enabled electricity infrastructure can provide quick, accurate measurements of electricity use while eliminating the need for estimated monthly bills or home visits from meter readers. The graphs and data collected across a period of time can help the authorities to plan and prioritize better.

This can lead to a reliable and strong electricity infrastructure for the future (Read: IPDS and RT DAS). Welcome Electricity 4.0.

11Oct

Smart and pre-paid metering

by Team Digireach

How do we make the existing state utilities more efficient and bring down their losses? Smart prepaid electricity meters are one of the answers.

This step is likely to bring revolution in power sector by way of reduction in AT&C losses, better health of DISCOMs, incentivising energy conservation, ease of bill payments and doing away with the paper bills.

Smart meters are a part of the overall advanced metering infrastructure solutions (AMI) aimed at better demand response designed to reduce energy consumption during peak hours.

India plans to change all electricity meters to prepaid smart meters by 2022. This step taken by the government is to address the issue of energy efficiency and optimization. Electricity is the need of the hour. Electric power generation is a prime component in the development of a nation. It is the base to move any developmental activity in the right direction. Hence, it is being addressed on an urgent basis with help of schemes like IPDS (Integrated Power Development Scheme), RT DAS (Real-time Data Acquisition System). Energy metering system etc.

  • The government believes that the plan will increase distribution substation capacity by 38% by 2022

India has a beleaguered power sector. Proper monitoring and tracking of energy usage via smart meters would go a long way in addressing the problems of the existing energy infrastructure. The strategy is part of the government’s electricity distribution plan prepared by the Central Electricity Authority (CEA), India’s apex power sector planning body, and comes at a time when the new government is trying to step up its efforts to supply 24×7 power to all.

Creating a smart meter architecture minimises human intervention in metering, billing and collection process and helps in reducing theft by identifying loss pockets. It requires a two-way communication network, control centre equipment and software applications that enable near real-time gathering and transfer of energy usage information.

Smart metering would empower consumers with tools to help them conserve energy and plan their electricity usage in an efficient and optimum manner.

The plan of introducing smart meters is part of government’s plan to fix the power sector in the country. Stopping the unwanted pilferage and making consumers accountable for the usage and wastage will usher India to a new dawn of electricity.

Smart meters, electricity usage tracking, reducing wastage and cutting down on the transmission and distribution losses are the need of the hour.

1Oct

What IPDS brings?

by Team Digireach

It is a flagship programmes aimed at increasing energy access among the poor. The IPDS is aimed at enhancing the power infrastructure in urban areas

Agenda of IPDS are as follows:

  • Reduction in AT&C losses
  • Establishment of IT enabled energy accounting/ auditing system
  • Metered consumption
  • Improvement in collection efficiency

Energy losses occur in the process of supplying electricity to consumers due to technical and commercial reasons.  The technical losses are due to energy dissipated in the conductors , transformers and other equipments used for transmission, transformation, sub-transmission and distribution of power.  These technical losses are inherent in a system and can be reduced to a certain level.

Pilferage by hooking, bypassing meters, defective meters, errors in meter reading and in estimating un-metered supply of energy are the main sources of the commercial losses owhen Commercial losses are added to Technical losses, it gives Transmission & Distribution (T&D) loss.

There is another component of commercial losses, which is attributable to non-recovery of the billed amount, which is reflected in collection efficiency. T&D losses together with loss in collection give us Aggregate Technical & Commercial (AT&C) losses.

Transmission & Distribution losses (T&D losses)

T& D Losses = { 1- (Total energy Billed/ Total energy Input in the system)} x 100

Aggregate technical and commercial losses (AT&C losses)

AT&C Losses = { 1- (Billing Efficiency x Collection Efficiency) } x 100 Where Billing efficiency= Total unit Billed/ Total unit Inputs Collection efficiency = Revenue collected / Amount Billed

Energy accounting is a system used in energy management systems to measure and analyze energy consumption to improve energy efficiency within an organization. Dashboards and sensor infrastructure can be arranged to collect and monitor data pertaining to energy parameters on a real-time basis. These systems can be used to track energy usage.

IPDS scheme, apart from ensuring 24×7 power supply in urban area, will also help in improvement in billing and collection efficiency which will ultimately result in reduction in Aggregate Technical and Commercial (AT&C or distribution) losses.

These are some of the advantages India can assume on successful implementation of IPDS technology.

10Sep

Advantages of IoT in Solar

by Team Digireach

Renewable sources of energy are the way of the future. One of the primary sources of this alternative form of energy is solar. It’s abundant, it’s clean. It is the fastest-growing renewable energy source in the world, increasing in worldwide capacity by an average of 40 percent every year.

The Internet of Things Technology for supervising solar power generation can greatly enhance the performance, maintenance and monitoring of the plant. IoT can enable us to do intelligent fault detection and power optimization.

Photovoltaic (PV) array analytics and monitor is necessary for remote farms. Monitoring the solar energy incident on the panel can help us evaluate and plan the energy generation. Auxiliary electronics need to be attached to each solar panel to make this monitoring a reality. Real-time data generation of the efficiency of solar panel can help us sense the trend in solar array effectiveness and robustness.

In addition to providing companies with real-time alerts, leveraging IoT in solar energy can lead to improvements in smart metering. This makes energy production more efficient both in terms of cost and logistics. Solar contains a diverse portfolio of rooftop projects located across the city or large scale project installation in remote locations where high sunlight incidence is prevalent.

It is vital to track the data collection. Digital Reach provides the resources and installation expertise to handle the tracking of relevant data. The solar plant data for a range of parameters covering modules, inverters, arrays etc. are captured. The interval at which the data is captured can also be regulated as per the requirement. This data serves as a basic building block for further optimization and assessment of the working of the plant. Necessary changes and adjustments can be done to extract the maximum possible output from the existing installation.

The data which gets collected from the assembly of sensors can provide an array of reports that integrates power generation estimates. Data visualization options can be integrated in the software. The operator or the management can play with the appropriate display of relevant data, KPI construction, dashboards etc. to facilitate easy analysis.

Other operation and maintenance (O&M) details such as log report/ attendance of personnel/ service and other data can be integrated into the dashboard so that the management gets a holistic perspective of at the plant level. Also, the data which has been collected over a period can be integrated to new-age technologies like Machine Learning (ML) and Artificial Intelligence to gather more insights.

1Sep

Energy industry – Smarter, Efficient, Distributed.

by Team Digireach

Optimizing maintenance schedules can significantly improve reliability. Preventative measures taken to improve reliability by keeping equipment in optimal condition and detecting problems so that necessary repairs can be done before it fails.

The energy sector is undergoing a massive transformation. IoT sensors measure parameters such as vibration, temperature and wear to optimize maintenance schedules.  Data and other energy parameters are tracked via energy meters. In addition to providing more information to utilities, IoT technology can help customers to be more informed about their energy usage. Internet-connected smart meters collect usage data and send it to both utilities and customers remotely.

The data collected can be used to generate reports. Based on these reports, action can be taken by the utility companies or the customers at a personal level. The reports and graphs can enable the authorities to take action and optimize the energy consumption by identifying leakages and optimizing generation, transmission and distribution.

IoT technology has improved to a great extent in the electrical utility sector. The data collection points, memory space, data processing at the edge-level or the cloud-level can be chosen appropriately so that optimized data collection and preventative action can be taken.

IoT technology can enable the integration of more distributed resources into the grid, but it can also improve grid management in other ways as well. Placing sensors at substations and along distribution lines provides real-time power consumption data that energy companies can use to make decisions about voltage control, load switching, network configuration and more. Some of these decisions can be automated.

Sensors located on the grid can alert operators to outages, allowing them to turn off power to damaged lines to prevent electrocution, wildfires and other hazards. Manual activity of isolating problem areas takes up a lot of time and leads to unwanted losses.  Smart switches can isolate problem areas automatically and reroute power to get the lights back on sooner.

Load forecasting is another aspect of smart power of the future. Power usage data is already collected using an assembly of IoT gateway, cloud, processing power and memory. There are pockets of high power generation and high power consumption both region-wise and time-wise. Load forecasting can help in managing congestion along transmission and distribution lines and help ensure that all of the connected generation plants meet requirements related to frequency and voltage control. This power consumption data can also help companies decide where to build new infrastructure and make infrastructure upgrades. More informed decision and investments in the power sector can go a long way in providing reliable power capacity for each location.

The IoT is transforming nearly every sector of our economy, including the one that powers — the energy sector. Over the coming years, the energy industry is going to get smarter, more efficient, more distributed and more reliable, thanks in part to the IoT.

21Aug

Why IoT Platforms

by Team Digireach

An IoT Platform enables direct provisioning, management, and automation of connected devices within the Internet of Things Universe. It’s basically a multi-layer technology that connects the hardware, irrespective of it type, to the cloud using flexible connectivity options, security mechanisms and data processing powers.

We’ve seen what an IoT Platform is (for more detailed information, click here), so now let us see why an organization should use an IoT Platform, and what factors to keep in mind before selecting a platform.

Because IoT is a system of systems i.e. it’s a network of devices and software applications, it has a lot of sub-domains of expertise, which is rarely accommodated by a single organization in itself. Since IoT depends on the correct synthesis of engineering fields as distinct as mechanical, electrical, software, etc, IoT Platforms are a great way to overcome technical difficulties arising from managing various teams of specialized engineers.

However, a single IoT platform cannot cater to all the various needs of the industry. Thus, there are a near infinite number of platforms for the various different breeds of applications, to cater to the needs of all industries and organizations.

Unlike other platforms (mobile platforms, desktop platforms, etc.), IoT Platforms have a lot more variety and customizability available to the businesses which employ them. This, in addition to the various benefits which IoT offers, is why IoT Platforms are in such demand in recent times.

There are some factors which need to be considered while deciding on the most compatible IoT platform-

  1. Scalability and Flexibility- whether the platform will scale with the changes in scale of the system. Also, it has to flexible for the various technological changes which will undoubtedly occur every few years, i.e. the network should be integrable with different networks.
  2. Stability- the platform provider should be trustworthy and be capable of providing the platform for a long term. If the provider folds, the business may crash.
  3. Model Pricing and Business type- whether the platform is suitable for the type of business it needs to be used for, and also whether the pricing is suitable for the services offered.
  4. Time to Market- i.e. the time it will take before the platform is up and running for use in public domain, and how the provider would help in getting there.
  5. Security- lastly, one of the most important factors, security. Security is absolutely critical to every IoT system. Each aspect of the platform should have security built into it. Device-to-cloud security, application authentication, data encryption, etc are some of the things to be on the lookout for.

IoT solutions are getting more and more complex and dynamic, involving larger ecosystems of devices. With all the new types of remote interactions between humans and devices, IoT platforms are spearheading a new model for the digital transformation.

11Aug

What are IoT Platforms

by Team Digireach

The idea of connecting the physical world to the Internet has been around since the 90s. But the idea didn‘t accelerate until twenty – or even ten – years ago. It is accelerating now. The phenomenon of an interconnected world is called “Internet of Things” (IoT) and it will dramatically change our lives in the coming years.

The surge in the uptake of IoT in recent years is due to various factors-

  1. Hardware has become cheaper, smaller and more powerful in recent years.
  2. Cost of mobile devices, bandwidth and data processing has reduced exponentially.
  3. Wide spread availability of supporting tools and cloud-based infrastructure.
  4. Increased awareness about IoT and its innumerable benefits and applications.

Now that we’ve seen WHY IoT is on the rise, let us look at WHAT makes up an IoT system-

  1. Hardware- such as sensors or devices, to collect data and/or perform actions.
  2. Connectivity- i.e. a way to transmit and receive data from the cloud such as gateway or routers.
  3. Software- hosted in the cloud, to analyze the data received and make decisions based on it.
  4. User Interface- a way for the user to interact with the system e.g. a web app.

One of the most important parts of the IoT System is the “Platform”. This Platform exists in the software and the user interface of the system. IoT platforms are the support software that connects everything in an IoT system.

IoT platforms help:

  • Connect hardware, such as sensors and devices.
  • Handle different hardware and software communication protocols.
  • Provide security and authentication for devices and users.
  • Collect, visualize, and analyze data the sensors and devices gather.
  • Integrate all of the above with existing business systems and other web services.

Thus an IoT platform facilitates communication, data flow, device management, and the functionality of applications. With all the varying kinds of hardware and the different connectivity options, there needs to be a way of making everything work together and that’s what IoT platforms do.

1Aug

Distribution Transformer Monitoring

by Team Digireach

Electricity plays a very important role in our daily life. We depend on it for light to see, energy to cook, water to drink and so much more. There are many components and equipments involved in regulating distribution of electricity according to usage. The most critical of these is the transformer. Distribution Transformers (DTs) play a crucial role and act as hub in electrical distribution network, and its correct function is essential for reliable power supply to consumers. Catastrophic failure of a critical transformer would result in power outages in the downstream network and could cause significant economic and environmental challenges.

Let us review some of the factors by which Distribution Transformers’ life cycle can get adversely affected-

  1. Unplanned expansion of networks which causes overloading, resulting in additional losses and generates waste heat.
  2. Incompatible devices being run on transformers, such as a 3 phase device being connected to a single phase transformer.
  3. Stealing of power by hooking from the main supply, unbalancing the transformer or overloading it.
  4. Oil drainage, poor power factor, etc. also cause the transformer to age rapidly.

In India, there is an increase of approximately 14% in the amount of DTs in the network. However, these transformers rarely have intelligence or communication capabilities. Lack of information on the loading of the transformer is one of the main reasons for inefficient distribution network. Transformers are to be monitored very cautiously on a regular basis to avoid unexpected interruption and to anticipate upcoming problem. This has led to the advent of smart grids in India.

Smart grids enable the company to monitor the Distribution Transformer’s working, provide the facility to measure critical parameter and transmit the information to remote data center for analysis and visualization which help system operators to monitor and control the system.

Today, most utilities focus on Smart Grid technology and other aspects that are crucial for the success of their Smart Grid vision. This Internet of Things (IOT) powered Smart Grid technology will help the utilities industry to optimally utilize transformers and identify problems before any catastrophic failure occurs. This online-measuring system is used to collect and analyze temperature data over time. Thus Transformer Monitoring will help to identify or recognize unexpected situations before any serious failure which leads to a greater reliability and significant cost savings.

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