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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.

21Jul

Automatic Power Factor Controller

by Team Digireach

Efficient generation of power at present is crucial, as in the present technological revolution, power is very precious and its wastage is a global concern. We need to find out the causes of power loss and remediate them to improve the power system. This is where the power factor comes into play. Power factor measures a system’s power efficiency and is an important aspect in improving the quality of supply. It is defined as the ratio between the KW (actual load power) and the KVA (apparent load power) drawn by an electrical load. It is simply a measure of how efficiently the load current is being converted into useful work output.

The actual amount of the power being used, or dissipated, in a circuit is called active power (P), and it is measured in watts. Active power is the product of the sinusoidal voltage and current wave form. Reactive power is the power consumed in the ac circuit because of the inductive and capacitive field. The unit used for measuring reactive power is KVAR. Apparent power is the combination of the active power and reactive power.

Hence, the lower the power factor is, the lower is the economic efficiency of the system. A low power factor can be the result of fluctuating current waveforms i.e. unstable input, or a significant phase difference between voltage and current at load terminals. Usually the presence of inductive loads reduces power factor by causing the current to lag behind the voltage and this can be corrected by power factor correction methods.

Power factor correction (PFC) is the process of compensating a lagging current by a leading current, through connecting capacitance to the supply. The capacitor draws current which leads the voltage, thereby offsetting the lag caused by the inductive elements. This Automatic Power Factor Controller (APFC) is designed such that they utilize the scope of the Internet of Things (IoT) to the fullest, to closely monitor the working of the system and make necessary changes to the capacitive components to ensure the power factor is made as close to unity as practically possible without causing unintended side-effects.

APFC devices find application in industries, power distribution system and commercial power lines to increase stability and efficiency of the system. They help in reducing charges on utility bills by pulling in high current drawn from the system. Lesser power consumed means lower greenhouse gas emissions and lesser fossil fuel consumption by the power stations, thereby benefitting the environment.

13Jun

Automatic Under-Frequency Load Shedding

by Team Digireach

The maintenance of maximum service reliability has always been the primary concern of the electric utility industry. To ensure this, power systems are always designed and operated such that working is not affected in any system conditions and load requirements are always met. Usually the designing is such that it can hold up service continuity even under emergency situations, but sometimes, unpredictable conditions of faults, forced outages, etc. may occur. When this happens, it is important to ensure that steps are taken to ensure that a major system outage doesn’t occur.

Any part of a power system will begin to deteriorate if there is an excess of load over available generation. If there is an excess of load over generation ratio, the frequency decreases. It is generally recognised that a sudden drop in generating capacity results in a drop in frequency. This drop is not immediate, but rather, happens gradually.

One way to attain the balance between generation and load, before the decaying frequency affects performance, is to increase generation. However this isn’t always possible practically due to system limitations or due to time constraints. So, a more common method is to employ Automatic Under-Frequency Load Shedding (AUFLS). What this does is that it employs a quick and effective means of attaining a balance of generation and load. The application of AUFLS relays throughout the load area, preset to drop increments of load at specific values of low frequency, provides a simple and direct method of minimizing service interruption and alleviating system overloads.

The Load Shedding function provides under-frequency protection at the main distribution substation. As system frequency decreases, load is disconnected in discrete steps according to frequency thresholds. Protective relays are used for automatic gradually under-frequency load shedding. Under and over-frequency relays are specified by frequency settings and delays. And all this can be incorporated by using IoT Gateway which requires minimum system integration and is fully compatible with most of the applications.

7Jun

IoT in Utilities

by Team Digireach

 

IoT is considered as the next industrial revolution, Industry 4.0. The concept of IoT is to develop advanced solutions and services, enhance productivity & efficiency, solve critical problems, and improve real-time decisions. IoT is changing industry business models, and the utility industry is investing in IoT technology to transform its operations and enhance customer experience. IoT connected utilities can monitor and regulate operations in real-time to maximize efficiency and perform preventive maintenance. Moreover, IoT accelerates digital transformation in utilities.

Implementation of IoT can drastically change the direction the utility industry is headed towards. Many utility companies are on the verge if adopting IoT. Simply the investment in smart grid, smart meters, and home automation can allow utility companies to comprehensively recapture the energy industry and drive top-line growth.

When the utility industry adopts IoT, it connects with the consumer, with the grid, with the world, on a whole new scale. There’s a huge influx of data that can be harnessed to improve services. Companies can utilize smart meters and grids to optimize how the power is distributed. These systems enable greater forecasting capabilities, thereby driving down costs of generation through more efficient scheduling and reliability in the grid, as well as enabling customers to foresee spending patterns and better plan their energy usage over time.

A few applications and benefits of IoT in utilities:

  1. Smart meters are IoT-connected sensors on consumer utility lines. These report data back directly to the company, enabling real-time monitoring and analyzing of data. This can also alert company of maintenance issues and help resolve issues quicker.
  2. Condition-based maintenance routines can be improved by utilities using sensors which measure performance. Data is collected via communication networks to pinpoint problems and predict possible issues using analytics.
  3. Smart buildingscan control light and temperature in real time for maximum comfort and efficiency using interconnected sensors and building control systems.
  4. Precise water irrigation systemswith IoT sensors, including trickle and subsurface methods, greatly reduce water consumption and have the ability to integrate with utility demand response systems.
16Mar

Do Solar panels and Smart meters make good partners?

by Team Digireach

By now, we’ve all heard about the Internet of Things. This concept involves connecting mundane devices to a grid, thus enabling them to communicate either with each other or a central base.

IoT is user friendly. The daunting factor of technology is omitted by the simple measure of providing an interface that compacts heavy technological information into short, precise capsules that can be accessed with just one click. Mobile phones are the most popular choices for the interface but there are a lot of options that are available to suit different needs.

IoT’s biggest achievement is the ability to monitor devices remotely and take the necessary actions. The ramifications of this power is astounding. For one, it gives us a way to solve the current crisis of global warming that could mean the end of our existence by enabling us to use inexhaustible sources of energy like Solar power. Solar panels require constant maintenance and checks to function smoothly which is impractical in terms of cost labour and viability. Remote monitoring changes that scenario drastically.

With the increasing popularity of smart meters provided with the current electricity supply system, it was only natural for solar companies to also jump on to the bandwagon and provide customers with its myriad benefits.

So what are the advantages of smart meters?

It is installed at no extra cost.

It saves time and human resources by eliminating the need to manually check meters.

Smart meters give an exact record of electricity used and hence allows companies to charge accordingly as opposed to bills calculated on estimated usage.

But how beneficial has this really been for solar energy users?

While solar panels and smart meters are definitely compatible, there have been issues that have resulted in irate customers.

Foremost among the complaints are that bills are calculated on the basis of estimated usage or on the amount of electricity supplied. This happens because supplier does not get accurate export data from the network that connects them to customers’ smart meters. As a result, bills get doubled or tripled.

Getting a smart meter installed isn’t compulsory. You can hang on to your old meters as long as they function well.

But all hope is not lost. The benefits of smart meters can still be accessed with the help of the Internet of Things.

With IoT’s characteristic detailed monitoring and hyper alertness for any discrepancies, it is possible for solar energy providers to circumvent the problems of inaccurate billing. The quality of service and billing accuracy really depends on the supplier you choose so always ensure that you research your solar energy provider in detail.

 

 

 

 

25Feb

IoT in the energy sector

by Team Digireach

Since the advent of the Internet of Things, the world has seen many fantastic seeming ideas transforming into reality. From ideas that are merely flashy, to life changing events that impact our very existence as a race, life as we know it is changing its shape. It is no wonder that this era is touted as the fourth industrial revolution.

One of the biggest benefits of IoT is that we can turn away from harmful exhaustible sources of fuel to more sustainable ones like solar energy. This gives us the chance to combat global warming and undo the damage that has already been caused.

So how does IoT help us do that?

The Internet of Things is a concept that equips ordinary devices with an Internet connection to enable them to capture data, communicate and compare. While solar energy had captivated the world’s imagination, it previously wasn’t very viable because it needed to be monitored closely and its components adjusted accordingly to be of real use. Now an Internet connection enables that and much more.

For IoT to be truly effective, energy companies need to decide how it can be used to maximum effect. What data should be captured, how the gathered data should be handled and what is the best way to deal with problems are just a few of the factors to be considered.

The main focus for companies is to lower costs and keep upgrading services. Manual checks have become redundant and more expensive without even the assurance of accuracy. Now everything can be monitored remotely. It’s quick and convenient and requires low investment. A company’s profit is directly proportional to its understanding of customers.

Naturally, with these tools, company representatives can figure out the problem and its solution before it is actually reported by customers.

Apart from providing good and timely services, the company’s biggest worry is if the amount of power produced is equal to the power consumed. An imbalance in this regard is obviously wasteful.

Hopefully, Zero-Net Buildings, a product of IoT, AI, solar, batteries, and LED light systems, will soon become the norm rather than a little known rarity. These buildings are designed such that power produced is equal to power consumed. The result is lower bills and lesser emissions.

Another invention that stems from IoT and conserves energy is the Digital Twin that seems to have emerged straight out of an Iron Man movie. This technology creates a digital simulation of the physical machine with the help of sensors, AI, IoT, spatial movement graphs and Machine Learning. This simulation mimics the real life object/human and makes it easy to handlers to observe and improve in real time.

Despite the global situation at hand, the future is bright and warm. And it is in our hands to make it possible.

 

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