No battery, no problem

Jan. 21, 2020
"Replacing batteries can become a constant game of Whac-A-Mole."

Brian Alessi from Everactive discusses the benefits of batteryless sensors in the modern manufacturing space. Take a look…

Smart Industry: How are modern sensors changing manufacturing and enabling digital transformation?

Brian: Modern wireless sensors let manufacturers collect vast new data sets—from environmental conditions to asset health to precise location—that provide a more comprehensive picture of what's going on within their operations. The next order

Everactive's Brian Alessi

challenge is analyzing that data so it can provide actionable insights…the "so what" portion of the equation that enables manufacturers to actually improve performance based on what the data says. So, it's 1) vast new data streams + 2) actionable insights that creates a compelling digital transformation.   

Smart Industry: What does a batteryless sensor enable that a traditional sensor cannot do? 

Brian: Scale, reach and cost-effective deployments. A traditional battery-powered sensor installed to reduce maintenance costs bears its own maintenance costs in the form of battery replacements. Best case, you simply will not capture all of those "application-specific" maintenance savings. Worst case, the battery maintenance outweighs the "application-specific" maintenance savings. Savings aside, worrying about battery-powered sensors (and their necessary maintenance cycles) at any meaningful plant-wide scale is a logistical nightmare. We all know the pain of the smoke-detector chirp in our homes. Imagine dealing with that on a scale of thousands or tens of thousands of devices? Replacing batteries can become a constant game of Whac-A-Mole, all for devices that are supposed to save time and money!  

Smart Industry: Provide some examples of applications for batteryless sensors.  

Brian: At first, Everactive is going after cross-industry, high-volume assets where we can demonstrate a clear ROI. Examples include steam systems, motors, pumps and other vibrating machinery. Because of our ability to scale with zero added maintenance, we can cost-effectively monitor the "balance of plant" assets that others are unable or unwilling to monitor. As our wireless range moves past 1km, we will be able to monitor more exotic assets and systems, especially things like remote pipelines. We're also building locationing into our next-gen products, giving us the ability to not only determine the condition of an asset, but also the location. Our indefinite power also lets us monitor assets for long periods of time, so you can imagine some interesting applications there.   

Smart Industry: How do you define the "self-sustaining" sensor? 

Brian: It's a sensor device that is truly set-and-forget…a device that can be deployed and never require any human intervention, all the while remaining powered and transmitting.

Smart Industry: Do these tools ease the launch/maintenance of IIoT initiatives?

Brian: It's getting there. We think that solving the "battery problem" is a critical first technological step. A second consideration is getting rid of all the integration challenges, which is why we offer an out-of-the-box, end-to-end solution. Most manufacturers do not have the time or expertise to cobble together sensors, wireless protocols, data platforms, etc. Again, these solutions are supposed to save time and money. We think we've made it extremely straightforward by getting rid of the battery and handling all of the technology integrations for our customers.