Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Taking sensor network technology to a smarter level

08.03.2006


Barrels of chemicals that ‘talk’ to each other to improve safety and smart shelves that automatically log inventory changes are just some of the ways businesses stand to benefit from new sensor network technology currently being developed in Europe.

The IST-funded CoBIs project is going a step beyond existing Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) systems – the generally passive smart tags used to identify goods, pets and even people - to create Collaborative Business Items (CoBIs) that can shift a substantial part of business processes from resource-intensive back-end systems to systems embedded in the products themselves. With sensors, wireless communication and computing components attached, the goods or equipment become smart – chemical drums will warn operators when the storage limit in a warehouse is reached, if a leak occurs or if one is placed in the wrong location.

“What we are doing is making sensor network technology useful to businesses by creating a system that responds to the need for real-time information. It allows goods to act and react automatically to changes at the local level, and warn operators of the change,” CoBIs coordinator Stephan Haller at SAP Research in Germany explains.



Targeting the petrochemical industry as likely early adopters

Though CoBIs has a potentially limitless number of usage scenarios, the project is concentrating on employing them in the petrochemical industry, which is likely to be an early adopter of the technology.

The system will be tested at a BP plant in Hull in the United Kingdom later this year where the sensor nodes will be attached to barrels of chemicals and used to monitor compliance with safety regulations on the storage of hazardous materials. If all goes well, Haller estimates that the full system - including middleware components and an application development environment - could be adopted commercially in the industry within three to five years.

In the chemical sector, where even the slightest mistake in managing an inventory of volatile materials could mean disaster, that will undoubtedly lead to increased safety.

Unlike most RFID systems – an emerging technology in its own right – that mainly work passively to distinguish between tagged objects with their own unique identifier, CoBIs-enabled objects work actively by incorporating embedded sensing, computing and wireless short-range communication. They can monitor the state and environmental conditions of the goods they are attached to, communicate peer-to-peer and collaborate to observe conditions that no single sensor would be able to detect, and they can feed the information into back-end systems automatically within the project’s service-oriented architecture.

In the usage scenario for BP, this will not only provide automatic inventory tracking of chemical drums but will set off visual and audio alarms embedded in the sensors and in the storage facility if too many drums are stored together or incorrectly. The sensors could also be used to monitor the environmental conditions chemicals are subjected to during transportation or storage, allowing companies to detect a shipment that may have lost its properties and discard it rather than inadvertently – and potentially dangerously – using it in a later production process.

With potential for many other sectors

The same sensor network technology could be applied in other sectors, such as food, pharmaceuticals and healthcare, where monitoring the condition of a product is crucial.

In retail, where RFID is already being used to track inventory and prevent theft, CoBIs could help solve the RFID reader collision problem. RFID readers equipped with CoBIs nodes coordinate duty cycles and power levels autonomously with each other. This allows for a physical reorganisation of the shelves without the need for reconfiguring the RF parameters manually. The ‘adaptive smart shelves’ concept is due to be tested by the project partner Infineon in Austria later this year.

There is also the possibility to use CoBIs to create smart clothing that could be used to protect workers in hazardous environments.

“One idea is that sensors embedded in a suit could be used to check whether a person meets certain conditions to access an area of a factory where a gas leak has occurred, for example. The sensors nodes would communicate with other nodes in the building and in other people’s clothing and equipment to determine access rights to ensure safety regulations are complied with. Only if all required workers with the correct training certificates, and all necessary safety and maintenance equipment are present, would the door open for them,” Haller explains.

Perhaps most importantly for businesses, the CoBIs sensor network is designed to be easy to deploy, highly scalable to meet the needs of different companies and industries, and cost effective.

Tara Morris | alfa
Further information:
http://istresults.cordis.lu/index.cfm/section/news/tpl/article/BrowsingType/Features/ID/80930

More articles from Information Technology:

nachricht New Foldable Drone Flies through Narrow Holes in Rescue Missions
12.12.2018 | Universität Zürich

nachricht NIST's antenna evaluation method could help boost 5G network capacity and cut costs
11.12.2018 | National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)

All articles from Information Technology >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Data use draining your battery? Tiny device to speed up memory while also saving power

The more objects we make "smart," from watches to entire buildings, the greater the need for these devices to store and retrieve massive amounts of data quickly without consuming too much power.

Millions of new memory cells could be part of a computer chip and provide that speed and energy savings, thanks to the discovery of a previously unobserved...

Im Focus: An energy-efficient way to stay warm: Sew high-tech heating patches to your clothes

Personal patches could reduce energy waste in buildings, Rutgers-led study says

What if, instead of turning up the thermostat, you could warm up with high-tech, flexible patches sewn into your clothes - while significantly reducing your...

Im Focus: Lethal combination: Drug cocktail turns off the juice to cancer cells

A widely used diabetes medication combined with an antihypertensive drug specifically inhibits tumor growth – this was discovered by researchers from the University of Basel’s Biozentrum two years ago. In a follow-up study, recently published in “Cell Reports”, the scientists report that this drug cocktail induces cancer cell death by switching off their energy supply.

The widely used anti-diabetes drug metformin not only reduces blood sugar but also has an anti-cancer effect. However, the metformin dose commonly used in the...

Im Focus: New Foldable Drone Flies through Narrow Holes in Rescue Missions

A research team from the University of Zurich has developed a new drone that can retract its propeller arms in flight and make itself small to fit through narrow gaps and holes. This is particularly useful when searching for victims of natural disasters.

Inspecting a damaged building after an earthquake or during a fire is exactly the kind of job that human rescuers would like drones to do for them. A flying...

Im Focus: Topological material switched off and on for the first time

Key advance for future topological transistors

Over the last decade, there has been much excitement about the discovery, recognised by the Nobel Prize in Physics only two years ago, that there are two types...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

ICTM Conference 2019: Digitization emerges as an engineering trend for turbomachinery construction

12.12.2018 | Event News

New Plastics Economy Investor Forum - Meeting Point for Innovations

10.12.2018 | Event News

EGU 2019 meeting: Media registration now open

06.12.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Data use draining your battery? Tiny device to speed up memory while also saving power

14.12.2018 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Tangled magnetic fields power cosmic particle accelerators

14.12.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

In search of missing worlds, Hubble finds a fast evaporating exoplanet

14.12.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>