Monitoring 100 year old factory processes are hard, but it gets easier, safer and more reliable with a network of nRF24L01 RF transmitters.
The modern factory process relies heavily on digital technology to monitor different parts of the facility. With digital technology, factories have become safer, more productive and easier to operate. This technology is taken for granted which becomes evident when you visit older and older factories. I work at an 18th century grist mill where electricity is scarcely used. Flat belts and pulleys transmit power from line shafts to machinery, and the majority of our machinery is made of wood, cut by hand and assembled in the early 1900s. When I was asked to develop a network of sensors to monitor the different parts of my job’s factory process, I jumped at the opportunity to bring my workplace into the 21st century.
The mill can be thought of as one big machine with many smaller processes happening simultaneously. Therefore, we needed a variety of sensors that can oversee these processes and alert us when something isn’t working the way it should. The initial sensors included at the project’s launch take measurements inside a grain bin to figure out how full it is, monitor the 0-10v dc output of an AC Tech SMVector controller, and take temperature and humidity readings of various parts of the building. Future sensors will include spout flow meters that measure the grain flowing through a spout, magnetic switches on 2 way valves that record which spouting the grain moves through, and temperature sensors on line shaft bearings that let us know how hot a bearing has become.
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