How Sensors and Wireless Technologies Can Benefit Businesses

Applied Tech Review | Thursday, July 22, 2021

Numerous sensors and communication protocols can serve industrial networks based on the necessary level of reliability, latency, and flexibility.

FREMONT, CA: Wireless sensor networks (WSNs) are used in almost every application, from wired home and smart wearables to Industry 4.0 and innovative city applications. They use remotely controlled actuators to automate simple manual works and emerging microelectromechanical-systems (MEMS) sensors to monitor and track conditions. Such simple, energy-constrained devices have many potentials for data collection and data analytics to better understand person, machine, and even plant systems.

To help the various sensor nodes in industrial IoT (IIoT), short-range wireless solutions, cellular, and low-power wide-area networks (LPWANs) can be used. The type of industrial communications to use is determined by whether the procedure is time-sensitive and requires real-time data or is non-time critical and requires periodic or infrequent transmissions.

Various IIoT use cases in which several sensor technologies or communication protocols can be brought to bear, based on the industrial application.

Process Monitoring

Process monitoring is probably the most common use case for industrial WSNs (IWSNs), as it needs the deployment and tracking of numerous sensor nodes over long distances. Predictive maintenance techniques that systematically reduce factory downtime and save on operating overhead are made possible by this unified method of monitoring business operations.


Since tracking common faults is crucial to maintain optimum machine equipment efficiency, hyper-specialized equipment is used in the IIoT. Even though a high-end computer numerical control (CNC) device can conduct precision machining on a large scale, it can also suffer from standard spindle unbalance issues.

By collecting vibration data, accelerometers may track and detect such machine-tool failures. By distinguishing the ultrasonic acoustic emissions resulting from metal deterioration, ultrasonic and acoustic emission systems can monitor damage within the spindle's bearings before any visible vibrations occur.


Oil and gas companies keep track of assets like pipelines over long distances. Leaks and ruptures are avoided at every cost in this application to prevent possible loss of life and environmental damage. Construction or manufacturing faults, damage during installation, erosion, and earth forces such as earthquakes, landslips, and landslides are potential failure modes of pipelines.

By measuring flow-induced vibrations, external accelerometers can control the pipeline's flow rate. Ultrasonic detection or transverse magnetic flux leakage may be used to monitor cracks. Corrosion failures can be avoided using a variety of sensors and technologies such as RFID and fiber optics. Seismic sensors can provide a subsurface map for offshore drilling rigs, allowing them to operate more efficiently.

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