WePower Demos Energy Harvesting Generator Prototypes at CES 2024

WePower introduced itself to me (and the world) at CES 2023. Way back when process instrumentation companies were developing wireless sensors (remember the “wireless wars”?) the big question was battery life. I was just searching for the first energy harvesting company I interviewed. I guess it was published at Automation World rather than my blog.

Technology progresses. WePower unveiled some cool energy harvesting generator (EHG) tech last year. They are back at CES this year with three additional products.

Wireless, batteryless Gemns EHGs from WePower harvest energy from motion and convert it into usable electricity for small-scale data transmission devices like sensors across a wide range of applications. This waste-free transient power generation is critical to the growth of the IoT, especially in the United States where consumers throw away more than three billion batteries a year.

  • G100 Push-Button Switch: This 22mm push-button switch uses permanent and oscillating magnets to capture kinetic energy at a rate of more than 30 times that of the competition, and convert it to usable electricity, enabling a transmission output exceeding 8 dBm. This extra power enables data transmissions of significantly larger size, complexity, and distance across most advanced communication protocols, including ISM, Bluetooth, LoRa, Z-Wave, Thread, and Matter. The G100 push-button has been tested for a lifespan of over one million activations and is ideal for applications in industrial settings, smart home, and smart building environments.
  • G150 Vibration-Activated EHG: This continuous operation EHG component draws power from vibrations to drive its functionality as a sensor. WePower will demo this component using a speaker with variable vibration to showcase the product’s ability to harvest energy continuously while also registering and communicating the vibrations’ magnitudes. This combination of functionalities make the G150 EHG an ideal solution for applications in the mining and automotive industries where any variation in production line performance must be caught and communicated.
  • Industrial Limit Switch with G200: Designed to integrate seamlessly with industrial limit switches, the G200 EHG powers secure wireless transmissions across a diverse range of chips and is compatible with most advanced communication protocols. The principal unique benefit of the G200 is its substantially higher power output compared to current market offerings, enabling a game-changing two-way communication in industrial settings. This capability allows networks to confirm the receipt of safety-critical transmissions, ensuring that vital communications are both uninterrupted and verified, wirelessly and without the need for batteries—ultimately streamlining operations, reducing risk, and cutting down on waste.

Betacom, Google Cloud and Ingram Micro Create Innovation Showcase for Industry 4.0 at MxD

Betacom executives have been talking regularly with me about the company’s many wireless projects especially in manufacturing. This news release highlights working with MxD (Manufacturing x Digital), the National Center for Cybersecurity in Manufacturing along with Google Cloud and Ingram Micro. A case for partnerships advancing applications for practical use.

Private wireless pioneer Betacom, along with Google Cloud and Ingram Micro, today unveiled an exhibition of Industry 4.0 innovations at MxD (Manufacturing x Digital), the National Center for Cybersecurity in Manufacturing, that are redefining efficiency, productivity and competitiveness in manufacturing and supply chain industries. From smart automation and machine vision to predictive analytics and real-time inventory tracking, the technology leaders are showcasing real solutions for some of today’s most in-demand use cases, powered by private 5G, artificial intelligence (AI) and cloud technology.

The interactive exhibit is part of a collaborative effort to equip manufacturers with digital tools and expertise needed to increase productivity and strengthen U.S. manufacturing. By bringing together diverse technologies and device manufacturers on the Factory Floor Lab, Betacom, Google Cloud and Ingram Micro aim to accelerate manufacturers’ automation and digitalization initiatives by demonstrating complete solutions that are available today.

Betacom became a partner of MxD in 2022 to provide the organization’s Chicago headquarters with a fully managed private 5G network built on Zero Trust design principles. The network, one of the first indoor private 5G deployments in the U.S., is the foundation to develop and enable technologies that power Industry 4.0, including several application areas on display in this joint showcase:

  • Smart Manufacturing – How machine vision, AI, data analytics, robotics, 5G and other technologies are revolutionizing manufacturing processes through automation to improve the efficiency, output quality and uptime of modern production lines.
  • Digital Workforce – How mobile devices and productivity tools enabled by AI, machine learning and assisted reality capabilities can streamline worker tasks, automate visual inspection and enable new levels of remote collaboration on and off the factory floor.
  • Resilient Supply Chain – How cloud based data analytics can help manufacturers understand  supply chain risks to improve demand planning and optimize execution, as well as how wireless technologies are enhancing inventory and asset tracking applications to provide end-to-end visibility from production to delivery.
  • Safety and Security – How today’s solutions are protecting critical assets and data from physical and cyberthreats, as well as creating safer workplaces for employees in hazardous environments.

The exhibit is open year-round. Learn more about the technology exhibit or to schedule a meeting for an onsite demonstration with our experts.

Siemens Private 5G Solution for Industry

TV with advertisements seldom plays in my house. But I just saw a cable provider advertising 10G connectivity. That, of course, it a completely made up marketing phrase. But 5G is a real thing. I’ve written several times about the potential, and some real applications, of private 5G networks. Infrastructure supporting such networks continues to be built out. This news from Siemens discusses their new 5G infrastructure solution specifically to support automation.

Main points:

  • Infrastructure for private industrial 5G networks with a focus on automation applications
  • The solution is already in use at Siemens plants and pilot customers like Salzgitter AG
  • 5G is crucial for mobile robots, autonomous logistics, driverless transport systems, and edge devices

Siemens is launching a private infrastructure developed in-house for the 5G mobile communications standard. The solution enables industrial companies to build their own local 5G networks that will provide optimal support for automation applications. 

“By building their own 5G networks, industrial companies are launching the next stage of connected production,” says Axel Lorenz, CEO of Process Automation at Siemens. “5G is crucial for applications like mobile robots, autonomous logistics, and driverless transport systems in factories. Siemens’ private 5G infrastructure also gives users sole control over the data in their 5G network at all times, and they can custom-configure the network for their applications.”

Other scenarios for industrial 5G wireless technology include the integrated use of connected tablets, VR glasses, and smart tools. In addition, edge devices can be used flexibly: for example, in brownfield applications where it’s difficult to lay cables. In contrast to other wireless technologies, private 5G networks use a licensed frequency band and can therefore be operated without interference.

Siemens has developed its 5G infrastructure specifically for the requirements of industrial customers and industrial applications. It consists of a 5G core and a radio access network (RAN). The RAN includes the central unit (CU), the distributed unit (DU), and the radio units (RUs). Different 5G end-devices can connect to the 5G infrastructure and communicate in the private network. The all-in-one 5G solution is also designed for use in harsh industrial environments.

Before the market launch, Siemens extensively tested its private 5G infrastructure in real production environments like at the Siemens production site in Karlsruhe. By implementing and operating the prototype network in its own production facilities, Siemens was able to extensively test and refine the technology, ensuring that it can withstand the requirements of industrial production environments and support industrial applications. The private Siemens 5G infrastructure is now available in Germany, and other countries will follow. 

One of the pilot customers for the complete 5G solution is the German steel group Salzgitter AG: “We don’t just want to build any 5G network, we want an industrial 5G that meets the enormous requirements of the steel industry,” says Gerd Baresch, Chief Technology Officer at Salzgitter Flachstahl GmbH. “Wherever we need to wirelessly transmit data reliably and securely – from real-time camera images to safety-relevant emergency-stop signals for driverless transport systems – we need future-proof communication technology. Siemens has been a longstanding reliable partner for network solutions, and this is precisely why we decided to work with them.”

Private 5G networks, also known as campus networks, are 5G networks restricted to a defined company premises, a defined area, or an individual building. From Siemens’ point of view, private 5G networks offer many advantages for industry: Companies build them locally at their locations and can precisely modify them to meet their needs and applications. Companies also have full control over their data, because private 5G networks use their own local 5G spectrum. A private 5G infrastructure like the one offered by Siemens is required for building a local 5G network and making the 5G signal available on the company’s premises.

Siemens has been offering industrial 5G routers like the SCALANCE MUM853-1 and MUM856-1 for connecting robots, AGVs, and other industrial devices to a private 5G network since 2021. These routers are the final components necessary for efficient wireless connectivity in industrial environments.

Rockwell Automation Partners with Everactive For Condition Monitoring

I had just about given up on more news and innovation on the sensing side of automation and IoT, and then news arrives from Rockwell Automation about another hardware partnership. The company is partnering with Everactive for wireless and battery-less condition monitoring solutions.

Everactive’s solutions will complement Rockwell Automation’s Dynamix product line. The integrated system will provide data to Rockwell’s FactoryTalk MaintenanceSuite for asset monitoring, condition-based monitoring, and predictive maintenance programs.

“We’re excited about this partnership with Everactive. The data produced by Everactive’s condition-monitoring sensors can be used by our FactoryTalk analytics, monitoring and maintenance platforms, to increase uptime, quality, and customer profitability,” said Brian Merdes, vice president & general manager, sensing, safety, and industrial control, Rockwell Automation. “Additionally, Everactive’s energy harvesting technology allows sensors to run continuously with zero battery maintenance, which ultimately decreases our customers’ carbon footprint.” 

“We are thrilled to join forces with Rockwell Automation, addressing the difficult problem of monitoring balance-of-plant assets,” says Bob Nunn, CEO, Everactive.”Solutions developed by Rockwell and Everactive will provide sustainable options for wireless condition monitoring users looking for productivity in their operations. Together, we can generate more insights from more places within an operation, bringing unparalleled efficiency and sustainability to enterprises globally.” 

Nokia partners with DXC Technology to Launch DXC Signal Private LTE and 5G Solution

Communications companies hit me up a few years ago about what they saw as their next breakthrough market—private 5G networks. These seemed to have a natural fit within industrial and manufacturing companies with a large footprint. There have been a few installations. I’m not hearing about a true breakthrough—yet.

Yet, tech companies continue to build out their technologies and partnerships. This news concerns Nokia and DXC Technology announcing the availability of DXC Signal Private LTE and 5G, a managed secure private wireless network and digitalization platform solution that helps industrial enterprises digitally transform their operations.

  • Companies to provide world-class private wireless networking solutions to propel organizations into the future
  • New solution designed for key market segments including manufacturing, energy, healthcare, supply chain and logistics, transportation, and education

This partnership offers high-bandwidth, low-latency wireless networks to support increased automation, enhanced flexibility, operational technology (OT) data processing, and privacy needs.

This advanced solution integrates Nokia Digital Automation Cloud (DAC) and Nokia MX Industrial Edge (MXIE) with DXC Platform X.

Qualcomm Adds New IoT Solutions

Qualcomm’s product development department has been busy extending the chip-maker’s presence in the smart device market. This news release announces what they term to be next-generation IoT devices. The new devices are Qualcomm QCS8550, Qualcomm QCM8550, Qualcomm® QCS4490 and Qualcomm® QCM4490 Processors.

  • The new Qualcomm QCS8550 and Q/CM8550 Processors combine maximum compute power, extreme edge AI processing, Wi-Fi 7 connectivity, and vivid graphics and video to enable and quickly deploy performance-heavy IoT applications, such as autonomous mobile robots and industrial drones.
  • The Qualcomm QCS4490 and QCM4490 Processors deliver key advanced features such as premium connectivity and next-gen processing to industrial handheld and computing devices. The solutions are equipped with both 5G and Wi-Fi 6E for multi-gigabit speeds, extended range, and low latency, and powerful, efficient processing to handle complex computing tasks. The Qualcomm QCS4490 and QCM4490 Processors are designed with planned support for Android releases through version 18, meaning they can be used in industrial designs through 2030, providing flexibility and longevity for maximizing development time and cost savings.

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