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issue: March 2005 APPLIANCE Magazine

Technology Report
Sensor-to-Network Smart Interface


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The company’s remote system Network Enabled Equipment Monitors (NEEMs) are said to take the place of multiple sensor devices, transforming conventional sensors into “smart sensors.”

The NEEM 112 unit is said to simplify the connection of analog sensors to networks without the use of special sensors or programming, according to Sensor Synergy, Inc. The self-contained unit can monitor up to 10 sensors and reportedly installs in less than 30 min.

Sensor Synergy, Inc (Buffalo Grove, IL, U.S.) says its NEEM models 112, 115, and 118 incorporate the functions of several devices, including a data acquisition system, data conditioner, data logger, micro-web server, electronic data sheet server, and web log, all in one unit to provide simple remote-sensor communication via the Internet.

According to Dr. James Wiczer, president and founder of Sensory Synergy, the NEEM units contain internal analog to digital conversion (ACR) circuitry that enable connectivity of various types of analog sensor signals to input connectors. The NEEM then converts data into a digital translation and formats the information through a network. Data is then displayed, through a software interface, in graphical or table forms.

“The unit accepts seven different types of analog signals and converts the signals to a digital representation,” Dr. Wiczer explains. “Each digital representation—sample of the analog data stream—is stored in on-board Flash memory for 1 year. A remote user with a standard Internet web browser can select the micro-web server’s Internet Protocol (IP) address and query the NEEM unit for current sensor data.”

The technology, says Dr. Wiczer, is based on standard IEEE 1451.2 smart sensor interface technology and eliminates the need to develop custom integrated circuits to add network capabilities to an analog sensor. “This technology enhances commercial-off-the-shelf-sensors with micro-web server network access, electronic data sheets, correction engine compensation, on-board data storage, and other features typically associated with smart sensor technologies,” he tells APPLIANCE.

With application uses ranging from HVAC equipment to production equipment, the broad functionality of the NEEM unit provides remote monitoring that indicates failure, inefficient operation, need for near-term service, and usage information, in addition to sending e-mail alerts of abnormal behavior. In HVAC applications, the company says the NEEM can remotely indicate the need for an air filter change, equipment failure, and inefficiency due to too many on-off cycles. Additionally, the unit can provide immediate feedback of energy conservation for cost reductions.

“The NEEM unit enhances the response of sensors from a simple numerical value to a more complete report, including numerical value for the sensor output, information about sensor location, use, manufacture, and calibration information,” Dr. Wiczer says. “Different classes of equipment utilize different types of sensors to detect imminent failure, but the NEEM unit can frequently accommodate a broad range of sensor types.”

 

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