Remote Condition Monitoring with IoT and SMS Alerts

By monitoring assets with IoT devices, real-time data is tracked continuously and can indicate personal issues even before they occur.

Rob Lauer

Director of Developer Relations

How much money do you think your business could save by predicting maintenance schedules and mechanical failures? Within a 3-year period, over 80% of manufacturing companies experience downtime with an average cost of $2 million - and that’s with a downtime of about 4 hours. By monitoring assets with IoT devices, real-time data is tracked continuously and can indicate potential issues even before they occur.

When building IoT device prototypes, it’s best to use a Blues Wireless Notecard System on a Module. It’s the quickest and most cost-effective way to add connectivity, so you can spend your time building features that solve business problems. Simply plug Notecard into an M.2 connector and it’ll connect your device to the cellular network automatically, ready to transmit and receive data even in areas where Wi-Fi is unavailable.

You can build a fully functional IoT remote conditioning monitor prototype for less than $300, using only 5 hardware components.

 

Texts alerting the hot tub's water quality is out of acceptable ranges

Rob Lauer

Using IoT Devices for Predictive Maintenance

This Hackster project was built as an IoT water quality monitoring system, and the analog sensors measure pH, ORP (Oxygen Reduction Potential), and TDS (Total Dissolved Solids). However, the device can be built with different sensors to evaluate the condition of machines, equipment, and elements such as air or water. All you need to do is identify the signals of pending maintenance and detect those conditions. Some common maintenance signals are:

  • Increased vibration or vibration of a particular frequency (mechanical devices)
  • Presence or absence of fluid (mechanical or environmental devices)
  • Air flow rate (workloads where air pressure or air flow must be maintained)
  • Increased dissolved solids in suspension (fluid quality, like hot tubs)

Predictive maintenance is becoming the preferred approach over routine or time-based methods because tasks are performed only when necessary, saving unnecessary service calls or truck rolls. Plus, making repairs before something breaks is more efficient and saves money. Predictive maintenance with IoT devices:

  • Avoids downtime
  • Minimizes collateral damage and complexity of repairs
  • Extends the life of your assets
  • Maintains compliance and regulatory standards
  • Improves materials and inventory management

Using the information below, this is the easiest way to build an IoT remote condition monitoring device prototype with SMS alerts.

 

 

Losant dashboard showing data over time

How Blues Wireless Improves Predictive Maintenance Devices

Blues Wireless is the simplest way to add wireless connectivity to a device. In 30 minutes, you can go from unboxing to sending arbitrary data over a global cellular network, with no configuration needed. Given the many complexities in addressing predictive maintenance using IoT Devices, it makes sense to use pre-built System on a Module (SOM) technology with zero-configuration provisioning for connectivity.

In the image below, you’ll see a left-to-right depiction of how sensor data moves from an edge device to a cloud application. Blues Wireless provides the infrastructure for bidirectional communication between edge devices and cloud endpoints via a combination of hardware and software. On the hardware side, in the host device, Blues Wireless Notecard provides an internal endpoint for sensor data. Notecard securely transmits the sensor data to the customer’s preferred cloud endpoint via Blues Wireless Notehub, an intermediary cloud application. Notehub provides protocol translation, transport security, data routing, device management, and device firmware update capability.

Blues Wireless device-to-cloud ecosystem diagram

Behind the Remote Condition Monitoring Project

If you’re looking for a device that can collect time series data and send SMS alerts, this is the best project to follow. You can find the complete source code for the project at the GitHub repository linked below and the full project instructions on Hackster.

GitHub: https://github.com/rdlauer/hot-tub-time-series-machine

Hackster: https://www.hackster.io/rob-lauer/debugging-a-hot-tub-time-series-machine-92e44f

 

Cost: $292.90

Project Time: 6 hours

Lines of Code: 30

Languages: C++

 

All the hardware for the water quality monitoring hot tub sensor project

Rob Lauer

Hardware

Software apps and online services

The main parts of this project are:

  1. Setting up your sensors for data collection
  2. Establishing alert thresholds
  3. Securely routing data to the cloud with Notehub.io
  4. Routing data as SMS alerts with Notehub.io and Twilio
  5. Building your dashboard
Water quality diagram flow

 

Notehub event data example
Losant workflow diagram

Building a Cloud-Based Dashboard

One of the more complicated parts of the process is building the cloud-based dashboard. Losant provides application templates to build your own development process. There are 5 distinct steps involved when building out a way to ingest and report data within Losant:

  1. Set up an Application
  2. Set up a Device
  3. Create a Webhook
  4. Create a Workflow
  5. Create a Dashboard

For this project, start with a “Blank Application”, then add a “Standalone” device. In this case, the device is the Blues Wireless Notecard. Using JSONata, you can specify all the data attributes that will flow from the Notecard to the cloud via Notehub.io.

Then, create a webhook that triggers a workflow to process the incoming data. When the webhook is created, you are provided a “trigger URL” that serves as the base URL used in the Notehub.io route mentioned above.

Next, you’ll need the workflow to process the incoming data. Using Losant’s Node-RED inspired workflow engine, creating a workflow is simple:

Finally, you’ll create a dashboard comprised of one or more blocks. Every dashboard is unique, and you can create blocks with gauges or displays for whatever data your sensors are collecting.

For technical support with the Blues Wireless Notecard and Notecarrier, please visit dev.blues.io.

Other Remote Condition Monitor Applications

  • Detecting mosquito breeding conditions in water and triggering an agitation cycle.
  • Greenhouse environment monitoring.
  • Quality monitoring and smart metering for water utility companies.
  • Predicting maintenance cycles of physical equipment and machinery from microscopes to wind turbines in medical and industrial settings.
  • Monitoring fire hydrant pressure, municipal water quality, or garbage can fill levels in smart cities.

Ready to Discuss Your Project With Us?

Blues Wireless makes it easy to make connected devices. In the article above, you’ve seen how little effort it takes to build an initial proof-of-concept device that reports sensor data over the cellular network. In some cases, it’s best to start with one of our proof-of-concept applications, then swap out sensors or cloud apps until you get what you want. In others, it would be best to take a different tact entirely.

We can help. Schedule a consultation with a Blues Wireless Project Expert to discuss your project idea with you and help you find the shortest path to a proof-of-concept device to get your product or device connected to your cloud.

Contact Us

Frequently Asked Questions

    I need to measure different data. How can I customize this device?

    By adding a host MCU, you are able to capture any type of information and communicate it to the Notecard using our JSON interface over UART or I2C.

    If you have questions about acquisition or compatibility, please Contact Us.
    Which microcontrollers does the Blues Wireless Notecard support?

    The Notecard is compatible with any microcontroller (MCU) from an 8-bit Arduino to 32-bit ESP32 or STM32 and every major Single Board Computer (SBC) platform. Some popular examples include the Adafruit Huzzah32, STM32 Nucleo, Arduino Nano, ESP32-WROOM, among many others. The Notecard communicates over either I2C or UART, so it acts as a peripheral that you can connect to a product’s existing I2C bus or UART connection.

    It’s also possible to communicate with the Notecard from any embedded language, including compiled languages like C and C++, to interpreted languages like Python and JavaScript.

    Which cellular networks does the Blues Wireless Notecard utilize?

    Different models of the Blues Wireless Notecard are available that connect to LTE-M, NB-IoT, and Cat-1 networks globally. When LTE-M, NB-IoT, or Cat-1 aren’t available, the Notecard is also supported by UMTS/HSPA+ and GSM/GPRS/EDGE wireless standards.

    I need a fleet of devices. Are there options for me to buy a larger quantity?

    Yes! Blues Wireless can support your project whether you need 10 devices or 10,000. We also have relationships with device building firms and contract manufacturers to help bring your vision to life.

    Please Contact Us.
    Which countries does the Blues Wireless Notecard support?

    Global coverage is available in 135 countries, with direct support provided by leading providers and carriers. For a full list, please see our documentation article on Notecard’s supported countries.

    Which wireless standards are used by the Blues Wireless Notecard?

    Various Notecard models are available that connect to LTE-M, NB-IoT, and Cat-1 networks. In global regions without these capabilities, coverage is also supported by UMTS/HSPA+ and GSM/GPRS/EDGE wireless standards.

    Does the Blues Wireless Notecard require a Notecarrier to function?

    No! The Blues Wireless Notecard is a small 30mm x 35mm system on module (SoM) that is able to be embedded in any IoT project on its own via its M.2 edge connector.

    However, Blues Wireless provides a variety of Notecarrier host boards for easily adding cellular connectivity to a new or existing IoT solution for prototyping purposes. The Notecarrier also provides antennae for both the GPS and cellular capabilities of the Cellular Notecard (and the cellular antenna is also compatible with the Wi-Fi Notecard).

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