The IoT Alliance Australia, IoTAA for short, is working to bring standards and performance to IoT in Australia. We contribute to the Manufacturing Working Group and industry events they run.
The Internet of Things Security Awareness Guide is one of the most significant steps forward for IoT in Australia. Sorting out standards and testing processes for IoT devices will put some implementation confidence into authentication, security, data integrity and privacy in IoT devices being deployed to the field and the web services that support them.
This is a classic startup tale where a small team do incredibly good work to get an idea into a demonstrable form and then build a team who can complete the package.
A Melbourne based business came to us with a mechanical prototype operated using 3 Arduino modules and hand wired actuators and drivers that had allowed them to prove the operating principle of their cell processing system. The system was managed by an Excel spreadsheet that allowed them to code the interactions they needed in the spreadsheet itself. This is one of the most impressive uses of Excel as a process controller I’ve seen.
Now they needed us to take that and make it into a robust version that could be transported.
This is a very good example of solving the problems you need to in order to take your next step. This minimise cost now, reduces time to the next step and reduces technical risk.
What we did was to create a set of PCBs that acted as custom shields for the Arduino modules and also provided mechanical support for the drivers, sensors and indicators. The hand soldered wires were replaced by crimped connectors and the whole assembly was now robust enough to put on a plane and allow them to demonstrate to industry experts and potential customers. This they did very successfully.
From Concept Prototype to Production
The next stage was to ditch the Arduino modules and create a more capable embedded system. But they also needed to put together a Control Interface for managing the instrument including in a GMP (Good Manufacturing Practice) environment with laboratory automation, and an editor for creating the programs (recipes) that defined the cell processing steps.
And lastly they also needs to get the manufacturing systems in place and the service support software.
To manage the risks they divided these tasks between 3 different businesses.
Another Melbourne developer did the control interface and also took control of the manufacturing processes. These processes require ISO 13485 Quality Management Systems which they had in place but we do not.
Successful Endeavours did the electronics, embedded software and the communications interfaces that ran on the tablet used for the Control Interface and the Service and Production Support software.
Contactpoint took on the Centrifuge Protocol Builder which is a web based tool that allowed creation of protocols and also simulation of them in use in order to refine them off the machine. This is very important because we are talking about processing human cells and if you mess up a batch you have to get more. Which could involve surgery. Contactpoint have an excellent Centrifuge Protocol Builder case study on their site which I recommend you also check out.
And getting to market
The final step of course is how you sell, distribute and support a product like this which is international in scope. Another great thing they did right was to aim global from day one. So they negotiated and closed a deal with an international distributor who already had the global presence in that market and were able to handle the logistics and presence to support the instrument. The product was launched at the Melbourne ISCT 2019 conference in May 2019.
We wishthem every success with this Designed in Australia, Made in Australia, world first technology product. For us, this one just ticks every box we care about.
IEEE Spectrum has released the results of their survey of programming languages in use in 2020. The results follows the trend for Python as the most used programming language across all platforms.
And we see that C continues to be highly used and tends to still be the dominant language for small embedded systems. Of the top 4 programming languages cited we use C, C++ and Python for our projects.
We have been awarded the Environmental Solution of the Year at the annual Manufacturers Monthly Endeavour Awards. This is for the WaterLink SmartMESH pulse water meter reading IoT AMR system that uses Wirepas mesh networking to reduce monthly communications cost by allowing the water meter readers to form their own local mesh network.
This works particularly well for sites where the wiring for BMS integration isn’t already present and there also isn’t local power for the water meter reading modules. The units are battery operated with 10+ year battery life and capable of reading up to 6 water meters from a single unit. This is great for retrofitting to existing sites and equally useful for new sites where automated readings weren’t considered in the planning or building.
Only the gateways need to be Internet connected and this can be via cellular using the latest Cellular IoT Communications CAT-M1 or NB-IoT 4G technologies.That means no requirement for on site IT provisioning. Just cable tie a unit in place and hook up the pulse probe and it is ready to go.
The pulse probe connectors use screw terminals inside the connector body so you don’t even need those prewired. No mains power needed except for the gateways and they run from plug packs. And with 10+ year battery life they are nearly set and forget. You will get notified when the batteries need replacing so you don’t even need to keep track of that.
There is a web service for reporting hourly water usage including minimum and maximum flow rates. This allows advanced functions such as leak detection. One installation found a 27,000 Litres per day leak the first week it was installed.
The system is in production and the best part from our perspective is that it is Made In Australia. So this is local manufacturing, local jobs and local value creation.
IoT Technology Base
The IoT Technology Base underpinning the product is the key to the Low Power Electronics operation as well as the low cost of manufacturing.
The underpinning communications technologies come from u-blox with their SARA-R410M dual NB-IoT & CAT-M1 cellular module and NINA-B1 low power 2.4GHz radio module, and Wirepas for the most robust industrial grade IoT mesh networking protocol we have ever worked with.
Endeavour Awards Finalists 2020
We are also pleased to have been selected as finalists for:
Most Innovative Manufacturing Company Award
Excellence in Growth
Our congratulations go to all the winners and finalists. You are all making Australia better for your efforts and that is particularly important in a time like this where we have seen the value of local jobs and local and local value creation. Well done.
I presented this case at the IoT Impact 2019 manufacturing stream. I’ll include the main slides for that below. And this is for a product that was Made In Australia, not just because we want to, but because it was the only way it could happen in time.
Collaboration Case Study
The Collaboration Case Study is for the IND Technology Early Fault Detection system that was deployed to a rural SWER Line Monitoring trial as part of the Victorian bush fire amelioration program. This required us to coordinate the program and also do the primary electronics and embedded software design along with our supply partners gearing up for PCB Assembly, Cable and Loom Assembly and mechanical design and production for boxes, mounting and solar panels. All this in parallel with web services. For a new technology category. So we needed to work together very closely.
A Winning Combination covers the project. The story was put together by Connor Pearce of Prime Creative Media.
It takes a team of partners to pull off a project like this. So here are some of the people we collaborated with:
•Buyers want a catalogue for solutions •Catalogues don’t contain a viable solution •There are plenty of sensors available •Hardware platforms don’t fit the opportunity •Software back ends are also often a barrier •Total cost of ownership ends up too high
A possible solution
•Rapid design of a suitable hardware solution •Get it made locally (in Australia) •But the catch is that unless very confident, you don’t invest in this until you get the order •So how quickly can it be done?
•IND Technology EVFD – finds power system faults – reduces outages and bush fires •Got the order for 65 trial units end of July 2017 •For Delivery in November 2017 (< 16 weeks) •For a product not yet designed •With features not yet confirmed eg. turned out most units had to be solar powered
IND Technology EVFD solar powered
Above is an example of one of the solar powered units as built but without the cover plate over the FPGA based processing systems that samples at 250MSPS.
Below is the Collaboration Ecosystem where Collaboration was needed.
The areas with dark borders are the parts we handled internally as well as overall coordination and integration. Each of the other areas was handled by one of our supply partners.
So a very good outcome all round. And the trial was a resounding success showing that we have another weapon in our arsenal of bush fire prevention strategies. And isn’t that very timely at the moment?
So I’m looking forward to doing more Collaboration in 2020 and especially in IoT where it really needs whole ecosystem to deliver a solution.