Each year we visit the Embedded World exhibition in Nurnberg, where in Europe, for the first time the latest M2M solutions and accessories are presented.
The main attraction in 2015 was the Beacon
The concept of Beacon is not unknown for the developers experienced in M2M, as Apple has unveiled their product, called iBeacon, a year ago.
Through many case studies, it showed many applications where iBeacon has its raison d’être.
Understanding the Beacon
The Beacon is a small sensor, a size of a watch. 3V-powered by a button cell, this is able to operate continuously for a year, depending on the settings. At a 100ms 0,1mp signalling frequency it lasts for 1,5 month, at a 500ms 0,5mp signalling frequency it is 7,5 month, and with a 1s 1mp signalling frequency setting it lasts for 12,5 month. When the battery starts to run out, it sends a notification, so you do not have to worry about it seamlessly running out. It supports a 30-metre radius range, which can be narrowed to about 2-3 metres. It uses the BLE, Bluetooth Low Energy, technology; therefore it can be continuously operated with one small battery for a year. Thanks to the changeable signalling, the operation status of the Beacon can be continuously controlled and monitored.
The functions of Beacon
There are several different types, some of which:
- Proximity Beacon (a sensor, based on proximity)
- Accelerometer Beacon (displacement and acceleration sensor)
- Temperature Beacon (temperature sensor)
- Magnetic Beacon (detects magnetism)
- Motion Beacon (motion sensing)
Today’s case study is based about the Proximity Beacon
More and more companies think that they have to take care of the physical integrity of the manual workers, as well as to make sure, that the employees can continue to see their work in all circumstances.
For years the unsolved problem for companies was for example, if an accident occurs at night (e.g. loss of consciousness), to see how much time it takes to notice it. In the case of companies with several thousand square metre halls this could be a very big issue, due to the large area and the covering of machines it could be too late to spot the problem. If the assistance arrives too late, the damages occurred could be irreversible, and in the worst case, it could result in death.
Companies has been long looking to solve this big problem
Another existing problem is that employees working the night shift at the factory will go to sleep instead of working. If the workers do not participate actively in production, it causes a loss. In addition to the losses, the employees could not stop unforeseen damages either, if they are not on the spot to intervene when necessary. These can result in unexpected expenses.
The solution: Beacon
There are companies, who’d like to monitor only a few employees, but there are those enterprises who’d like to monitor all. The Beacon is suitable for both with different settings.
Applying the Beacon with only a few employees (10-30)
In these cases the workers will receive a Vario device, which can either be clipped to their trousers or via a karabiner attached to their belt loops.
The device can sense the smallest of motions, and exactly knows, that the user’s physical conditions are fine, therefore no need to worry about false alarms. The moment, the device is removed, placed into a steady position for a few seconds, it will sense a man-down function, and will send a notification straight away. It is also true in a situation where the employee lies down for a longer period.
It detects the loss of consciousness, and in the same times sends the signal to the monitoring centre via a GPRS connection. If the incident occurs outdoors, a GPS signal helps with giving an accurate location, if it happens indoors, this kind of locating isn’t working.
This is where Proximity Beacon comes into the picture
The Beacon can help the accurate (2-3 metres) locating of the employees. In this case, the Beacons are considered zones. With the help of the Beacon network, the accurate location of the user, and the exact location of the alarm is always known. The more frequently the zones are built, the more accurate the locating will become. The zones can even cross each other, which further help the localization.
The setting up of the Proximity Beacon
The system can be quickly installed. The company sends us the drawings, where we initiate where the Beacons should be fitted, then we have a location test too, as there could be certain areas in the building where huge tanks could cloud the radius of the Beacons, therefore more sensor placements would be required. The situation is similar with the various production and manufacturing machines or technical equipments, where significant electro smog is formed during operation, and therefore disturbs the spreading of the microwave signals.
Objectively we can say that the Beacon sensors fall close to the company’s future production. Not only those can prevent loss, but may increase the effectiveness of the factory, and lead to more revenue.
Would you like to know how much additional income you would get by setting up the above described system?
Contact our colleague for further information.