The management of the local steel pipe manufacturing industry wanted to find a way to optimize production costs by monitoring the electricity consumption of each of their 35 plants. They had energy meters installed in a few of their plants, but their performance was not satisfactory. They required that a meter be installed in each plant, that the meter be connected wirelessly to the server, that the meter data be logged into the database, and that customized report generation be possible. Fortunately, we were able to help them find a solution that met all of their requirements. The new system has helped them to save money and increase efficiency.
One of the most challenging aspects of the project was the wireless connectivity of the meter in an extremely noisy environment with tons of metal lying around and distances up to 500 meters. The biggest challenge was making sure that the signal was clear and strong enough to be received by the monitoring system. To address this issue, we installed high-gain antennas and used frequency-hopping software to minimize interference. Despite these measures, we still experienced occasional signal dropouts. Ultimately, we were able to overcome this challenge by using a more robust wireless protocol. By doing so, we were able to ensure that the data was transmitted reliably, even in challenging environments.
How We Helped
The 433 MHz RF frequency was selected for its lack of directionality and lower attenuation due to obstacles. However, transmitting directly from the meter to the server was not possible, as it would require more than 1 watt (30 dBm) of power - which is prohibited in the ISM band. To get around this, a hybrid solution was proposed: installing NRUs (Network Relay Units) in locations where Ethernet (wired LAN) connectivity was available. These NRUs act as routers, connecting wirelessly to 6-8 meters close to their location and sending data to the head-end server via Ethernet. This solution allows for the transmission of data without violating ISM band regulations.