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Wireless Sensing: Finally, Ready for the Real World

( 02/11/2019 ) Written by: Dave Fager

Wireless sensing has finally advanced to a level where it is ready to be the norm in the industry. With the many advances in wireless sensing systems, they have now evolved for use in countless areas: OEM and test and measurement applications; oil and gas; industrial machinery and manufacturing; off-highway vehicles; and aerospace and defense.

Why consider wireless?

A wireless set-up can be quite advantageous to a sensor system. To begin with, lead wire damage is eliminated. In severe operating conditions where vibration, fatigue or heat may be present, lead wire damage can be an ongoing concern. With rotating shafts, by using a wireless system removes the need for slip rings. Additionally, across articulated joints and end of booms, lead wire damage can also be a concern.

While some expect higher costs associated with a wireless sensor system, in actuality it allows for a faster install and lower total installed cost, especially at remote locations. A wireless system facilitates data collection and allows for easier field diagnosis and aftermarket solutions.

From early challenges to today’s reality

When wireless sensors were first introduced, dropped and missed data could occur due to problems with the range and intermittency. The technology has advanced and now improved radios and proprietary protocols are used to overcome those original shortcomings.

Battery life was shorter in the early days, which has been solved by using improved Lithium Ion batteries and advanced power management techniques.

But, like any new technology, there weren’t any standards to follow originally, which made using any wireless sensors a guessing game. Now there are consortiums and working groups dedicated to setting standards for wireless sensors in all situations. Additionally, when wireless sensors were first introduced, the price was more prohibited. Today the sensors are more cost-effective as they are part of a total installed system.

Using wireless sensor solutions

Wireless sensor solutions have found their home in many areas. Real world uses include off-highway vehicles for vehicle validation, structural health monitoring, and real-time usage monitoring and overload detection. Also, with torque monitoring, wireless sensing can provide real-time torque measurement on rotating shafts and provide thrust data by measuring axial load. Also, wireless sensing is frequently found in test, calibration and validation.

Wireless sensing has quickly advanced to a preferable, affordable option. It’s not just ready for the real world, it’s already part of it.

Learn more about LORD Sensing, Microstrain wireless product solutions

Dave Fager

David Fager is the Regional Sales Manager in the Great Lakes area for LORD Sensing with expertise in test and measurement application development across automotive, industrial and aerospace markets. He received a B.S. in mechanical engineering from The Ohio State University and has experience as a test engineer, mechanical designer and project manager.

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