Full Steam Ahead into the Cloud

Steam generators helped launch the Industrial Revolution some 150 years ago. These days, Industry 4.0 is linking them to the Internet of Things (IoT), where they can automatically send their data into the cloud. The German company CERTUSS uses machine-to-machine (M2M) communication and an IoT platform to remotely monitor its cutting-edge steam generators.

Steam generators from CERTUSS are used in moistening, heating and cleaning applications for hotel laundries, air conditioners, auto-certification garages, cosmetics production and food preparation. But quite often, the devices are installed in hard to reach places, such as cellars. The only notification of a malfunction or required maintenance might appear on the generator itself. If a customer sees this too late, it could result in unnecessary downtime for repairs.

Wirelessly connected to the cloud

To avoid just that kind of situation, CERTUSS is now connecting its steam generators to Deutsche Telekom’s Cloud of Things. This link to this cloud-based Internet of Things platform makes all devices visible on a central monitor: Sensors measure some 60 parameters, such as temperature, pressure, gas usage and water levels. Every minute, a GSM gateway mounted inside the device collects the data and transmits it wirelessly with a SIM card for M2M communication to the Cloud of Things. This IoT platform then presents the data graphically, analyzes it and sends an alert should any readings exceed predetermined limits.
The connection to the Cloud of Things offers both CERTUSS and its customers several advantages. Should a steam generator fail, it automatically informs the company. CERTUSS can then use the cloud platform to respond immediately and resolve many issues remotely, often avoiding the need to send a service technician at all. The Cloud of Things also allows the long-term analysis of data, which can help explain why malfunctions happen in the first place. So CERTUSS can now recognize and resolved problems before a steam generator fails. This predictive maintenance  keeps users informed and aware of upcoming inspections.

Advantages for both company and customers

Data analysis shows how CERTUSS can optimally adjust its generators to individual customer needs: which require large amounts of steam, what temperatures are required and how they can run at minimal levels. Customers, on the other hand, can use an interface to port the data to their own systems, enabling the fine-tuning of the entire production process. They also save time with remote monitoring, boost productivity with less steam generator downtime and reduce costs thanks to preventative maintenance and individually tailored settings.
CERTUSS places considerable emphasis on the security of the entire networking solution: The gateway transmits encrypted sensor data via an independent wireless connection that does not require access to the operator’s IT network. This means there’s fewer ways to access it. At the same time, all the data is stored securely in Germany.

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