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Top 11 Industrial IoT Sensors

NCD engineers are always looking for ways to help connect the real world to the digital world via secure IoT solutions.  As a manufacturer, we have worked with customers in a variety of industrial IoT sensor applications.  There really is no “one size fits all” for everyone, both in hardware and cloud solution technologies.  We have customized IoT devices numerous times to custom fit an IoT sensor into a unique application.  As we continue to work with our clients, we are building a list of industrial IoT sensors that help cover most monitoring requirements.  Here, we will share our list of the most popular IoT sensors and the unique applications that we are seeing.  Industrial IoT sensors have an exceedingly fast payback time.  In most applications, the cost of the industrial IoT sensors and solutions begins saving money immediately.  When a predictive maintenance condition is successfully detected, the payback often exceeds the cost of the sensors, installation, and all software expenses ever invested.  NCD industrial IoT sensors are supervising multi-billion dollar facilities every day of the week.  We help with everything from improving the safety of the work environment to keeping your factory floor moving and productive.  In some cases, predicting failure of valuable assets has the ability to not only save machines, but to save lives as well.

IoT Temperature and Humidity Sensors

By far, the most common industrial IoT sensors with an ultra-fast payback are our line of Temperature and Humidity sensors. One of the biggest needs we have seen for this sensor is to help prevent condensation on a large scale factory floor.  In our customer application, the humidity would rise, and the floors would become fully saturated.  Wet floors were severely crippling the production line.  By implementing industrial IoT temperature and humidity sensors throughout the production line, the humidity could be carefully monitored.  The HVAC system redirected to the highest humidity areas, preventing saturated floors.  The payback for installing these sensors on the factory floor was less than one day.  These sensors continue to pay for themselves each day they are in use.

IoT Dry Contact Closure Transmitters

Dry contact closure transmitters send a notification when any input changes state.  Essentially any kind of switch can be connected to a dry contact transmitter.  One notable example of how these devices have saved our customers tremendous amounts of money is by simply attaching garage door switches to the transmitter.  In this use case, our customer was spending a fortune on climate control of large warehouse when loading bays were left open.  In some cases, the loading bays were left open all day long, causing the HVAC system to run continuously.  Imagine over 100 loading bays in a line and you start to see where this can be a very serious problem.  By monitoring the doors, automated alerts were sent to staff to close the loading bay doors.  By monitoring the doors and keeping the doors closed, the HVAC system was able to return to normal operation.  Each day, these transmitter pay for themselves in HVAC operating costs.

IoT Thermocouple Temperature Transmitters

Thermocouples are an essential industrial IoT sensor technology.  With the ability to measure a wide temperature range, and to live through extreme temperatures with surprising accuracy makes them a near requirement in just about every factory floor.  Thermocouples are an essential tool for monitoring the curing process of industrial ceramics. Ramping up the heat over the correct duration of time is critical to the curing process. High temperatures need to be sustained for a long duration of time (in some cases many hours) for proper curing.  Cool-down is also critical to build strength, but accelerated cool-down periods can cause cracking. Thermal Profiling can help tune the process, building a better product with the best possible strength. Thermal Profiling can also help save money, as it may be possible to cut hours off of the curing time with proper testing.  NCD thermocouples have been used successfully in numerous thermal profiling applications to insure product integrity. While the payback period of this sensor is not immediate for this application, this sensor can save a fortune in process controls to prevent manufacturing defects. This sensor has the unique potential to save a business, all by itself.

IoT Current Monitoring Sensor Transmitters

The importance of monitoring power consumption cannot be understated when it comes to implementing a complete industrial IoT sensor strategy.  Monitoring power usage obviously helps you keep utility bills in check. What may not be so obvious is the ability for current monitoring devices to help predict failure.  More and more companies are starting to catch on to the idea that power consumption monitoring has a secondary benefit of failure prediction, causing this sensor to be among our most highly sought after devices.  The first thing that happens when a bearing fails on an industrial motor is friction. Friction causes a higher load on a motor. By monitoring the average current consumption of motors, bearing failure can be detected when power consumption begins to exceed expected readings.  The biggest use case for this has been in industrial freezers. When compressors fail, one of two things tends to happen: 1) current consumption either spikes due to friction or 2) current consumption is drastically reduced due to internal component failure (causing the motor to spin freely without load).  By monitoring power consumption, unusual power trends may be detected and maintenance may be scheduled automatically.

IoT Cycle Counter Transmitters

Not all sensors are obvious in their benefits to a successful industrial IoT sensor strategy.  The counter transmitter is often one of the most overlooked devices because it’s benefits are realized over the long term in the predictive maintenance category of strategies rather than immediate sense and react strategy.  However, predictive maintenance devices offer a payback in preventative down time that can save a fortune on the factory floor.  By scheduling maintenance activities around known cycle counts, the counter transmitter can play a key role in helping your maintenance team stay ahead of problems.  Perhaps the biggest implementation of this device that we have seen to date is in loading bays where doors are opened and closed on a regular basis.  The counter transmitter keeps track of how many times a door is opened and closed, and periodically sends these data to key cloud technologies, which are capable of issuing work orders when the doors are predicted to need maintenance or replacement.  While it may be hard to imagine this type of solution saving any real money, magnify the problem to the scale of thousands of trucks loading and unloading each day across dozens of loading bays and you can see how the counter transmitter starts to make a lot of sense.  Since the counter transmitter uses contact closure inputs, just about any type of cycle you can think of may be counted.  From entry doors to conveyors and motors, the counter transmitter can be one of your best solutions in preventing down time.

IoT Pressure Sensor Transmitters

Industrial IoT sensors frequently require the ability to read pressure.  From measuring pressure of air to hazardous gasses and liquids, choosing the right pressure sensor will always require a little research, as every application is a little different.  NCD works with many companies to help focus a solution tailored to the pressure measurement application.  We have worked with about every kind of pressure you can think of, from medical grade precision sensors to heavy duty industrial sensors.  NCD industrial IoT sensors are capable transmitting pressure data directly to modems and gateways with the ability to send alerts upon substantial pressure changes.  Pressure sensor arrays are typically used to discover leaks or flow blockages in industrial environments.  Like most sensors, NCD pressure sensors send data periodically to let you know everything is working well.  If pressure changes exceed preset limits, additional transmissions may be sent.  Pressure sensors typically have a short payback period, particularly when problems are discovered.

IoT Vibration Sensor Transmitters

Vibration Sensors are a critical component to industrial IoT sensor solutions.  Vibration sensors are a common solution to many predictive maintenance applications, as they can alert to common issues of functioning machinery and equipment.  Vibration Sensors use accelerometers to read micro-changes in direction across a relatively wide bandwidth.  Once vibration profiles of properly running equipment are collected, comparative analysis of vibration data can provide an early insight into equipment as it falls further and further out of specification.  Vibration sensors have the ability to send RMS vibration data periodically, as well as minimum and maximum vibration in all three X, Y, and Z axis.  Additional vibration packets are sent when excessive changes are detected, providing the earliest possible insight into problems.  We have seen a tremendous number of applications covered by our vibration sensors.  From heavy equipment and motors to industrial pipe flow vibration monitoring, NCD vibration sensors can provide some of the earliest possible notifications of failing equipment.  Vibrations sensors rank among the top five sensors for predictive maintenance applications.  Because of the early detection capabilities, this sensor can actually save lives when used properly.  This is the number one sensor used in industrial applications where direct human monitoring is limited or impossible.

IoT Air Quality Sensor Transmitters

Air Quality sensors were born out of our own expectation to maintain a healthy work environment for our employees, particularly in our production department where solder machines and flux can produce obnoxious fumes.  Ironically, before we were able to install this product in our production department, this sensor was providing us unusual and unexpected readings at our design office during product testing. At first, we thought this sensor was providing us with fault readings.  As it turned out, this sensor was detecting a problem with our water distiller, used to purify drinking water for our employees.  A solenoid valve had started burning inside the distiller, and this sensor detected it before we could even smell it.  Within a couple of days, we were able to find the problem (and smell the problem).  Once the distiller was taken out of service for repairs, this sensor returned to normal values.  Air quality sensors are less obvious in cost recovery, but they definitely help improve the quality of living and work environments.  We consider air quality sensors to be among our most valuable industrial IoT sensors we currently manufacture.

IoT Activity Sensor Transmitters

Of all the industrial IoT sensors we offer, the activity sensor transmitter is probably one of the most unique.  Born out of an unusual situation faced by our customers, the IoT activity sensor seeks to solve the problem of unexpected high-value asset relocation.  In some applications, customers were faced with simple misplacement of high-value assets.  In more extreme cases, our customers were dealing with theft in the workplace.  The activity sensor is attached to large high-value assets and send data transmissions when movement is detected.  Coupled with strategic placement of multiple receivers covering a large property area (several miles), asset transmitters have already recovered their costs of ownership within the first couple of months of installation.  

IoT 4-20mA Sensor Transmitters

Retrofitting existing buildings and manufacturing facilities with modern IoT hardware should be as painless as possible.  It’s not always viable to change existing sensors, nor is it advised.  Upgrading to a IoT solution should be as minimally invasive as possible.  Since most traditional sensors use 4-20mA current changes to communicate sensor data across long distances, adding 4-20mA transmitters may be used to share sensor data.  NCD industrial IoT sensors are capable of communicating sensor data to multiple modems and gateways.  This allows localized computers and cloud technologies to share sensor data.  IoT 4-20mA transmitters are often supplemented with logic and relay control, all of which can be accomplished using Node-Red software (for which we have extensive drivers) and endNode devices (for relay control applications).  This allows a full localized computing solution with web access and the ability to report data to multiple cloud platforms.  The cost benefit of 4-20mA sensor transmitters is the savings that are realized by utilizing existing infrastructure to modernize a facility.  Additional value will be realized when traditional sensors become accessible from anywhere in the world.

IoT Water Detection Sensor Transmitters

Our list of top 11 Industrial IoT sensors could not be complete without the most fundamental sensor type imaginable.  Water detection sensors send an alert when water is detected and send another alert letting you know the sensor has returned to a dry state.  Water detection sensors also send data periodically letting you know they are still monitoring.  Like all NCD sensors, the battery state is also transmitted so you can determine the overall health of the sensor.  Applications for water detection sensors are surprisingly vast.  From moisture monitoring of crawl spaces to detection of flood conditions, water detection sensors have found a home in many applications.  Simple water detection in basements is very common with this sensor.  Water detection of concrete floors and walls are among the most basic of detection applications.  Of course we can provide different sensor probe styles to meet other application requests, so please don’t hesitate to contact us if you need something a little different.

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