One of the most powerful features of a well-implemented IIoT solution is the ability to get reports and alerts/notifications of just those conditions that are cause for concern – exceptions. The reason “exceptions” are so powerful is that in their apparent simplicity there is a considerable amount of complex thinking and decision making to know the most important things to monitor and the frequency to monitor them. In general, it is important to align the reporting time with the rate of change (or potential failure rate of a thing monitored) as well as considering the response resources, timing, and remediation process. For example, monitoring and reporting on something every minute that doesn’t require attention or concern but on a weekly basis is overkill, while monitoring something once a week that could have immediate ramifications within an hour is not aligned either.
Exceptions in Monitoring Gas Fill Levels
Consider the scenario where your organization needs to monitor the level of gas in a tank. Depending on the size of the tank, the refill frequency, and the usage rate, a small personal tank might require a more frequent rate of monitoring than say a large industrial tank that is filled once a week and has a capacity to last for two weeks of operation. In the case of the small personal tank, hourly checks might be warranted with an immediate exception reported when the tank gets to a level where the user has enough time to get a refill or replace the tank before it runs out. In the case of a large industrial tank, once a day checks could accommodate verifying the level, identifying any potential leaks, and also in rare cases alerting the “owner” of the tank that it needs to be refilled if it goes below the “safety” level. In the industrial tank scenario, it is important that the “safety” level be set such that the daily reporting and the time to get the tank refilled are considered and factored in. In both cases, the owners of the tanks would only expect to see an alert/notification when the tanks reach their thresholds – this consistency will lead to owners paying attention to and responding to the alerts/notifications in a timely manner. If the exceptions are set incorrectly (where they are not that meaningful) the owners may increasingly ignore the alerts/notifications since they get too many or too late.
Exceptions in Monitoring Mobile Assets
For many mobile assets, it is important to know both the location and also the current “state” of the asset. A good example is a container that the owners would like to know exactly where they are located and also if the container is empty or full (and possibly if the container is upright or upside down). With this information, owners can determine which assets are utilized and which ones can be scheduled for use. In addition, users can set exceptions to send alerts/notifications to let them know when one of their containers “goes off the grid”. Whether the container has gone into a “dead zone” for signals, across a border or boundary, or is headed in a direction that it shouldn’t be going, these timely exceptions can help avert costly mistakes and losses. Imagine the case of a container that is worth $10k’s of dollars (USD) and is expected to stay within one state (say Texas), assuming the container is checking in four times a day with its status (location, signal strength, battery level, empty/full) if at some point the container starts to head “off course” or ceases to check in, an alert could be triggered at the first missed “roll call” or after the second or third missed check-in to alert the owner that there may be an issue to be investigated further. If all the containers are checking in regularly and within their set boundaries, then no notifications or exceptions are generated and the owner can be confident that things are within the required parameters. An additional benefit is that the owner can look at a map of all the assets at any given time and see, with confidence, where everything is and what the status is of each asset. This convenient “report” can save significant time and money when considering the manual effort that goes into tracking mobile assets today.
Exceptions in Monitoring Farming
In agricultural settings, there really isn’t the concept of “a day off”. Plants and animals have to be fed, watered, and monitored 24×365 to assure optimal growth and health. The inputs to these processes typically include large “bins” that hold fertilizers, feed, raw ingredients, finished goods, liquids, gases, and many others. Batch, distribution, and delivery logistics are critical to make sure that the right items are delivered to the right location on the farms in the right quantity, at the right time, and in the correct order. If deliveries are delayed (or missed altogether) the crops and livestock will be put at risk. In most cases, accurate advance warning of low-level conditions can make the difference of buying the optimal quantities in time to optimize purchase price and delivery. Thus, alerts and notifications generated from exceptions that are aligned with the low level condition (or fill condition) and inform all of the owners along the process of issues and opportunities to address and leverage, respectively, in order to squeeze as much efficiency out of the resources as possible – all while prioritizing the welfare of the crops and livestock in their care.
Bonus: Mapping Exceptions
Of all the potential reporting “views”, few are as profound and concise as a map. Whether the map is a classic geographical format, or is arranged as a process view, or even configured as an organizational hierarchy, the map provides a considerable amount of information in a small area. Maps are made even more useful by color-coding those items that are in an exception condition with colors (like RED = bad) so that users and owners can quickly see those items needing attention and then focusing in on them. Similarly, and sometimes preferred by users/owners is a map that is displayed as a table with color-coded cells. The advantage for users who have a table view is that the data can quickly be exported from the view and imported into other tables, emails, or documents for use in managerial reporting. Depending on the factors most important to users/owners, colors, data, and alerts can be configured to display the exceptions that are most relevant and timely so that they can be addressed accordingly.
The Cellio Wireless Network has been designed to be quick, affordable, and high quality. Cellio Wireless Transceivers allow the Cellio system and customers to quickly and easily expand existing systems with as many sensors and controllers as they like (with minimal incremental expense). The data collected in the back-end data system can be easily and rapidly mapped and provided for view on PC’s, tablets, smartphones, etc. both via browser views as well as automatically generated native mobile app views. Sharing and modifying the dashboard views is quick and easy. All of this is available in place today. There is a saying that you should “Inspect what you expect”. When determining alerts, notifications, and reports various users and levels of organizations, it is important to consider how, why, how often, when and what the result will be when an alert or notification is generated. The alignment of the condition monitored with the timing of the response can assure that when a user/owner receives and alarm that they will pay particular attention to the exception and take whatever steps necessary to address the condition before it becomes critical. So, it’s also important to “Inspect what you except.”