Application: cable harness checking
As application example from the automotive sector: the company SEMD, a German-based provider of products and services for electro-technical and medical industries, has developed a tester to verify proper assembly of complex wire harnesses. An automotive cable harness consists of numerous interconnected cables and requires up to one hundred unique connectors. Employing energy harvesting wireless technology, SEMD confirms proper placement and connection when the harness is snapped into the harness panel. This mechanical motion generates electricity to send radio signals to the quality assurance system confirming each connection point was properly connected.
The individual test components can be exchanged speedily and simply without altering the entire support device. The system is integrated in a PC-based network, enabling operation by conventional server technology. Using this wireless testing a cable harness manufacturer can cut production time plus substantially reduce production costs by 35 to 48 percent.
Automotive cable harness testing makes use of mechanical energy to generate control signals
Application: machine monitoring
Self-powered wireless technology can also be used to monitor and control large-scale industrial facilities. When monitoring the status of machines, for example, sensors can collect data on wear and tear, consumption levels or the necessary maintenance intervals, and report deviations or irregularities. The batteryless solutions can be mounted wherever they are needed, for example on moving machine parts, and moved again later as required. This gives plant operators extremely reliable data that can prevent unscheduled production downtime. Moreover, the technology can be used to control barriers, unlock gates and monitor cold chains or the status of container doors during transport.
The technology of energy harvesting switches and sensors enables numerous other fields of application in buildings, transport and industry. With this ready-to-go system, device manufacturers can implement individual wireless switching solutions based on energy harvesting wireless technology quickly and easily. Using the open wireless standard ISO/IEC 14543-3-10 as a guiding principle, batteryless products can be combined seamlessly with industrial controls and receivers from a wide range of vendors providing flexibility in system planning and implementation.
About the author: Frank Schmidt, CTO and co-founder, EnOcean GmbH
Frank Schmidt is a pioneer of energy harvesting and a member of the management team at EnOcean. As chief technology officer, he is responsible for the overall technical orientation, patent-related activities as well as the relationship management with educational, research and scientific organizations. Before joining EnOcean, he was at the central research department of Siemens AG where he created self-powered wireless sensor technology as early as 1995. He has been granted more than 40 patents for his energy harvesting inventions and is the author of numerous technical publications in this field. Frank studied physics at the Technical University of Chemnitz, Germany.
See related links:
Energy harvesting and renewable energy sources
Slideshow: China and the future of solar power
Energy harvester kit powers battery-free NFC/RFID
Low power solar energy harvesting in a compact footprint
The potential of energy harvesting means there’s nothing to lose
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