Accelerating development of smart, power-efficient IoT applications!

28/07/2014
Delivering intelligent connectivity starting at the network edge

B&B Electronics has introduced its Wzzard™ Intelligent Sensing Platform.    Wzzard is an easy to use, complete wireless sensor connectivity platform for the rapid deployment of scalable, intelligent, reliable Internet of Things (IoT) networking in remote and demanding environments.   Wzzard was designed to help integrators, VARs and service providers efficiently develop and deploy secure, smart, self-powered, and scalable IoT applications.

BBWzzardUnlike a traditional SCADA application where sensors and edge devices are simply passive conduits for raw data, edge decision making delivers a more effective network.  Using iterative control limits and gateway data aggregation to support applications closer to the network edge, the Wzzard Intelligent Sensing Platform brings this intelligence to the network starting at the sensor, creating a more responsive, reliable and efficient network.

There are several key components and technologies that comprise B&B Electronics’ Wzzard Intelligent Sensing Platform, as demonstrated here: B&B Smart Sensing Wzzard Platform

First, Wzzard Intelligent Edge Nodes will connect, via conduit fitting cable gland or M12 connector, to any industry-standard sensor. General-purpose analog inputs, digital input/output and thermocouple interfaces are included. B&B has already integrated internal temperature and accelerometer sensor options, and can integrate other application specific sensors upon request.

The Intelligent Edge Nodes are easily configurable, using Android or IoS smartphones or tablets and the Wzzard app over Bluetooth LE 4.0. They can be configured to communicate only data outside specified thresholds, reducing the cost on cellular networks, as well as to associate other useful information (geo-location, device name, and up-time) with the collected sensor data for upstream analytics applications.   Control time synchronization is used to maximize battery life, exceeding 5 years for many applications.   Nodes are IP67 rated for outdoor use and include both magnetized and screw mount options.

Next is the communications component. B&B chose SmartMesh IP® wireless sensing technology from Linear Technologies Dust Networks.  SmartMesh IP is based upon the wireless IEEE 802.15.4e standard and creates full-mesh networks, sometimes referred to as “mesh-to-the-edge” networks.  SmartMesh IP networks use a triple-play of wireless mesh technologies—time diversity, frequency diversity, and physical diversity—to assure reliability, resiliency, scalability, power source flexibility, and ease-of-use.  At the core the technology is an intelligent mesh network with advanced algorithms and power saving technologies that enable powerful features not available from other WSN providers including:

• Ultra low power consumption

• Deterministic power management and optimization

• Auto-forming mesh technology for a self-healing and self-sustaining network

• Dynamic bandwidth support, load balancing and optimization

• Network management and configuration

• Zero collision low power packet exchange

• Scalability to large, dense, deep networks

wzzard_groupWzzard’s Intelligent Edge Nodes can join the mesh network at any time without gateway interaction.  Nodes attach automatically, and the SmartMesh IP technology dynamically self-configures to re-form the mesh network. To ensure data always reaches the gateway, nodes will determine their optimal RF paths to other nodes and back to the gateway. The SmartMesh IP protocol implemented within the edge nodes includes advanced network management functions and security features such as encryption and authentication. For more information: B&B Smart-Sensing What is Smartmesh

Wzzard also uses the lightweight, publish/subscribe messaging transport MQTT protocol for sensor communications.   MQTT is an extremely simple messaging protocol created for M2M and IoT applications over wireless networks. Its efficient distribution of information to single or multiple receivers, low power usage and minimized data packets make it ideal for mobile or remote locations. Unlike older SCADA protocols such as Modbus, MQTT places few restrictions on the volume or type of data that can be communicated. This facilitates a meta-data approach where multiple IoT applications can act upon the information simultaneously without having to know its origin.

Finally, B&B’s programmable, industrial-grade Spectre router serves as Wzzard’s Intelligent Gateway. Spectre can connect equipment and other devices to the Internet or Intranet over either wired Ethernet or wireless cellular connections. Spectre is built for plug-and-play simplicity with extensive remote management, deployment and customization options.  It is a robust, flexible gateway designed for easy deployment in demanding environments and the cellular version creates secure connections in locations where cable connections are impractical.

Processed information from the sensor nodes is published through the Spectre Gateway up to the customer’s IoT application using MQTT transport protocol.

SeeControl is one of the first IoT platform providers to leverage the Wzzard Intelligent Sensing Platform and MQTT protocols to develop applications. (More information at: B&B/SeeControl Partnership)

“Today, most business analytics can only describe what has happened and why,” said Parthesh Shastri, SeeControl’s vice president of customer success and strategy.  “The industry can move past descriptive to predictive and even prescriptive analytics using IoT technologies such as B&B’s Wzzard that applies edge decision making and processes information collected from sensors before transmitting relevant, as opposed to raw data, up to SeeControl’s SaaS remote management platform. Cloud-based big data analytics is then better able to derive meaning from the data, and prescribe specific courses of action, to drive more intelligent applications.”

Jerry O’Gorman, CEO of B&B Electronics explained, “The Wzzard platform’s technologies, protocols and hardware work together to reduce the complexity, expertise and time it takes for integrators to develop scalable IoT solutions.   We developed Wzzard to facilitate the coming world of connected intelligence, where smart machines and systems will collaborate, inform and make decisions on the intelligence gained from each other with little or no human supervision. Humans will program these smart networks, but then they have the ability to run efficiently and autonomously, sometimes for years, until there’s data reported that requires human intervention.”

Possible Applications:

  • Flood and water level monitoring
  • Smart car parks; vehicle counting, air quality
  • Smart irrigation systems monitoring soil moisture, environmental conditions, leaks
  • Mechanical condition monitoring/preventative maintenance
  • Energy measurements and audits on a per system or machine basis
  • Data center environmental monitoring
  • Tank and lift stations
  • Condition monitoring and optimization in industrial environments
  • Traffic monitoring of over-height vehicles for tunnels and bridges

Celebrating twenty years abnormality!

21/07/2014

This year the Abnormal Situation Management (ASM®) Consortium  is celebrating 20 years of thought leadership in the process industry. The ASM Consortium grew out of a grassroots effort begun in 1989 by ASM to address alarm floods. Honeywell spearheaded the development of a proposal to the US NIST, Advanced Technology Program to form a Joint Research & Development Consortium.

Background on the ASM ConsortiumasmThe ASM Consortium was started in 1994 to address Process Industry concerns about the high cost of incidents, such as unplanned shutdowns, fires, explosions, emissions, etc. The term, Abnormal Situation Management®, was used to describe it. Matching funds from NIST enabled the consortium to spend several years researching and developing highly-advanced concepts to address the problem of abnormal situations. Since then research has continued and increasing effort has been put into development and deployment of solutions that incorporate ASM knowledge.The basis of the ASM Consortium is collaboration and information-sharing. By working together, members achieve far more than they could working alone. Research results are published for members, and often further shared by means of webinars, seminars and workshops. User members also guide Honeywell in selection and development of product solutions that incorporate ASM knowledge. Non-members can benefit from ASM Research as ASM Effective Practices Guidelines for Alarm Management, Display Design and Procedural Practices are available for purchase on Amazon.com.

The proposal addressed the challenging problem of abnormal situation management. In preparing for this proposal effort, Honeywell and its collaborators created the Abnormal Situation Management (ASM) Joint Research and Development Consortium (referred to as ASMC) under the U.S. Cooperative Research and Development Act. In November 1994, the ASM research joint venture began its research with $16.6 million (€12.27m) in funding for a three year study program, including $8.1 million (€6m) from ATP and industry cost-sharing of $8.5 million (€6.29m).

This year, ASM Consortium members have met twice for a week-long Quarterly Review Meetings (QRM) , once at Houston, Texas (USA) in April and then again at Antwerp (B) in June. Along with its normal business, the Consortium discussed plans to celebrate the Consortium’s 20 year of service to the Process Industry. The Quarterly Review Meetings are a platform for the ASM Consortium members to share the benefits gained from the ASM practices and products, and to discuss new challenges faced in plant operations. Members of the Consortium besides Honeywell include industrial manufacturers, a human factors research company, and universities that collaborate to research best practices for managing abnormal situations in industrial facilities.

To celebrate its 20th year, ASM Consortium will be spreading further awareness about managing and mitigating abnormal situations in process industries by publishing journal articles, white papers at leading industry conferences, and a planned video.


Modest component growth predicted in Britain!

11/07/2014

British distributors expect modest growth later in the year, even though growth in the Britain and Ireland electronic components markets remains lacklustre, according to the May market statistics released by the Electronic Components Supply Network (ECSN), the professional community for the electronic component supply chain.

Adam Fletcher

Adam Fletcher, Chairman of the ECSN, commented, “Anticipated growth in the second quarter does not appear to have materialised, which has led to a slight increase in inventory. Our distributor members are expecting a modest increase in growth in the second half of the year, which appears to be realistic since no significant events or increased demand drivers are currently visible.” He believes that a very similar pattern is being played out in electronic components markets world-wide.

The full ecsn market statistics are available to all members. They show a slight decline in the Book-to-Bill ratio and in overall bookings compared to April 2014 and also to May 2013. Semiconductors increased slightly over the period, passives declined slightly, emech was flat and component assemblies declined.


Ensuring that necessary dredging mantains water quality!

07/07/2014

Last winter brought unprecedented weather conditions both in Ireland and Britain. In the Read-out offices we were hit by a thunder and lightening storm which played havoc with our electronic equipment and elsewhere in the region the rough seas did incredible damage. In the south-west of England the farms and homes in the Somerset Levels and Moors, a sparsely populated coastal plain and wetland area of central Somerset, was severely hit with incredible flooding. Indeed the effects of this will be felt in the area for many years to come.

levels

This shows the incredible extent of last winter’s flooding with superimposed map showing location of the Somerset Levels and Moors.

A special monitoring system is helping protect water quality on the Somerset Levels and Moors where a major dredging operation is under way following this severe flooding. The system, which was supplied by OTT Hydrometry and installed by Wavelength Environmental, is designed to protect the river ecology by issuing email alerts if water quality deteriorates beyond pre-set conditions. Any such alerts would immediately be relayed to the project team and an assessment of conditions would then be undertaken, so that working practices can be reviewed and continued.

The flood caused extensive damage to properties in the area and many residents had to leave their homes.  Approximately 170 homes and businesses were affected. The Environment Agency estimated there were more than 65 million cubic metres of floodwater covering an area of 65 square kilometres.

Dredgers commenced work at the end of March 2014

Dredgers commenced work at the end of March 2014

On Monday 31st March 2014, three months after the flooding began, dredging work started on the banks of the river Parrett between Burrowbridge and Moorland, just a few minutes from Junction 24 of the M5 in the south west of England. Costing £1 million per mile, 5 miles of river bank will be dredged (3 miles of the river Parrett and 2 miles of the river Tone), based on restoring the river channels to their 1960’s profile and improving their drainage capability.

In recent years, an accumulation of sediment has narrowed the river channel and this is believed to be just one of the reasons for the severe flooding that took place. A network of mobile real-time water quality monitors is therefore being deployed to continuously monitor water quality upstream and downstream of the dredgers. This work complements the Environment Agency’s wider environmental monitoring.

Adcon Telemetry plus Hydrolab WQ sonde.

Adcon Telemetry plus Hydrolab WQ sonde.

The monitors consist of Hydrolab water quality ‘sondes’ and Adcon telemetry systems which transmit near-live data during the dredging operation that is due to run until the Winter of 2014. The monitors are anchored to the river bed and suspended in the river by means of two small buoys. Each sonde is fitted with sensors for the measurement of dissolved oxygen (DO), ammonium, temperature, pH, conductivity and turbidity. A short cable connects each sonde to an Adcon telemetry unit on the bank, which transmits data via GPRS every 10 minutes. The sondes contain internal dataloggers, however the transmitted data is available to project staff in near real-time via a web-based data portal. If water quality meets the pre-set alert conditions (for temperature, dissolved oxygen or ammonium), email messages are issued via the telemetry units. It is important to note that poor water quality can be caused by a number of factors including low flow levels and high nutrient levels arising from many sources in the area.

Downstream monitoring!

Downstream monitoring!

The project plan has allowed for up to eight dredging teams, and the monitors are being installed approximately 50 metres upstream and 100-150 meters downstream of the dredgers – to allow sufficient mixing.

Simon Browning from Wavelength Environmental has been monitoring the data from the sondes and says: “The monitors are quick and easy to deploy, and have performed very well; however, portability is extremely important because the instruments have to be moved and redeployed as the dredging work proceeds.

“We have also started fitting GPS units to the telemetry systems so that we can keep track of the monitoring locations. This is important because each dredging team is constantly moving, so the monitors have to be moved regularly.”

Matthew Ellison, a telemetry specialist from OTT Hydrometry, was delighted to be involved in this high profile project and recommended the Adcon systems because they are extremely small and therefore portable, and have been designed to run on very low power, which means they can be left to run in remote locations for extended periods of time with just a small solar panel.

In January, Owen Paterson, the Environmental Secretary of State in England, asked for a 20 year Action Plan to be developed to look at the various options for the sustainable management of flood risk on the Somerset Levels and Moors. The plan is supported by a £10m investment from the Department for Transport with a further £500k from the Department for Communities and Local Government, on top of the £10m previously announced by the British Prime Minister. The plan has been published and is available here on the Somerset County Council website!

Whilst the plan recognises that it will not be possible to stop flooding completely, it has 6 key objectives:

  1. Reduce the frequency, depth and duration of flooding.
  2. Maintain access for communities and businesses.
  3. Increase resilience to flooding for families, agriculture, businesses, communities, and wildlife.
  4. Make the most of the special characteristics of the Somerset Levels and Moors (the internationally important biodiversity, environment and cultural heritage).
  5. Ensure strategic transport connectivity, both within Somerset and through the county to the South West peninsula.
  6. Promote business confidence and growth.

“Dredging is one of the one things the local community has really been pressing for and people are going to check the Environment Agency is doing the work properly. The water quality monitoring undertaken by the mobile monitors and by our own static monitors will help provide assurance that the environment is not compromised by this work,” said Graham Quarrier for the Environment Agency.


A win – win situation: Cost optimisation on both sides!

30/06/2014

Silo management for grain mills and their customers!

In Germany alone there are more than 260 large flour mills, in Asia the grain market is significantly greater and a very important industry. All around the world the situation is similar: Well-planned routes and carefully calculated stock levels are vital to achieve max cost optimisation during the material delivery process, however these are more than often jeopardised by daily reality.

WPAlogo
UWT Level Instrumentaion is marketed in Ireland by Wolf Process Automation

Bakeries, the customers of the mills, often place their orders to late and the mills are faced with having to supply material immediately in order to avoid production stop at the bakeries. This leads to unnecessary logistics costs caused by multiple deliveries and ultimately to an increase in costs for sides, the supplier and the customer. This is obviously in no one’s interest. But why are we confronted with these “fire-fighting” situations and how can they be avoided?

Lack of storage management in bakeries
Even bakeries with multiple storage silos often do not have an automated level monitoring system to control their inventory levels. Therefore these stocks have to be checked manually on a regular basis and an order has to be triggered to the flour supplier on time. Due to unforeseen fluctuations in demand or simply by not having verified the stock levels sudden emergencies arise that lead to unplanned extra tours for the mill.

Just the installation of sensors for level monitoring in the silos of the bakeries would bring a partial improvement. In this context often the willingness to invest is lacking because “it´s working as it is” regardless of the fact that it is a very costly and inefficient way to do it. But the ideal solution would be that the mills take responsibility of the level monitoring centrally for their customers and offer this as a special service thus optimising their own material and delivery disposition and at the same time reducing the administrative effort involved.

Of course the cost question arises immediately – who should pay?! Or maybe does it pay for itself? In fact, closer analysis shows that the mill’s investment would amortise itself in a relatively short time due to the cost savings brought about by the optimised supply chain process.

Central-level measuring for mills
UWT GmbH are known in the industry as the expert for level measurement in bulk solids and have been providing made-to-measure solutions for many decades. With its long-term experience it has developed an economical and practical solution in the form of a central level-remote system for flour mills. This system works like this:

Lotsystem Nivobob® NB4200

Lotsystem Nivobob® NB4200

On each silo of the bakery the maintenance-free lot system Nivobob® 4000 is fitted for level monitoring. For easy mounting, just a standard 1.5 inch threaded socket in the silo roof is necessary. At the bakeries the level signals are bundled by the UWT software Nivotec® combined with a Wago WebController and the information received is passed to the Internet using an Ethernet connection via a routed IP address. The mill can securely access this information (password-protected) via any internet browser at any time of the day over a pre-defined IP address). It is possible to include any number of other customers in the visualisation system – without additional hardware or costs for the mill. If the priority is to keep installation at the bakeries to a minimum a GSM modem can be used to remotely access the data. In this case for the data transmission no Ethernet connection is required, but only a SIM card in the WAGO to pass the modem. This modem collects all level signals and sends them in an encrypted log via mobile phone over the Internet to the appropriate controller in the mill. As only small amounts of data are being sent is a low priced SIM contract sufficient for this purpose.

Current silo levels always comfortable available on your PC using visualization software Nivotec®

Current silo levels always comfortable available on your PC using visualisation software Nivotec®

The current silo levels can be displayed at the mill control center using the UWT Nivotec® visualisation software which can be accessed via the Internet browser on any Ethernet PC. The controller can see the real-time status of the silos because the visualisation controller is directly integrated into the Ethernet system.

Advantages and benefits of the level-remote system:
The benefit of the whole system is the simplification of the material disposition processes leading to a reduction of costs for all parties involved.

  • The installation of the system in the bakery as well as in the mill is straightforward and can usually be carried out by the mills own service engineers
  • Control cabinets only have to be set-up once; afterwards no additional IT support is necessary.
  • All silo levels can be visualised at the same time
    -> material planning security
  • The system can be dismantled at one customer and installed again at another  -> no new costs when customers change

The mill is able to hold the correct material in stock according to the customer’s material requirements and can optimise the logistical routes and schedules. Simply the availability of the required information which can avoid the need for express deliveries or empty runs can reduce the administrative effort dramatically. On the customer side, at the bakery, the task of manually checking the material level within the storage silos is eliminated and production bottlenecks due to a lack of material are history.

The material flow now follows a standard process with much greater planning security: Last but not least it naturally leads to a more harmonious working relationship and increased satisfaction on both sides which ultimately mean a stronger partnership between customer and supplier.


Energy experience shared by users and producers!

26/06/2014
Notable industry experts discussed the future of smart infrastructures, substation automation and the Internet of Energy, providing valuable insights for improving operational efficiency.

Last May industrial software and energy automation expert COPA-DATA hosted the Energy Experience Day in Warwick (GB), an event aimed at addressing the challenges currently faced by power utilities, municipalities and grid operators.

Engineers and analysts from all parts of industry attended the Energy Experience Day in May 2014

Engineers and analysts from all parts of industry attended  and participated in Copa-Data’s Energy Experience Day in May 2014

The energy industry, having gone through drastic changes over the last hundred years, now faces a new frontier of innovation. Usability, design, independence and the ergonomics of process control are paving the way for most critical industries. Sectors such as pharmaceutical, energy and infrastructure, food and beverage, manufacturing automation and automotive are seeking to revolutionise human interconnectivity.

Martyn Williams

Martyn Williams

Host to a series of expert presentations, the Energy Experience Day delivered insight into the key issues of standardisation and collaboration within the industry. Martyn Williams, Managing Director of COPA-DATA in Britain, kicked things off with a keynote speech looking at how far the industry has come over the last hundred years and what the future holds.

“The future of the energy industry is hugely dependent on continuous progress in the field of Smart Grids,” explained Williams. “Industrial automation software is one of the keys to creating a national grid system that is smart enough to meet the rising demand for energy and integrate renewable energy sources. Products like the zenon Energy Edition make interfaces more efficient, ergonomic and user-friendly, while also increasing the security of substations, power plants and wind farms.”

Focusing on substation automation and smart infrastructures, industry experts from Intel, Mitsubishi, Advantech, Bilfinger and the University of Salzburg (A) spoke at the event. The discussions centred on the need for standardisation within the energy supply chain.

In particular, the importance of standards such as IEC 61850, an embedded protocol used in supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) systems, was highlighted as the gateway to cost effective, multi-vendor substation automation. Its role in helping companies bridge the gap between centralised control and the increasingly dispersed nature of geo-information systems, was emphasised.

Ross Corfield, EMEA Market Development Manager for Intelligent Transportation at Intel, spoke about the Internet of Things (IoT), end-to-end (E2E) connectivity, infrastructure security and the growth of cloud computing.

“Intel is very keen to understand the issues and challenges faced by the energy sector,” he explained. “The COPA-DATA Energy Experience Day is the perfect opportunity to connect with people who operate on the ground and face these challenges on a day-to-day basis. For us, the event has been about how Intel can design the best technology that will make a difference for the future of energy.”

Juergen Resch

Juergen Resch

Jürgen Resch, Industry Manager for Energy at COPA-DATA, stressed the importance of best practice in substation automation. He demonstrated how the optimisation of software architecture has now improved control capability over geographically remote locations using portable and mobile devices.

Cost reduction was another key area highlighted by several speakers at the event. David Bean, Infrastructure Sales Manager at Mitsubishi UK, spoke about how effective telemetry and data management can yield significant cost savings in substation automation. Tony Milne, Manager for Power and Energy at Advantech, expanded on the topic of effective multi-vendor automation. He explained how IEC 61850 enables multi-vendor systems for substations to improve technical features, reduce costs and facilitate commissioning or installations.

Nigel Allen, Sales Manager at Bilfinger Industrial Automation Services, developed on the challenges faced by a non-integrated system which includes multiple companies, energy sources, interfaces, programming techniques and communication protocols. He then moved on to explain how Bilfinger addressed some of these challenges in an offshore wind farm project and an energy management application for large buildings.

Sébastien Roberto, Sales Manager at COPALP, COPA-DATA’s French subsidiary, also discussed the software needs of the energy industry. He emphasised the importance of using universal tools, which support protocols like IEC 61850, IEC 60870, MODBUS, DNP and DLMS/COSEM. He also stressed the importance of remote access, including online debugging and soft scope for the future of the energy industry. “The key,” Roberto concluded, “is to optimise resources, to ensure the reliability of products and make customers’ lives better.”

Simon Back, Researcher at the Salzburg University of Applied Sciences, offered a comprehensive presentation regarding the potential of bridging SCADA systems and Geoinformation systems (GIS) for the energy sector, particularly in the field of Smart Grids. For example, he explained, GIS can help visualise the position of electric consumers, generators and power lines of a Smart Grid, while SCADA can fulfil the surveillance and control function of the system.

Overall, the Energy Experience Day was received well by the public. Attendees included engineers and analysts from all parts of the industry including the British National Grid, Alstom, Atkins and Network Rail.

“The configuration specification [IEC 61850] is the key to industry development,” said Ray Zhang, Tech Leader of Automation Engineering at National Grid. “This is a wonderful forum for utilities developers, manufacturers and systems integrators to get together and share experiences and information.”

“The Energy Experience Day was all about giving people an idea, an inspiration about what can be achieved with standardised software, independence, ergonomics, IEC 61850 and collaborative partners,” explained Martyn Williams. “All of us at COPA-DATA would like to thank the attendees and we look forward to building on the success of this event with a follow-up session to be arranged for later this year.”


Keeping all Welsh air good!

25/06/2014
Air quality monitors track pollution hot-spots

Situated in the south west of Wales, in a largely rural area bordering the Brecon Beacons, Carmarthenshire’s air quality is predominantly good. However, there are areas of concern where major roads pass through some of the County’s larger towns, including Llanelli, Carmarthen and Llandeilo, where air quality is dominated by the effects of road traffic. The County Council is therefore testing new monitoring technologies so that it will be better able to track the effects of improvement measures.

The sensor!

The sensor!

Carmarthenshire County Council operates a network of passive diffusion tubes as part of its commitment to Local Air Quality Management under Part IV of the Environment Act 1995. However, in 2013, Air Monitors supplied the Council with a new type of air quality monitor, ‘AQMesh’, that is able to provide continuous air quality readings for a range of important parameters. This new technology is small, wireless, lightweight and battery powered, which means that it can be quickly and simply mounted in almost any location.

The Council’s monitoring programme has identified Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2) from traffic emissions, mostly diesel vehicles, as the pollutant of greatest concern. A number of locations in the centre of Llandeilo have been shown to be in breach of European air quality standards, so an Air Quality Management Area (AQMA) has been established in the town. Whilst NO2 levels are not sufficiently high to cause immediate health effects, the current levels could cause adverse health effects over the long term, particularly in people suffering from respiratory conditions such as asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

NO2 reduction by about 25µg/m3 is the main objective of the air quality action plan, but the Council is determined to ensure that all pollutants remain at safe levels, so the ability of the AQMesh to monitor a wide range of parameters (Ozone, Carbon Monoxide, Sulphur Dioxide, Nitrogen Monoxide, Nitrogen Dioxide, Temperature, Humidity and Atmospheric Pressure) is a major benefit.

Four features
Stephen Hoskin from Air Monitors says: “There are a number of important new features in AQMesh that are fundamentally changing the way that air quality is monitored; firstly, it can be located where air quality matters most – where people are breathing.

“Secondly, in comparison with large reference stations, with only a small drop in levels of accuracy, the cost of monitoring is reduced dramatically, which means that users will be able to measure air quality in more locations, and this will reduce the UK’s current dependence on modelling to ‘guesstimate’ air quality.

The unobtrusive sensor in situ!

The unobtrusive sensor in situ!

“Finally, by providing near real-time data over the internet, useful air quality data can be made available to a much wider audience via smartphones, tablets and computers.”

The AQMesh in Carmarthenshire is being operated by Oliver Matthews, one of the Council’s Environmental Health Practitioners with specific responsibility for air quality. He says: “In the past we have not continuously monitored this range of parameters because doing so would have involved the installation of a large, expensive air quality monitoring station that would have probably required planning permission.

“These reference stations offer high levels of accuracy, but come with large capital and operational costs, and cannot typically be moved, whereas the AQMesh can be quickly attached to a lamp post or other item of street furniture at a fraction of the cost.

“Alternatively, we could install passive diffusion tubes, one for each parameter of interest, but the disadvantage of this method is that the tubes are left in place for four to five weeks, so we are only provided with an average figure over that time, with no indication of the peaks and troughs that occur. For example, a recent road closure resulted in the diversion of traffic and, with the benefit of AQMesh, we were able to track a significant short-term rise in NO2.”

With the assistance of key stakeholders, the AQMA draft action plan has identified a number of options to improve air quality, and the AQMesh unit has been installed in order to help assess the success or failure of each initiative.

Interestingly, the development of the AQMA action plan benefitted from essential gas main works that were required in Llandeilo because this involved the closure of the main trunk road (Rhosmaen Street) for a period of up to three months, which provided an opportunity to identify the effects of traffic diversions on air quality.

Options that are being considered as part of the action plan include improving traffic management and seek to prevent vehicular ‘stop/start’ and promote a smooth flow of traffic. Typically, these options could include the provision of extra parking outside of the AQMA, the removal of some on-road parking within the AQMA, better parking enforcement, relocation of bus stops, reviewing pedestrian crossings and improvement of bottle necks.

Summarising Oliver says: “The network of diffusion tubes has enabled us to identify hotspots, and these are the locations at which the AQMesh will be of greatest use because we will be able to study trends and look for the causes of elevated pollution levels at specific times of the day.

“Data from the AQMesh are provided on a website via the ‘Cloud’ so, looking forward, this technology has the potential to make a major difference to air quality improvements and to the transparency and availability of data. For example, it may become possible to integrate air quality monitoring with automatic traffic management.”


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