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Browse Prior Art Database

COMMUNICATING WITH REMOTE SENSORS

IP.com Disclosure Number: IPCOM000007679D
Original Publication Date: 1996-May-01
Included in the Prior Art Database: 2002-Apr-15
Document File: 4 page(s) / 205K

Publishing Venue

Motorola

Related People

Roger L. Sevison: AUTHOR

Abstract

Industrial businesses often have remote, offsite facilities where materials are stored or processed in some manner. Various transportation modes (e.g., railroad cars, tank trucks, barges, tanker ships) move and store bulk materials for customers. While sen- sors exist to measure level, flow, and other parame- ters of the material, integrated, real-time reporting of the data to a central location from these remote sites often is lacking. Integrating instruments with cellular modems, GPS receivers, and even data secu- rity devices makes it possible to collect and main- tain current inventory status at remote and some- times mobile sites. Using satellite based global communications system, inventories can be tracked and monitored around the world.

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MOlVROLA Technical Developments

8

COMMUNICATING WITH REMOTE SENSORS

by Roger L. Sevison

ABSTRACT

  Industrial businesses often have remote, offsite facilities where materials are stored or processed in some manner. Various transportation modes (e.g., railroad cars, tank trucks, barges, tanker ships) move and store bulk materials for customers. While sen- sors exist to measure level, flow, and other parame- ters of the material, integrated, real-time reporting of the data to a central location from these remote sites often is lacking. Integrating instruments with cellular modems, GPS receivers, and even data secu- rity devices makes it possible to collect and main- tain current inventory status at remote and some- times mobile sites. Using satellite based global communications system, inventories can be tracked and monitored around the world.

INTRODUCTION

  Monitoring the contents of remote storage facili- ties has long been a problem for businesses. Know- ing how much of a substance is at a given location ofien requires sending someone out to check; even then, the data is not current. From large, remote oil storage tanks to railroad tank cars and other appli- cations, monitoring level and flow has always been a difficult, ifnot impossible task.

  For example, in the case of railroad tank cars, an operator puts a product in the car and sends it to a customer with no way of monitoring the rate of product usage. Empty cars sit and wait for the oper- ator to be notified when they are ready to make a pick up. Suppliers cannot plan efficient "just in time" product flow to customers if they do not know the rate of product consumption from the cars. More of the expensive cars are needed to maintain a flow of product and thus a greater than necessary resource investment is expended.

Communications systems for monitoring sensors

on remote, permanent installations are available, such as traditional two-way radio and satellite data links, but they have limitations. Two-way radio links ohen require "line of sight" operation of not more than five miles range, thus limiting their applications. Satellite data links require large antennas and are expensive.

  The growth of personal communications has opened a new way for businesses to monitor instru- ments at their remote, fixed and mobile facilities. Most populated areas of the country are now cov- ered by cellular telephone systems, with coverage expanding daily, Using cellular technology, businesses can use low data rate communications to periodi- cally monitor (and control) level, flow, or whatever parameters are desired at these remote locations.

  Knowing the location of expensive assets such as tank cars and barges is also ofvalue. Tankers can be lost in a system or simply forgotten at a cus- tomer location. Locating,these assets can be accom- plished by integrating a Global Positioning System (GPS) receiver in to an !instrument to report posi- tion along with level and/or flow information. An automa...