Remote Bin Level Monitoring in the Cloud

The industrial world traditionally lags behind the consumer world in terms of technology adoption. This is done for reasons of reliability, cost, and sometimes fear of change. If ain't broke why fix it?

Why is this relevant? IOT can provide game changing and cost saving data collection, but the industrial world has been slow to adapt. Suddenly devices that were considered "passive" can now be connected to a SCADA or DCS system. This has its advantages. The data is stored and processed in a single location by the system that is running the site. It can be used as part of a LEAN or Six Sigma process improvement project internal to the site's automation environment. It also has its drawbacks.

What if people outside the organization can benefit from the data collected? IT departments are understandably reluctant to grant remote access to their own organizations let alone a 3rd party. Typical process control networks are isolated from the outside either physically or via enterprise level firewall protection. We live in an era where industrial sabotage is a real concern and ransom attacks can cost millions in lost production time.

The solution: The MONODON remote bin monitoring system developed by Tusk Automation is a bolt on addition. It does not need to be routed through any aspect of a site's automation or IT networks. It provides a standalone data acquisition, trending, and logging platform which can provide user selectable alarm set points, downloadable reports, and real time status updates.

By offering a passive data collection system we segregate the data from the process system. The data can be democratized for a variety of applications by 3rd party service providers. We protect the site's network and still allow authorized users to access information that can lower costs and improve performance.

Application Example #1:

A mill is selling wood fiber to a pulp mill in a nearby community. The pulp mill has a trucking company who picks up and delivers the fiber. The pulp mill buys from several mills in the area and they weight the trucks as they come in to calculate how much material they purchase. After an audit the pulp mill discovers that 15% of the weight they have in their yard is composed of stones and other non-wood material. Using our system the pulp mill can go back to each supplier and track the volume and estimated weight of each shipment they purchased and correlate that to what was weighed in at the scales to confirm where the bulk of the foreign material is coming from and charge back accordingly.

Application Example #2:

A plywood mill purchases resin and other chemicals in bulk from a supplier located 10hrs away. They typically receive shipments monthly and maintain storage tanks to hold 2 months supply as a buffer. The mill is upgrading and wants to install new holding tanks. By adding the MONODON system to the new tanks and setting it up to notify the resin supplier when a tank is at 50% capacity automatically, the mill is able to reduce the tanks to half their original size reducing capital costs. This arrangement allows the resin supplier to deliver Just-In-Time inventory reducing inventory costs. Historical data collected by the system allows both the user and the supplier to predict resin consumption and plan deliveries accordingly.

IOT is here. If we embrace it intelligently, we gain tremendous cost savings while mitigating the risks of having web enabled industrial systems. Accurate data enables better decision making. Democratize data.


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