October 23, 2014 — The rapidly growing remote monitoring and control industry demands end-to-end solutions for machine-to-machine (M2M); supervisory, control and data acquisition (SCADA); and Internet of Things (IoT) communications, according to officials from TESSCO, which is expanding its reach into this market segment.
Deployment of remote control and monitoring systems represents a new opportunity for value-added resellers, integrators and other companies that currently wire buildings for wireless communications, Robert Barnhill Jr., president and CEO, TESSCO, told AGL Small Cell Link.
Edge Devices Use Less Power
In terms of traditional remote monitoring offerings, TESSCO has offered SCADA for industrial applications and positive train control, but it is looking to expand its solutions with new, leading-edge devices. Today’s edge devices have advanced and now have lower power requirements that can be met with solar, batteries or fuel cells, which means they can be smaller, more plentiful and remote. Sensors are also becoming more robust and accurate.
“You will see more companies in the industrial and enterprise spaces looking at new applications for the sensors and actuators, because they are becoming more sophisticated and diverse,” Barnhill said.
Companies are looking to glean more information from these sensors. For example, ground transportation companies can measure the amount of driving time, sleep time and idle time, as well as fuel consumption. As an extreme example of what is possible, Formula One cars have hundreds of different data points that can be analyzed in real time.
A wide variety of edge devices will be utilized by TESSCO in its end-to-end solutions, whether it is in a so-called smart home or in the oil fields, and the distributor is agnostic to the communications medium.
“The advantage we have is we can work with the customer to find out how they want to take the data backward or forward,” Barnhill said. “It may demand satellite, private microwave or cellular, depending on the available connectivity.” A solution needs to be engineered from the edge device all the way to the backhaul, he added.
Fields of Opportunity for VARs: Embraceable M2M
Oil and gas, a longtime SCADA user, is one of the big industries looking for more advanced data on operations in the field. Utilities and commercial buildings also have a lot to gain from wireless automation. In particular, traditional VARs and integrators that are wiring buildings for wireless connectivity have new opportunities to get involved in wirelessly controlling how that building operates.
“Multi-tenant office building managers understand the need to provide Wi-Fi coverage, cellular coverage, the smart home or Internet of Things, and video surveillance. That is the quad play. Those are the areas that we are very focused on,” Barnhill said.
TESSCO has always been involved in the infrastructure side of communication to and from remote monitoring and control. But what has changed because of the convergence of wireless and the Internet is that new end-to-end solutions can be engineered.
“You can do things now that you could not do before. It is a part of the evolution and it is a major opportunity,” Barnhill said.
Big Data + M2M = Productivity
M2M networks have been out there quite a few years, but today there are new performance metrics that can be measured with M2M and now companies have the ability to analyze the huge amounts of data that sensors and edge devices feed to the back office. The ability to process the information known as “Big Data” allows companies to perform predictive analytics.
“In the past, people would deploy sensors and collect a good deal of information but would not know what to do with it,” Barnhill said. “With the evolution of different data analysis tools and the ability to quickly process the data coming in, companies can now make sense of what the sensors are telling them, and they can take more actionable steps to resolve or address the issues.”
As more application possibilities arise, including location tracking, diagnostics, process automation, remote monitoring/control and entertainment, the M2M market will grow to $196 billion and a penetration level of 80 percent by 2020, according to SNS Research Report.
J. Sharpe Smith is the editor of AGL Small Cell Link and AGL Link. He can be reached at ssmith (at) aglmediagroup.com