Modern manufacturing plants are going wireless at an unprecedented pace. In a revolution that some call “Industry 4.0,” factories are implementing industrial internet-of-things (IIOT) technologies that allow for real-time, data-driven methods and strategies. And on the factory floor, wireless technology is more prevalent and profitable than ever before.
But with new forms of integration come new challenges. As IIoT technologies become increasingly commonplace, manufacturers are required to solve a different set of problems. These new devices require power, and it’s not always clear how to deliver this power in an effective way. To address this challenge and bring the Industry 4.0 revolution to its peak, manufacturing plants are turning to long-range wireless charging.
As data and analytics become more essential to manufacturing, a growing number of factory owners are deploying devices and technologies to maximize efficiency, speed and quality. Many rely on some of the following:
By using IIoT wireless technologies, these different devices are able to seamlessly communicate. "It's not just about the sensors and the data conductivity,” says Steven Martin, chief digital officer of power at General Electric. “It's understanding the value and then making decisions on how to optimize that hardware based on the economic reality."
There’s one universal demand on the factory floor: power. Indeed, it wasn’t until the advent of steam engines that factories themselves became a common mode of construction. While the source of power has changed, the same concept applies.
The vast majority of these IoT devices are portable and flexible. Manufacturers can place the devices where they need them or keep them handheld, depending on the situation. In order to keep these devices powered, factory floors turn high-efficiency batteries as a solution, or try to route wires and power cords.
But over time, even powerful batteries have these noticeable drawbacks:
Some manufacturers have taken to using alternative power sources to alleviate these energy concerns. The most popular option thus far has been solar paneling, but even it has some major drawbacks. First, solar panels can only derive so much energy from electric lighting. Second, the size of the panels are usually limited by the surface area on the device they’re intended to power (devices which get more compact all the time).
Wireless Power Presents a Solution
A growing number of manufacturers are turning to an innovative technology to solve this problem: long range wireless power. By using energy that is beamed from a distance, modern long range wireless charging systems can power a wide range of devices safely and efficiently — without interfering with production priorities — and unleash the full potential of Industry 4.0.
Here’s how the technology works. Master transmitters are installed periodically throughout the factory or workplace. Any device that needs power can then be hooked into this charging network via a simple wireless power receiver.
There are several candidate technologies for long-range wireless power, but a very promising one is using infrared light. This invisible energy source can safely and efficiently deliver substantial power from a distance, and offers several key advantages for manufacturers:
The Benefits of Wireless Charging
For manufacturers looking to keep their process lean, agile and profitable, wireless charging presents several powerful benefits, which include:
With long-range wireless charging in place, manufacturers can focus on using IIoT to innovate — and customize factory floors for a data-driven future.
Yuval Boger is chief marketing officer at Wi-Charge.
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