The basic concept of the IoT (Internet of Things) is that it uses many types of sensors, 'Trillion Sensors Universe' which was advanced by Dr.Janusz Bryzek, and then uploads the information gathered to systems in a cloud network. Advances in the technology on which the IoT is based allow collection of Huge amounts of data from a wide variety of sensors; therefore, it is now possible not only to directly gather data from individual sensors, but also to understand more abstract situations.
Currently, this technology is under consideration for applications in industrial plants, infrastructure, and distribution management. For example, Various types of sensors can collect information from plant facilities, such as pipelines and tanks, or infrastructure facilities, such as roads, underground pipes, bridges, and tunnels. This information can be collected during normal operations and provide a basis for recommended maintenance at appropriate times, helping with facility preservation.
Because systems like this would use a considerable number of sensors, it is necessary to create sensor systems that are cheaper and easier to install than they currently are. To realize such a sensor system, flexible hybrid electronics (FHE) using both printing technologies and silicon technologies are attracting attention.
Yokogawa is engaged in research and development at the Center of Innovation (COI) program at Yamagata University through co-creating activities with the university and other companies.
Yokogawa aims to realize a wide variety of thin sensor systems that can be flexibly installed in large areas, and is developing these sensor systems using printing technology. To overcome difficulties in realizing wireless communications by using only printing technologies, Yokogawa has developed FHE sensor systems using both wireless technologies of silicon devices and flexible printing technologies. The sensor systems are thin and flexible, and can be easily attached anywhere, i.e., these can be used for health care and logistics management. Yokogawa is currently conducting research and development aimed at industrial applications of this system.
Vision for the future
We are developing a highly flexible sheet sensor system in an array with a larger area, various types, and many sensors. The sensor system can be adapted for various purposes and measurements. For example, the same sensor system can collect various information such as temperature distribution, flow speed, vibration, and liquid leaks, if it is attached to pipes at a plant, and can also obtain information on the movement of people or things from pressure distribution and electrostatic capacity if applied to a floor. The system makes it possible to judge more abstract operational efficiency and diagnose the life of equipment, among other things.
Indeed, if the sensor is attached to individual packages, it can be applied to quality control in logistics, and can also be used in health care if it is attached to a person.