Supercapacitor power and environmental monitoring solution

11th September 2018
Alex Lynn


Sudden power failure or unstable electricity supply, even just for one minute, can result in damage to expensive production machinery. As such, uninterruptible power supplies (UPS) have become standard industrial equipment.

In response to the need, ARBOR, industrial PC (IPC) and industrial IoT (IIoT) solutions, has recently introduced SCP CUBE, a UPS system that uses supercapacitors and does a lot more than ensuring reliable power supply.

Integrated with LoRa communication technology and sensors, SCP CUBE serves not only as a UPS but also as an IIoT sensor node. It can further wok with central gateways and cloud servers to form a total IIoT solution.

Supercapacitors provide safety features

Compared to bulky battery-powered UPS that can supply electricity for hours, ARBOR's supercapacitor-based UPS, SCP CUBE, provides backup power for a couple of minutes. Its main purpose is to allow the system to have enough time for a standard shutdown so as to guard against damage to hardware and software of built-in equipment.

UPS using supercapacitors have multiple advantages, including higher conversion efficiency and shorter charging time. Furthermore, conventional batteries are prone to failure in high or low temperature environments while supercapacitors can maintain normal operation under a wide temperature range (-20 to +70°C), outperforming lead-acid batteries and lithium-ion batteries. Moreover, supercapacitors can last for unlimited charge-discharge cycles in theory and are essentially maintenance-free. These are all supercapacitors' advantages that conventional batteries cannot match.

Lin Yang-Cheng, Associate Manager, Industry Automation Division, ARBOR, stated: "It should be noted that we cannot overlook the risk of battery explosion especially in operating environments where there may be oil and gas. Supercapacitors pose no safety risk so they don't need to get certified for air transport."

Supercapacitors are environmentally friendly and safe and operate in a wide temperature range. Exploiting their inherent advantages, ARBOR has designed SCP CUBE, which not only guarantees uninterruptible power supply but also enables customisable editing, data monitoring and data analysis. For example, customers can configure a shutdown timer based on the number of software programs running on their IPC.

Total solution for IIoT deployment

ARBOR SCP CUBE further combines the company's internally-developed LoRa communication module, enabling it to collect data from sensor nodes deployed on production machinery, such as CPU load, temperature, current, voltage and power input, and send the data to the central gateway. This way, one central gateway can monitor data sent from hundreds of sensor nodes and respond to abnormality by initiating a system reset or other actions.

Yang-Cheng added: "For manufacturers looking to migrate to smart factories, SCP CUBE's innovative design truly enables the connection of everything. Manufacturers will be able to implement all-round IIoT monitoring and control with an extremely cost-effective approach." 

Furthermore, the gateway can forward the collected data to cloud servers via Wi-Fi/3G/4G network connection for more advanced data management and analysis. ARBOR also provides internally-developed apps allowing users to stay on top of machinery conditions at all times and receive alert messages in the case of any abnormality on their smartphones through the cloud so that they can make timely responses. 

In addition, as a modular standalone device, SCP CUBE is compatible with all types and brands of production machinery, enabling quick and easy IIoT deployment.

NB-IoT modules 

In addition to long-range transmission, LoRa also achieves low-power, low-cost and bi-directional communication. ARBOR thinks LoRa is a particularly suitable LPWAN technology for IIoT deployment so it began its LoRa product Research and Development two years ago. 

By providing communication modules, ARBOR aims to eliminate network communication problems for manufacturers looking to incorporate IIoT platforms. Another IoT network communication technology that ARBOR is actively working on is NB-IoT, which can also be integrated with SCP CUBE through a modular design to more flexibly accommodate customers' specific IIoT needs.

SCP CUBE serves as a fundamental element in ARBOR's IIoT roadmap. By introducing SCP CUBE, combining supercapacitor-based UPS, LoRa, sensors and edge computing and working in connection with central gateway and cloud server, ARBOR helps customers deploy IIoT platforms at a faster pace and lower cost and thereby contributes to the advances of smart manufacturing and Industry 4.0.

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