IoT satellite sensor boost for wind turbines and mining

IoT satellite sensor boost for wind turbines and mining

Technology News |
By Nick Flaherty

An Australian startup has developed a sensor that uses acoustic analysis, machine learning and the Internet of Things (IoT) to continuously detect wind turbine blade damage. It is now looking at using the technology to monitor mining equipment.

The heart of the sensor is an algorithm that can rate the health of the turbine based on its acoustic signature and monitor changes over time. The monitor magnetically attaches to wind turbine towers and actively listens to the blades’ acoustic signature while rotating to detect blade faults such as pitting or cracks caused by lightning strikes or hail. The conical shape protects its microphone from rain, debris such as bird droppings, and ground level noise.

The Adelaide-based company is currently installing 55 of its listening devices on turbines at a wind farm in Victoria as part of a three-month pilot program.

Ping Services closed a $650,000 seed fund round in July after securing an additional $200,000 in funding from the Australian government earlier this year and was part of the University of South Australia’s inaugural space incubator program Venture Catalyst Space. The company is also working with neighbouring satellite communications startup Myriota to transmit data in remote areas.

The 2.0 Monitor being installed on wind turbines uses Myriota’s direct-to-orbit satellite connectivity and is powered by its own small solar panel. “We’ve developed our own acquisition system that has its own custom Myriota communication board so we do all the acoustic measurements and processing on our system and a few times a day we transmit the results over the Myriota communication system, which is satellite connected,” said Matthew Stead, CEO of Ping. “That information then come to us via our cloud platform and the wind farms will have access to that.”

Next: US sensor rollout

Up to 40 more monitors will also be tested at wind farms in the US in the coming months, most likely in Texas and West Virginia. “Our absolute hope is to have these large-scale trials turn into commercial agreements and we’re investigating the best ways to scale up the manufacturing plan,” said Stead. ““Our target is 20,000 units in five years.”

Ping is now investigating how to use the sensor technology across the mining industry to listen for faults in equipment. says Stead. “That would be listening for things like conveyor belt bearing damage and wheel bearing damage on freight rail wagons,” he said. Replacing a noisy bearing could prevent more serious damage occurring if the problem was not addressed, he added.

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