vacuum pump prototype

IoT Use Case with an Electric Vacuum Pump

by Falk Petzold and Tibor Szabó

This IoT use case shows how you can use the Record Evolution platform for IoT and AI to connect any device to the cloud, from interface-free prototypes to large machines, and collect data. You’ll learn how easily apps can be installed on IoT devices around the world, and how live data can be analyzed in the browser so that all your team members can learn about the status of their devices from anywhere, at any time.

To demonstrate all this, we have set up a use case with an electric vacuum pump from the automotive sector:

Video showing the vacuum pump prototype with attached sensors and Raspberry Pi sending live data to the Record Evolution platform where the data is visualized instantly

The setup of our IoT use case

sketching out the overall setup for the IoT use case
Image 1. Use case setup

The IoT device is a central element in the entire setup as it ensures the secure connection between the pump and the Record Evolution platform.

Authorized users can access the edge device from any browser. This gives us the advantage that the vacuum pump prototype can remain in one place while the app for the use case is developed remotely, directly on the device.

The vacuum pump app installed on the edge device sends data coming from six IoT sensors attached to the vacuum pump. The data is sent to a protected data pod on the Record Evolution platform where it is automatically analyzed and visualized in near real-time.

the vacuum pump building process
Image 2. The prototype setup

A valve attached to the bottom of the base plate can be used to create an error situation by preventing the target vacuum from building up.

attaching the sensors to the vacuum pump
Image 3. I2C Bus system with sensors
image of the engine control unit
Image 4. Engine control unit

The vacuum pump is controlled by the G2 18v25 motor control unit from Pololu. The control unit and some of the sensors are connected to the edge device via an I2C bus system.

In our IoT use case, the edge device is a Raspberry Pi 4. However, you can also use controllers from WAGO, Beckhoff, and other Unix-capable computers.

The current is measured using an HLSR 32-P sensor from LEM. In addition, we collect measurement data from the speed sensor and measure the voltage by means of two resistors:

image showing the pump board
Image 5. The board
visualizing the pump performance
Image 6. Signal speed sensor A1324

Connecting to the Record Evolution Platform 

To connect the Raspberry Pi 4 (our edge device) to the platform, it is necessary to burn a micro SD card with the Record Evolution operating system ReswarmOS.

The Record Evolution Reflasher will take care of this in just a few minutes. Details about the Reflasher and download links can be found in the platform documentation.

step-by-step guide to flashing the SD card
Image 7. Flashing a card with the Record Evolution Reflasher [image credit micro SD card:]

The edge device then automatically connects to the Record Evolution platform after a short time. As soon as the device lights up in green in the browser, the connection to the platform is established.

map view on the platform: all edge devices at a glance
Image 8. All edge devices at a glance

On the platform, you can create device groups containing multiple edge devices and get an overview of the different device locations. The data coming from all pumps is analyzed safely in the browser and can be used for product development, maintenance services, or usage-based billing.

Developing an IoT app for the vacuum pump

A professional development environment is another component of the Record Evolution platform. With less than 30 lines of code, you seamlessly record the signal of a temperature sensor and store the data in the cloud.

From the dropdown menu, you select any of your connected edge devices to run the app. This allows developers to work with the real sensor data and get working results much faster.

the app development environment for the IoT use case
Image 9. The development environment in the browser

The code is packaged as an app and then deployed to the Record Evolution App Store. Now the app can be quickly rolled out to many more edge devices.

Other apps from the platform’s public app store show, for example, the GPS location of a device, or send a message in the event of an error:

the vacuum pump app shown in the IoT app store
Image 10. The vacuum pump app in the Record Evolution app store

Sending measurement data from the pump to the cloud

The Record Evolution Plattform für IoT und Data Science offers the possibility to set up different data sources. For our setup, we have selected the IoT source:

IoT use case: creating a data source for the incoming IoT data
Image 11. Creating an IoT data source

The data is automatically transformed and stored in a target table.

The created IoT data source pulls the data sent by the edge device and stores it in a raw table in the cloud. In the platform’s data pipes, the data packages are transformed into a format that is accessible for analysis and stored in a long-term target table. A preview gives you a glimpse of the live incoming data. You can also download the data in an Excel format:

IoT use case: transforming the IoT data in pipes
Image 12. Automated data transformation

In the cloud, all data is stored in a secure central location and new data is added seamlessly to the existing data pool. This enables the location-independent analysis of almost unlimited amounts of data. However, it is also possible to run the entire system on-premises in your own data center or on a virtual private cloud.

Analyzing the pump measurement data

In the platform’s data science workbooks, the query shown below filters the existing measurement data of the pump for a specified time interval. In addition, the following measured variables are derived:

  1. Motor torque
  2. Electrical power
  3. Mechanical power
  4. Efficiency
  5. Cumulative energy cost
IoT use case: analyzing in data science workbooks
Image 13. Analyzing the measurement data

Live performance graph in the browser

Under the following link, you can inspect the pump performance and zoom into the data by dragging a window on the screen with the mouse:

IoT use case: visualizing the pump performance in a custom infographic
Image 14. Showing the pump’s performance in the browser

And that’s just the beginning. From here, we can develop many different IoT examples and use cases. For instance, it’s now easy to expand your fleet and scale to multiple vacuum pumps working simultaneously. All you need to do is flash more Raspberry Pis and add them to your swarm or group of IoT enabled devices.

This IoT use case illustrates what is possible within the context of a variety of industrial applications and IoT application scenarios, including predictive maintenance, remote monitoring, energy consumption tracking, operational efficiency analysis, condition monitoring, asset tracking, as well as more sophisticated cases across the manufacturing industry.

Want to learn more about this IoT use case? Then schedule an online demo presentation here and run the prototype from your browser or drop me a line. I will be happy to answer your questions.

Bild von Marko Petzold

Marko Petzold
Record Evolution GmbH
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