Every year, Inwerken cooperates with North Dakota State University in the form of exciting projects carried out by students and trainees. In 2019, the two cooperation partners are involvede in the “IoT” area. A very interesting development field, which contains many creative aspects and active involvement in various topics. In the joint effort projects learning is combined with fun but at the end of the project, the result is a finished product which is a positive side effect. This year, the subsidiary of Inwerken AG, “WSN”, agreed  to sponsor the hardware in the form of a gateway and sensors. The project allows us to gain new experiences in the field of IoT, JS Frameworks and Node, which will also offer us advantages in the future programming world.

How is the communication done in the NDSU project?
The distance between North Dakota and Germany is appx.7000 kms. Despite the time difference of 7 hours, contact is maintained around the clock with weekly Skype meetings and data sharing via Slack and Github. The students in North Dakota work with the project management method “Scrum” and use the project as part of their practice-oriented thesis, which they will present at the end of their study year.

What does the project have to do with Kansan?
The WSN product range includes many different types of sensors, such as temperature, kanban and humidity sensors. The most interesting for us, is the kanban sensor. This is installed in the so-called roller conveyor racks and when a box is removed, the sensor reports this information to the “Gateway” – the hub of the IoT system. An existing IT infrastructure is always a prerequisite.
Conversely, this means an enormous effort for connecting the sensors to larger systems (SAP, etc.). It is therefore, complicated to show the functions and capabilities of the IoT system to the customer beforehand. With our solution, we want to significantly reduce this effort, reduce terms of costs, and create a system that works according to the plug-n-play principle and is fully operational.

Our own IoT platform
We are building our own IoT platform – right on the gateway! Our goal is therefore, is the development of a stand alone app with the greatest flexibility and scalability. The processes of the app are depicted as follows:
• Receive the sensor data
• Save the sensor data in a local database
• Visualize the sensor data in the web app
• Assign sensor data to buildings, departments, rooms and shelves in the UI
Based on the latest technologies such as “Node” and “Angular 7”, the project will be implemented in the form of a single page application with live charts and diagrams. This offers advantages that slowly manifest themselves and give the app a familiar, clear look and feel. The difference to a conventional website lies in the dynamics, the interactivity and the speed. The app is as easy to use as we are used to from the App Store or Google Play Store.

Special features of the solution

The project is interesting in the aspect that we hereby, create a solution with which an easy installation of à la Plug n Play is possible. That means you only need one gateway and a few sensors to get an IoT system that allows you to directly derive basic evaluations and optimization requirements of your materials. Costly installation and integration into the existing IT infrastructure are always associated with costs and risks. With our approach though,  these worries are more or less eliminated.

What does the end product look like and where to find it?
The system will be showcased in the near future along with the WSN product range at trade shows or at our corporate locations. Interested parties can convince themselves by experiencing the app live as well as interacting with it. If the customer chooses a system, he will  take the gateway and some sensors with him. All you have to do is to insert the plug into the socket and the system is ready for use.

Screenshot 1: How could the product look like?

Screenshot 2: Visualization by Live Charts