Today, creating a sophisticated Internet of Things (IoT) network is easier than ever before. Low-power wide-area networks (LPWANs), such as LoRaWAN and Sigfox, can support hundreds of devices simultaneously that transmit small data packets over long distances.
Fortunately, many wireless sensors are both energy and cost-efficient. It’s also now possible to connect off-the-shelf devices from major manufacturers to the leading LPWANs using bridge sensors. As a result, operators can keep their upfront capital costs down while still taking advantage of the disruptive power of the IoT.
With the right wireless bridge technology, more industrial and commercial businesses can build IoT networks for next-gen applications. Wireless sensors and bridges form the backbone of tomorrow’s smart cities and factories. They enable high-tech surveillance and medical device monitoring. They’ll also play a significant role in the future of agriculture and environmental sustainability.
Dry contact sensors, in particular, have many uses. Here are several examples to highlight how some organizations are already using dry contact wireless sensors and bridges to form IoT networks today.
Dry Contact Sensors Defined
Contact sensors transmit signals when connectivity is detected between two wires. When talking about contact sensors, the word “dry” describes the state in which no current is flowing between the contacts.
Since they were first developed, contact sensors have been used heavily for commercial and residential security systems. Many dry contact sensor models today can last up to several years on a single battery charge, which means operators don’t have to spend as much time on routine network maintenance.
Dry contact sensors exist for indoor and outdoor applications. Many manufacturers also develop models that are designed specifically for harsh conditions, such as those involving extreme weather or temperatures.
Dry Contact Sensor Applications in IoT Networks
In the industrial, manufacturing, and commercial business worlds, there are many uses for dry contact sensors. Operators and facility managers can use these devices to monitor vast areas or campuses with big machinery and complex processes.
Dry contact sensors can track temperature, pressure, air quality, movement, and much more. Operators can deploy hundreds of these devices and automate the flow of data directly to cloud-based processors. Signal outputs from cost-effective, off-the-shelf sensors can even be translated into LPWAN messages with the right technology.
For example, security teams can use PIR motion sensors with dry contact outputs to monitor activity across industrial campuses or facilities. Dry contract bridges will pick up when sensor wires are shorted (i.e., movement is detected) and, in response, send alerts over LPWANs for processing. Consequently, security teams can watch large environments and reallocate human labor to more abstract, complex tasks.
Dry contact bridges can also relay messages from gas leak detectors that sense harmful chemicals in the air. Facility leads can incorporate carbon monoxide detectors and propane alarms into their next-gen IoT networks. They can also take advantage of smoke detectors with dry contact relays and notify emergency response teams of potential fires in the area. This functionality is especially valuable in factories that execute processes involving extreme temperatures.
Businesses with warehouse operations can use dry contact inclinometers to track opening and closing events for bay doors. For example, operators could cross-reference industrial door openings with scheduled deliveries using tilt sensors and dry contact bridges. They could also install inclinometers on vehicles that send signals across LoRaWAN or Sigfox when they reach unusual angles or orientations.
Many manufacturers rely on pressure systems for certain processes. Differential or pneumatic pressure sensors with dry contact outputs can also function as IoT devices. Pressure switches can measure the flow of fluids through factory pipes or monitor weight on commercial elevators. These sensors can also be installed under pressure-sensitive mats in industrial environments and programmed to send alerts through wireless bridges when maximize capacities are exceeded.
There are also level sensors with dry contact outputs that can assess how much liquid, powder, or other types of materials exist in an industrial tank. Operators can build information streams that alert personnel when levels reach minimum or maximum volumes.
Lower Barriers to Entry for the IoT
In summary, dry contact sensors used in conjunction with the right wireless bridge technology enable IoT network developers to transform simple, low-cost devices into IoT devices.
Operators can protect people, assets, and property by automating data transmissions between on-site sensors and off-site processing units. As a result, businesses can improve their returns on investment and save time and money building powerful IoT solutions.