In our latest Technology Tuesdays podcast, Design World’s Mary Gannon speaks with ITT Enidine’s Dan Kowalik, about the company’s entrance into the IoT world with its intelligent shock absorber, the Sentinel 1.
A lightly edited transcript of this conversation follows below:
Mary Gannon: I’m Mary Gannon and today I’m joined by Dan Kowalik, director of engineering for ITT Enidine. Thanks for being here today, Dan.
Dan Kowalik: Well, thank you Mary for having me. My name is Dan Kowalik, director of engineering at ITT Enidine. What I wanted to talk to today is about Enidine’s new product called Sentinel 1. And Sentinel is, is our first step in, I call it digitizing or an IoT-enabled device of our standard heavy-duty shock systems. And what Sentinel 1 is, is a sensor that’s uh, attached to our shock device. The sensor actually is wireless and also has its own power generation power harvesting capabilities. So this IoT device actually will send a wireless signal every time our shock or heavy-duty shock is engaged. Our customers actually have these shocks in remote locations of the warehouse, in automating a warehousing system where to, quote unquote runaway or they lose control of it, it’s in a remote location where there’s not typically wiring.
There are not typically provisions to really know what the health is of this system. This wireless system that we have with power harvesting and the capabilities to send a wireless signal with no battery, again, it’s harvesting its own power every time the sensor is actually weighed. It allows our customers to install these in remote locations and then monitor the health of the system. We really feel like this is a need that we’ve sensed and talked to our key customers where they just aren’t able to monitor some of our products in some of the areas where it goes. So this really helps solve a problem that our customers have. The other benefit is it’s low maintenance. Our sensor does not have a battery. So, there’s really low to no maintenance.
Mary Gannon: You mentioned warehouse — are there specific markets you’re targeting with this product where you would want to be using it? Specific applications?
Dan Kowalik: Yeah, so this is in broad industrial applications. One specific application is warehousing. Other applications are our simple automation processes, where you may have product that may be moving at a high rate of speed. And our heavy-duty shock absorbers will carefully slow down and stop heavier products. It allows you to run the operation at a higher speed when you can then carefully stop it when it needs to for certain operations. We also see our Sentinel 1 product could be very beneficial in any general automation type applications where again, you can monitor the health of the product and, and also integrate that into the system. I think that’s one of our key value propositions as well is not only just health monitoring, activity monitoring, that ability to monitor the activity at the shock helps it to integrate into the PLC system or the automation system that’s running the whole process. So you can know something’s happened at that shock and now something hasn’t happened at that shock or, or the product has left that shock. And we can indicate a signal when something first impacts the shock and then we can indicate another signal when something leaves that shock. So our value proposition is that we want to become more part of the system. And in with that, we think that adds more value proposition to the customer.
Mary Gannon: Is this designed for for uptime and maintenance or is it to kind of keep an eye on where these processes are going and how they’re operating?
Dan Kowalik: So it’s, it’s actually designed for both. So in some applications, our product is meant to never be used. It’s positioned in locations where it’s for emergency use only. In that case, our product works really well. The Sentinel 1 product, because you can install this in remote locations, these locations you may not have access to, to power, to have sensors, et cetera. So this can sit there in the remote location and then it would indicate and send the signal, when something happens. So in that scenario, you typically are looking for an event. If you saw an event then that would trigger the system and that could be used in the automation system to maybe stop the line. You could then initiate emails or text messages or, or lights to turn on in the automation system so that the technicians and the safety team could come out and assess like with something damaged, et Cetera.
In other scenarios, our product is an integral part of the process. And as I mentioned earlier, there’s many situations where to get the most efficiency out of the automation line product is moving along at a high rate of speed. And there’s points in the process where you need to stop the product to do some kind of process to it, some kind of step to an operational step. And our product helps to carefully slow down the product and then it moves along. And in that case Sentinel 1 can be used to be part of the automation process. So that information could be fed to the PLC or the computer that’s running the whole process. And that can be used to understand when something’s at the shock and when something’s left the shock. So that can help as far as the programming of the system.
The other aspect too is — you had mentioned maintenance — our product in some cases, again, our product can be used in, you know, emergency only situations. In other cases, in the automation case where our product is used in every cycle of the automation process. There are maintenance regimes that the product goes through. So using the data from the onboard sensor, you can have PM milestones as the product matures through its life. So at some point there’s PM related items per so many cycles, so that can really help improve the uptime of the automation process of the line by being able to do PM and understand, okay, something’s at X amount of hundreds of thousands of cycles that should have some kind of refurbishment and then we can help work with that supplier, that customer to offer replacement units while other units are being overhauled. So we do feel like that can really help with the uptime of the system.
Mary Gannon: Uptime is really important, especially as, you know, these machines get faster and are kind of smashed into more compact spaces. When I’m talking about speed a little bit, do you think that the increasing speed in manufacturing is going to require more use of technologies such as this?
Dan Kowalik: I do. I think that uptime is very important. I think the greater your efficiency, typically the less footprint you need for whatever your process is. So uptime is extremely important and I definitely see as we move into the future, uptime will be X, you know, even more exponentially important.
Mary Gannon: So this has been a one of the biggest pushes for ITT Enidine. As you get into these smart technologies, what do you see as the future of shock absorbing and vibration damping technologies in the future for you guys?
Dan Kowalik: What I see in the future is, is shock absorbers, products that are more integrated into the whole system. So they’re working within the whole system, they’re living and breathing within the system and it’s all completely integrated. And to me that all helps with uptime, greater speed, smaller footprints of these systems. And that again leads to more and more efficiency. But that’s the general trend that we’re seeing is that products need to be more integrated into the system. Right now, many of these products are just add on individual components, not integrated. And that’s the trend that we’re seeing.
Mary Gannon: And that sounds like that’s a trend that’s kind of across the board in manufacturing. Any other thoughts you wanted to share about Sentinel or where listeners can get more information on the product.
Dan Kowalik: So listeners can get more information if they search ITT Enidine. There’s a whole slew of new products that we’re releasing. Again, what I see in the future is more and more of our products —we are, I call it digitizing or IoT. The other things again I see is we’re developing products that will be more reactive to the current situation. So right now, many of the products we offer are preconfigured in, in one mechanical configuration, for that specific task. What we’re developing is products that could actually be more dynamic and be more real-time too, to help absorb some of the variations within the automation process. So for example, if something is meant to go at 10 at, you know, three meters per second and a product comes in at five meters per second, right now, some systems may not be able to handle that, but we want to offer products that can actually dynamically adjust and be adaptive to those situations and, and still allow the assembly process to the automation process to continue forward without a hitch, you know, increasing efficiency, better uptime, and helpin to work and be faster and more efficient.
So again, in the future of technology too, we’re seeing we want to offer up more cloud-based services. We want to help cloud based services to help with maintenance and offer up solutions and maybe even help manage some of our products for our customers. So we can offer up solutions. For example, you know, products at a certain warehouse or certain automation line. We could notify that hey, these couple products are towards end of their life and we could offer up solutions to minimize downtime. So those are things that we were seeing in the future. We want to increase our value proposition to our customers.
Mary Gannon: Thank you Dan. And thank you for listening. For more information, visit www.enidine.com/en-US/Sentinel-1/.