Spectrometer as a sensor
Spectrometer as a Sensor
Combining the proven benefits of diode-array spectrometer technology with the assets of an updatefree and low-maintenance hard- and software, a tecSaaS®-based embedded spectrometer fulfills highest requirements in terms of resilience [temperature, moisture, vibration, …] and availability for use in industrial [machinery] or mobile [field] applications.
With complete integration of the data processing functions into the spectrometer unit, process relevant results can be transferred directly to the machine or process control system - the [Windows-] PC is obsolete. For data evaluation, the integrated embedded controller even offers complex algorithms such as chemometrics or FFT and allows to define customized mathematical processing using the integrated formula parser.
Parameterization of software instead of programming and a pool of hardware modules make the implementation of a stand-alone embedded system fast and efficient – significantly shortening the time from the idea up to its productive use.
An embedded spectroscopy system integrates the hardware required for operation of the measurement system with the processing and software capabilities to allow autonomous operation. This approach leads to an instrument which acts as a sensor, delivering its results directly to an industrial or mobile communication interface. Powerful hard- and software is required to define a versatile and easy-to-use platform like tecSaaS® [tec5 Spectrometer as a Sensor].
Users can select from a multitude of configurations supporting a wide variety of applications and technologies, including UV-VIS-NIR sensors or photometers, light sources and measuring accessories.
UV-VIS-NIR spectrometer and photometer systems have been used in process and mobile [field] applications for many years. Optical measurements are fast, non-contact and require little maintenance. The spectral information gives a deep insight into a process or the status of agricultural parameters.
A new generation of smart embedded sensor systems has been introduced recently to make use of even more reliable and stable systems by eliminating the requirement for a PC to acquire, evaluate and process the spectral data. [Philosophy]
A wide variety of applications benefit from an embedded spectrometer unit. As a technology platform, it is not limited to a particular industry or application. It is an attractive option whenever there is the requirement for a reliable, compact UV-VIS-NIR sensor which needs to be integrated into a process or machine network.
Embedded spectroscopy systems have been introduced, e.g. in agriculture, to determine dry matter and additional ingredients on harvesting machines, plant reflection for selective fertilizer output, in an NIR manure sensing system for liquid manure distribution tanks, for soil sensing and in other measurement tasks.
In the coating industry, embedded spectrometer systems monitor the optical properties or the thickness of applied layers during production. Online concentration measurements of etching and plating bath parameters are performed in the galvanic and semiconductor industries to assure optimum product quality.
There are many more projects going on to implement this innovative technology!
In the conception of industry 4.0, sensors in production and quality control applications make their results available in the industrial network. In addition to the general requirements for a system operating in an industrial environment, the huge potential of this networked approach must be accompanied by a suitable security concept to prevent malfunction resulting in possibly severe consequences to production, material or humans. Such failure could be caused by mishandling, manipulation or other threats arising from the permanent connection of the industrial sensor within the fab.
Even though 100% security is not achievable, the tecSaaS® embedded system was designed with an IT security concept to achieve a high level of protection. The embedded concept starts with a closed system based on dedicated hardware and non-standard firmware provides a basis of intrinsic security, because its architectural details are not known to the public. It is thus not possible to simply port malware to the tecSaaS® platform. In addition, a proprietary protocol combined with state-of-the-art technologies like encryption and authentication result in a system with low vulnerability to these kinds of threats.
The closed ecosystem provides a level of protection that does not depend on frequent updates and patches, which may cause excess effort for maintenance or service to prevent failures resulting in financial or personal damage.
Distributed sensors, data processing on-board, fast, reliable and maintenance free – that’s the idea of embedded spectroscopy.
For decades, spectroscopy for industrial applications was inherently linked to PC technology and Windows operating systems, because nearly all generic sensor hardware and software was designed for PC technology, which is driven from products for consumers.
The work on a generic embedded platform for spectroscopy, which is as powerful as PC-based solutions was obvious but this needed significant development. Even interfaces like USB, which was never designed for reliable industrial applications, became state-of-the-art in industrial environments.
Embedded spectroscopy, with its special demands, became realistic because of the recent developments in data processing capabilities, combined with low power consumption and the availability of data processing components for industrial requirements.
To specify such a product idea with all the restrictions, advantages and disadvantages is challenging work and forces you with aspects you never face on a PC and Windows operating system. Security and reliability becomes a strong focus and leads to specialized operating systems and well selected 3rd party modules.
Furthermore, parametrization an application instead of programming it, is a feature customers are used to if they work with Windows based software packages for spectroscopy. That makes the difference between a generic platform with fast time to market, in comparison to a special instrument software, coded for one application with closed algorithms [Parametrization vs. Programming]. But, it means also to protect the customer IP [system setup and algorithms] and make the system save for unwelcome access, competitors or hacking [Security].
Spectrometer as a Sensor – which is the idea of distributed systems with on-board data processing capabilities, doesn’t need an Man-Machine-Interface or sophisticated user interface. Such a system communicates remotely with tools for monitoring and setup and more important with process management systems via standardized communication interfaces [Process Interface]. That an important specification for the selection of the operating system and 3rd party code libraries.