BLE Eavesdrops on Machine Health With Augury System

The IoT startup has developed a Bluetooth Low Energy-based solution for sensors that detect the health of HVAC and other equipment, and transmit that data to a server for analysis of the machines' health status.
By Claire Swedberg
Feb 14, 2017

When a component in a chiller or compressor starts to fail, the machine may continue to operate, but the reduced efficiency will cost a user in power consumption. Managing the health of mechanical parts can be a difficult task for buildings and industries, despite being an important way to ensure that machines are operating effectively. So Augury, an Internet of Things technology startup based in the United States and Israel, has developed a predictive-maintenance solution that several dozen U.S. companies are currently using to collect sensor data about machines via Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) technology.

Augury has offered a handheld system since 2015, while some customers are now piloting a fixed BLE solution that it expects to release during the second quarter of this year. That fixed system consists of BLE beacons that capture data from Augury sensor units attached to high-value or critical machinery. In both the handheld and BLE-enabled cases, the Augury solution is intended to measure the health status of equipment, provide analysis and make maintenance recommendations for machine users.

The Augury sensor device
Augury was launched approximately five years ago to design a system that would help those with heating, ventilation and air-conditioning (HVAC) systems, or other mechanical equipment, more easily manage the health of their machines, according to Saar Yoskovitz, the company's CEO and co-founder.

For both the handheld and fixed BLE sensor solutions, the technology consists of ultrasonic and vibration sensors, as well as Augury's cloud-based server on which its predictive-maintenance software platform captures and interprets the data, thereby providing analytics to users regarding their equipment's health.

The initial version of the system consists of a handheld device, known as an Auguscope, with built-in ultrasonic and vibration sensors. It comes with a USB connection, as well as a magnet to connect it to a machine. When maintaining equipment, operators simply use the magnet to attach the device to that equipment, and the sensor device captures the sensor-based data. With the USB connection, it can connect to a phone or tablet in order to process the information and send it back to the server.

The new version uses BLE technology, the company reports, and provides more automated data collection. The system employs an Augury sensor unit; up to four sensors are attached to different parts of a chiller, compressor or fan. Every half hour, the sensor unit awakens, collects sensor data and then transmits that information via BLE. Augury gateway nodes are installed around a facility in which the technology is being used. Those nodes capture the BLE-based sensor data from each unit, and then use a cellular or Wi-Fi connection to transmit the latest data to the server. The gateways also come with a built-in security feature in the form of an IC that encrypts the information before it is forwarded to the server.

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