Fail-safe ‘drop-in’ industrial IoT module can bring high-reliability IIoT applications to market in just 3-6 months


Based on Nordic Semiconductor’s nRF9160 multimode LTE-M/NB-IoT SiP, Design Blocks from Canada-based global wireless design specialists, Swift Labs, has done all the “heavy hardware design lifting” and targets sensitive IIoT environments and materials that cannot fail. Prime examples include oil and gas refineries and pipelines, energy and utilities, chemical plants, medical devices, wearables, transportation, smart city, and defense  

Nordic Semiconductor today announces that Canadian wireless hardware design specialists, Swift Labs, have put the Nordic nRF9160 System-in-Package (SiP) at the heart of their highly-reliable ‘C1D1’, an “intrinsically-safe” industrial IoT (IIoT) module that can bring even the most sensitive and highly-regulated IIoT environment and material applications to market in just 3 to 6 months.

Swift Labs defines such IIoT applications as ones “where components have to perform 100 percent reliably; require long battery life; and in the event of failure scenario such as being crushed, fail safely so as not create a fire, overheating, or sparking risk, particularly in explosive and flammable environments”.

“This really ‘ups’ the design complexity,” comments Swift Labs’ Senior Director of Solutions Architecture, Mike Brown. “There’s no room for error in any single aspect of the design from the fail-safe components on the  PCB [printed circuit board] to trace width sizing, to the unique anti-ESD [electrostatic discharge] enclosure which are all designed with the utmost scrutiny in terms of operational reliability and fail-safe predictability.”

The Swift Labs ‘Design Blocks’ PCB measures just 55 x 36 x 4.9mm in size, includes GPS and LTE antennas, plus an extended list of customizable sensing options including 9-axis absolute orientation, air pressure and humidity, time-of-flight, and air quality. Utilizing the on-board capabilities of the Nordic Semiconductor nRF9160 SiP, the Design Blocks platform also offers an accelerometer and temperature sensor as standard, multimode LTE-M/NB-IoT capabilities, GPS, and a powerful Arm® Cortex™-M33 application processor.
In the industrial IoT sector the ability to automate what was once laborious, costly, and time-consuming in safety-critical operations is now technologically and commercially-viable for the first time
Paul Wilson, Swift Labs 

All an IIoT customer needs to do to incorporate the module into an application is define the use case and Swift Labs will rapidly productize a custom solution fit for the global market and adhering to C1D1 system design principles.

“It’s worth noting that LTE-M and NB-IoT networks have been rolling out globally on a massive scale over the past 12-18 months,” says Swift Labs CEO, Paul Wilson. “And in North America alone we’re already looking at near 100 percent coverage and support from every major network operator.”

Wilson adds: “That means the ‘time’ for cellular IoT has arrived and in the industrial IoT sector the ability to automate what was once laborious, costly, and time-consuming in safety-critical operations is now technologically and commercially-viable for the first time.

“This runs from valve status in an oil and gas pipeline [“on”, “off”, “faulty”] to making sure vital medications are 100 percent tracked, traced, and stored at the correct temperature during transportation.”

“Industrial IoT looks set to become one of the biggest early adopters of cellular IoT wireless technology,” comments Geir Langeland, Nordic Semiconductor's Director of Sales & Marketing. “The main reason is that the operational optimization benefits far outweigh the initial set-up and installation costs. Because of the safety-critical nature of many IIoT applications, the decades-proven reliability and security of cellular wireless network technology, and global pre-installed coverage, makes it a compelling choice.”

Swift Labs are experts in all aspects of wireless product development, testing and verification, firmware and mechanical design, and system integration. It has a proven track-record in IIoT applications and has been instrumental in the development of, for example, explosion-proof Bluetooth and NFC asset trackers, automotive-grade industrial access control keypads, road intersection monitoring solutions, and satellite Wi-Fi hot spot hubs. Swift Labs also has a dedicated testing and compliance team ready to support products entering all major regulatory, industry, carrier, reliability, and safety certifications.