A smart plug for commercial chillers and freezers that detects a range of energy parameters and allows the user to remotely assess whether the unit requires maintenance has been launched by SECO. The ‘SECO Energy Sensor’ was developed by German IoT solutions company, Lemonbeat, a fully owned subsidiary of European utility giant E.ON, and a design partner of Nordic Semiconductor.
The smart plug employs a sensor to record energy, voltage, power and current variables, and can be retrofitted to any 230 V-powered device, for example, existing refrigeration equipment in grocery stores and supermarkets. The device uses Nordic’s nRF9160 SiP with integrated LTE-M/NB-IoT modem and GNSS to relay data to a Cloud-based platform using either LTE-M or NB-IoT wireless connectivity, as well as supervise the smart plug’s on-board sensors.
The nRF9160 SiP’s powerful 64 MHz Arm® Cortex®-M33 dedicated application processor provides the capability to manage the proprietary energy pattern detection algorithm, both ensuring the accuracy of the recorded data and enabling the device to only report to the Cloud platform when necessary, reducing the power- and data-cost of frequent transmissions. From the Cloud platform the health of the monitored appliance and the requirement for servicing or maintenance can be derived from the energy consumption patterns. This enables service personnel to only be dispatched when maintenance is required, eliminating unnecessary visits. It also lowers the chance a chiller or freezer’s malfunction will go unnoticed, which can help reduce food spoilage and keep customers safe.
“With a highly granular monitoring of energy parameters like voltage, power and current it is possible to detect patterns that give a good indication about the health status of the chiller or freezer and whether it needs maintenance or not,” says Lemonbeat CEO Oliver van der Mond. “This means SECO is able to schedule a service only when it is actually needed.
“Alternative solutions exist that use Wi-Fi, but the difficulties of installation and operation of these systems can be significant, including unstable connections, access issues, and changing passwords, all of which can increase the total cost of ownership. After several months of operation, we are convinced that using the nRF9160 SiP with its LTE-M or NB-IoT connectivity provides the only genuine, intelligent, plug and play solution.”