Shahriar Rokhsaz, President & CEO
In a manufacturing environment, it can be frustrating to get the production line set up with all the right materials only to have the equipment conk out. Equipment failure or any damage mid-operation stalls the entire production process and weighs heavily on operational efficiency. Amidst an endless array of plant machinery such as motors, pumps, and other mechanical elements, it is crucial to monitor the operating temperatures and identify out-of-range situations that need immediate attention. Texas-based Axzon’s small battery-free sensors transmit temperature data wirelessly and trigger alerts to detect equipment failures ahead of time.
“Axzon’s technology is the strongest when protecting people and equipment,” says Shahriar Rokhsaz, CEO and president of Axzon. Alternative IoT sensors, both wired and connected to AC line voltage, or battery-powered, cost comparatively higher than Axzon’s low-cost sensors. With an adhesive backing that can stick to any metal surface of the equipment, these are truly set-and-forget devices and which once installed, require no further maintenance.
The core of what Axzon does is provide business insights to their end customers, for which their former name RFMicron (radio frequency microelectronics) seemed too limiting. “We transitioned from just a silicon supplier to a broader deployer of data insights, with our new Axzon trade name,” says Rokhsaz.
Axzon’s sensors are built using Smart Passive Sensing™ technology and use an industrial wireless protocol for communicating. This wireless protocol is fundamental to the energy harvesting arrangement that powers the sensors from the accompanying RF reader. A typical sensor executes commands from the RF reader and sends back temperature data wirelessly.
Software on the RF reader or a server processes the raw sensor data into trusted data that drives meaningful business insights. The software falls into two primary groupings: the sensor-related RfmApi, which handles communication with the reader; and ReaderService, which provides database functionality, and a REST interface for easy connection with other microservices.
The sensors benefit diverse industry segments including automotive, electric utilities, data centers, cold chain, and more. For instance in the automobile segment, Axzon’s sensors are placed directly on the car’s metal chassis for moisture detection in inaccessible areas. After vehicle assembly the cars are sent through a high-pressure carwash, wherein Axzon’s sensors detect leaks or assembly defects in the vehicle. The sensors, each having a unique identifier, relay the defect location to the automaker. Analysis of the sensor data feeds root-cause analysis that helps determine if the leak resulted from a material problem, training issue or something else.
Among a clientele of several industry bigwigs, a leading social networking service company employs Axzon’s sensors in their datacenters to monitor electric power distribution switchgear and busbars. Over time the bolts used to connect these critical electrical connections will loosen and the situation becomes quite dangerous if the bolts loosen enough for there to be arcing. Plasma arcs reach 30,000 degrees centigrade, which is more than hot enough to melt the copper busbars. The energy is high enough that the process is closer to a detonation rather than simply melting. Since Axzon’s sensors provide the sensor values as well as temperature and location, maintenance crews can de-energize the box and tighten up bolts before catastrophic failures occur.
Axzon has announced a sensor line that will allow companies to add external sensing elements, a significant area of new functionality. They expect to add gas detection, pH sensing and other capabilities that are critical for shipping industries and medical monitoring.
As an organization, Axzon strongly believes that most raw sensor data should be processed at the edge. Edge processing is essential when alarms and alerts are needed for protecting people and equipment. Edge processing also prevents customers from overspending on communication bandwidth and cloud processing. “We convert raw sensor data into meaningful insights at the edge and then push trusted data to the cloud when appropriate to support deeper analytics or historical perspectives,” states Rokhsaz.