Industrial Sensor Networks

With the emergence of the Internet of Things, more and more sensors with embedded computers are becoming networked. They offer novel, innovative applications that go beyond classical telecommunications and Internet. These sensors are the interface between the physical world and virtual world. Equipped with wireless technologies and signal processing, they are more and more used in industrial environments.

Several Lakeside Labs projects have been working on industrial sensor networks. Contributions include distributed algorithms and protocols for energy-efficient and robust communication, synchronization, resource management, and privacy in industrial sensor networks. Lakeside Labs owns a wireless laboratory with over hundred sensors using different technologies and operating platforms.

A key challenge is that industrial sensor networks must be very reliable in many aspects, including hardware, software, and communication protocols. Mistakes or a failure to deliver a warning can disrupt the production process. Achieving required reliability levels with wireless transmissions is a serious challenge in industrial plants. To address this challenge, Lakeside Labs invented novel communication techniques based on cooperative relay communications to improve the robustness of communications and made a comprehensive performance analysis in a production plant.

Another research activity develops reliable sensor networks for airplanes. “Modern airplanes are equipped with hundreds of sensors and actuators interconnected to the airplane infrastructure. The use of wireless communications in place of wired connections has the potential of great flexibility and cost savings,” Christian Bettstetter explains. A project with Airbus addresses the network architecture and communication protocols for this purpose. The developed solutions were be tested and evaluated in a real airplane cabin.

Our recent work in this area is done in two applied projects with regional partners. In UWB4I, we build on UWB to develop and test a self-powered industrial sensor network for condition monitoring. A number of applications with different requirements for communications and measurement processing are being investigated. We bring three design dimensions together: energy management, networking, and data analysis. The interactions between them are the core of our approach and drive the solutions for the particular applications. Another, very large project is “Dependable, secure and time-aware sensor networks (DESSNET)”. Several use cases for measurement collections have been defined with Treibacher Industrie, focusing on predictive maintenance. The main challenge is to establish a wireless network in an environment full of steel constructions and chemicals. For this purpose, we currently test a Long Range Wide Area Network (LoRaWAN), which combines robustness against small-scale fading with ultra low energy consumption at the expense of limited data rates.

Selected Publications

Medium access with adaptive relay selection in cooperative wireless networks
IEEE Transactions on Mobile Computing, 2014

An experimental study of selective cooperative relaying in industrial wireless sensor networks
IEEE Transactions on Industrial Informatics, 2014

DISTY: Dynamic stochastic time synchronization for wireless sensor networks
IEEE Transactions on Industrial Informatics, 2017

Experimental study of packet loss in a UWB sensor network
ACM Intern. Conf. on Modeling, Analysis and Simulation of Wireless and Mobile Systems, 2017