Reliable Industrial Networking in Harsh Environments
Most airline passengers have experienced a delay while their plane waits to be de-iced on the runway. Most drivers in the northern hemisphere have been delayed by snowplows on the road. But once travelers get to their car in the parking lot, they expect the path to be clear. Trecan Combustion, based in Nova Scotia Canada, builds and maintains the industrial snowmelters that keep airports, parking lots, and commercial roadways free from snow. They are the world’s largest manufacturer of snowmelters, with over 800 units in operation across North America, Europe, and Asia. The process of melting snow may seem fairly simple, but maintaining a fleet of industrial snowmelters operating in a busy airport or commercial environment can quickly become a complicated task.
Concerns about reliability and thermal efficiency are paramount. In addition, many urban municipalities have enacted regulations that govern the ability to dump snow in local bodies of water due to environmental concerns. In order to keep snowmelters operating in harsh conditions, Trecan uses a 4G LTE connection from Advantech Czech s.r.o. Each snowmelter has Programmable Logic Controller (PLC) and Human Machine Interface (HMI) devices to give local operators information about the equipment. Each of these computers is also connected to a SmartFlex LTE router. This remote connection allows Trecan and its customer to monitor engine run time, fuel level, GPS coordinates and other SCADA information to predict maintenance issues. For example, imagine being able to combine the weather forecast with the GPS coordinates and fuel level of snowmelters to send customers a message telling them to fuel up because a snow storm is coming!