What is Sensor Fusion?

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sensor fusion

In Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) connected devices, sensors are responsible for collecting data from various functions of the machine. As most connected devices have multiple sensors, it is crucial that the data being collected is conveyed to users in the most “context-driven" way possible. This is where data aggregation or “sensor fusion” comes into play.

Sensor fusion is the collection and combination of sensory data, collected from multiple sensors, to deliver a more accurate, and reliable output of information than looking at the sources individually. A simple example used to explain sensor fusion is “taste”. As your brain combines input from multiple sensors like your taste buds (flavor), nose (smell) and mouth (feel), it collectively interprets the data it receives to give an accurate representation of what it is you’re eating (and whether or not you like it). Industrial devices that are connected to the IIoT have the capability to do the same thing.

Why is Sensor Fusion Important?

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In IIoT devices, sensor fusion works not only to provide a more comprehensive real-time collection of data, but through the analysis of this information, unexpected maintenance and unplanned downtime may be reduced or avoided. This is achieved by putting the collected data into context. For example, IIoT connected gear boxes have sensors that monitor oil quality, temperature, vibration level and gear speed. Worrying about a rise in product temperature, without taking into account a similar ambient temperature rise, could be a waste of time. But studying gear box’s vibration and speed sensor data together might indicate that a particular gear was knocked out of alignment during shipping or installation. A potential problem like this might be far less obvious if one reviewed either vibration or speed information independently, allowing the situation to become worse, and leading to costly maintenance down the road. Simultaneously analyzing multiple elements through real-time sensor fusion and being able to interpret the sometimes subtle early-warning messages provided, can paint a more complete operational picture. An asset management system can look at complex trends that can help cut operation costs by predicting potential maintenance needs down the line with enough time to avert failure.  

Sensor fusion is just one of the many benefits of integrating IIoT into your industrial application. In addition to increasing your return on assets and operational performance, IIoT also allows you to better understand your inventory; safely store your collected data in the cloud; and optimize your scheduled maintenance to ensure the long-term health of your operations. IoT sensors are the tip of the iceberg for a connected future. Want to continue the conversation? Use #SolvingSmarter on Twitter to tell us what you want from the future of IIoT.

For more information on Rexnord IIoT Solutions, visit our DiRXN platform page.

Mike Foley

Mike is helping lead Rexnord's charge into a connected future as the Director of Digital Solutions. He has worked in Industrial Manufacturing for almost 30 years, spending time with Rockwell Automation, Eaton, Schneider Electric and Laird before joining Rexnord. As a leader in connected technology, Mike is working to bring our DiRXN platform to life through our IoT connected products and services.