Automation and the internet of things is quickly moving from a magical sci-fi concept to an everyday reality. We are living in a unique time where a wide range of sensors and actuators are available ranging from low cost to robust industrial grade components. The components are just waiting for some careful planning and programmed logic to be transformed into efficient and reliable solutions. The video below provides a Dr. Dave style general introduction to automated systems. Steps for designing a custom automated system are also provided below with examples.
Identify “big picture” project goals. Determine functional requirements and restrictions.
E.g., Client needs a system to monitor temperature of coolers and notify operator if the temperature is outside of an acceptable range.
Prepare a solution that meets project goals.
E.g., Connect temperature sensor to wireless network and develop program that texts operator when temperature is outside 0-32 F.
Control System Design
Select sensors/actuators and create input/output map. Identify controller hardware speed and storage requirements. Identify if internet access is required.
E.g., Use a type K thermocouple with wireless access and design online web portal that includes logic and texting ability.
Order and assemble physical components.
E.g., Wire thermocouple and install in cooler.
Control Program Development
Design software with scalable architecture. Provide any necessary safety precautions or permissions in software.
E.g., Program that allows easy addition of wireless thermocouples or operator phone numbers where select coolers notify select operator.
User Interface Development
Provide easy to use and functionally sound interface.
E.g., Password protected panel with federated identities to view cooler temperatures that walks user through steps to update alarm settings.