iBot works with the client to create a comprehensive requirements document through a discovery process.1
A Solar Inverter is the gateway to solar power and the brain of a solar installation. A connected inverter is smarter inverter.
The customer is a leader in the inverter industry, with market domination in home inverter segment. The company entered the fledgling solar industry with a new inverter, and was seeking to differentiate itself from several other offerings that are present in the market today.
An investment into a rooftop solar plant is made with the intent of generating a Return on Investment. And hence, the customer needs to know the quantum of power generated so far, being generated now, and likely to be generated tomorrow. Further, customers expect any performance deterioration to be addressed proactively so as to maintain the performance of the solar installation at optimal levels.
The customer conceptualized a “Connected Solar Inverter” which will continuously track performance of the installation, and upload it to the cloud – the information can then be consumed by the end-customer as well as the inverter manufacturer.
The customer, once its objective to develop the connected inverter was defined, quickly zeroed in on iBot’s IOT platform, and decided to implement the solution on an accelerated basis.
MACHINE INTERFACE DEVELOPMENT
The heart of the connected machine is the revolutionary iQu tech, which was retro-fitted into this machine.2
The machine interface development for the solar inverter has been the fastest ever undertaken by iBot so far. It is also a shining example of how close collaboration between teams driven by an objective to succeed can lead to superior successes.
iBot and the customer agreed upon a date of demonstration of a connected inverter within 1 week. Once the date was finalized, an engineer flew down from New Delhi to Hyderabad along with the inverter controller, interface protocols, and other inputs necessary for establishing integration between the inverter and iQu Connected Processor. The teams worked aggressively for 3 days, and developed a hardware integration of the two products, so the inverter data was being received on the iQu Connected Processor.
The hardware designs were subsequently refined, and an outcome of this engineering effort is the Base Board which integrates with iQu E10. Together, the Base Board and iQu E10 connect to the controller of the solar inverter, and transmit data to iBot Hive.
IBOT's software engineers and designers create efficient and beautiful interfaces for the machine, user, and machine manufactures to talk to each other, securely.3
iBot engineers programmed the iQu E10 to interface and communicate with the inverter controller. This was accomplished by defining a protocol to be followed by the two systems, and the behaviour is in request-response model. iQu E10 sends a request to the inverter controller, and the inverter controller responds with data to iQu. The data received from the inverter is then prepared as a string of values, encrypted by iQu E10’s microprocessor, and stored on the local storage until connectivity is established and this data is transmitted to the cloud on a secure channel.
Some key parameters which are captured from the inverter and transmitted to cloud are:
- Key Machine Identifiers (Machine ID, Model)
- Charging and Discharging Currents
- PV Voltage and Current
- Mains and Output Voltages
- Battery Type, Battery Status Indication, Present Battery Ah
- Load Status
- Over and Under Voltage Flags
- Inverter and Ambient Temperatures
MOBILE AND WEB DEVELOPMENT4
Mobile and Web
The consumer (owner of the solar infrastructure) is the target for the mobile app. He would like to know the quantum of power generated, and health of the installation. iBot’s customer designed a mobile app which provides this information.
The mobile app enables the customer to choose his inverter installation, and then view the operating status of the solar panels.
A technician app is also developed, and this app displays lot more technical details of the solar infrastructure so as to enable the technician to diagnose any issue, and plan action for resolution even before he leaves his office for the service call.
A web app, which displays a dashboard of all inverters operating at a time, and their status is developed for the consumption of operations personnel. This dashboard displays detailed information of all inverters operating, and highlights any actions required. It even integrates with service management system and creates a ticket so that the action required can be tracked to resolution.
TESTING & GO LIVE5
iQu powers Smart Inverter
in 7 days!
iQu Connected Processor-enabled inverter has undergone rigorous testing, starting with unit testing of all components, and culminating into the full-scale integration testing with several installations live across the country. Consumer feedback is being collected, and refinements to the solution will follow in subsequent releases of the product.
A joint case study on this deployment was published by Microsoft: Microsoft & iBot Power New Internet of Things (IOT) Enabled Smart Solar Inverter from Luminous
Key Outcomes of Connecting The Inverter
- Become a keystone in the ecosystem comprising battery, inverters and UPS manufacturers
- Provide new value to customers in the form of information on RoI of their investments
- Scale customer satisfaction by improving product availability
- Enable new products with Internet of Things technologies, and drive excitement in market
- Customer satisfaction improves when they get visibility into the RoI on their investments
- Stay connected with customer through the mobile app (up-sell and cross-sell)
- Visibility into the operations of every product in real-time, and alerts based on business rules
- Plan service operations across regions backed by information (product distribution, performance)
- Plan service delivery (site visit) based on concrete information about product (spares, tools, skills)