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Remote Motor Monitoring - Where is the industry?

Remote monitoring for pump control panels is massively in demand but no one has mastered it yet. Surely it can't be that hard! You can get a smart toothbrush for £50 now, so why on earth is it so difficult to get real time data on a pump worth £000s?

There are three challenges to overcome:

  1. Cost

  2. Billing model

  3. Reliability


The truth is that there are companies out there that have nailed this, with fantastic real time data that follows a pump's every move. It's just that these cost thousands of pounds - fine if it's a key pump on an oil rig, not so fine for the pump station in Mr Smith's front garden. Mostly the price point for remote monitoring is considerably less than £500.

Billing model

At a recent conference by Schneider Electric they presented the big challenge with connected equipment as being the billing model. Companies like us, who make the control panels and are best placed to provide the monitoring software, usually sell to pump suppliers/installers/manufacturers/etc. Our customers aren't set up for having ongoing monthly software billing that we charge to them and they charge to their customer, and equally they don't really want their customer needing to set up billing with their suppliers. So either there needs to be a simple way of arranging the monthly charge, or better still have no ongoing charge at all.


Microprocessors like Raspberry Pi or Arduino can do all of the monitoring tasks very simply at a very low cost. Most people can buy one for about £50 and with a bit of googling get it set up. The trouble is that these devices aren't designed for rugged use, in control panels which can be hot, cold, dusty, etc, so they're liable to stop working from time to time. And for a monitoring system to be any use it has to work 99.99% of the time.

So how is the industry fixing this?

The first type is basic but reliable industrial remotely connected hardware. The CONTA-CLIP GSM-PRO2E is an example of this, it's very reliable but it's expensive and limited. One big advantage is that there's no ongoing monthly charge (for now).

Next, most pump manufacturers have developed their own including Xylem, Grundfos, DAB Pumps and others. Usually these only work with their own equipment, or need you to buy their system with the hardware already installed.  And these systems aren't coming cheap.

But now there's some new systems coming on to the market which are much more advanced and still reliable. The Contrive by Avior is a more advanced version of the CONTA-CLIP, it's essentially a DIN rail mounted very simple PLC with multiple connection methods (wifi, 4G, etc). You need a bit of programming knowledge to make it work but it's a versatile product.

We've worked with a bit of each of these but none of them tick all the boxes yet. This is what the market needs:

  • Cheap (less than £500)

  • Reliable (no buggy user interfaces)

  • Multiple connection types (at least Wifi, 4G and hard wired)

  • Remote alerts (text or email)

  • Remote access (connect to it to see what's happening in real time)

  • Good user interface (easy to set up the device when it's first installed and a straightforward dashboard)

  • No ongoing monthly charges

When somebody gets that right it will be a no-brainer to include on pump installations, and it should easily translate to other markets too. Anything with a motor (fans, conveyor belts, etc)...maybe any industrial equipment at all?


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