Title:
Pump monitoring system
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A plurality of pump related monitoring devices can communicate wirelessly with displaced user circuits. The user circuits can in turn acquire data via a respective monitoring device associated with a pump, pump control system, pump motor, backup batteries and the like all without limitations. If desired, the user circuits can carry out a polling process relative to a plurality of monitoring devices.



Inventors:
Burza, Joseph K. (Lockport, IL, US)
Application Number:
11/199965
Publication Date:
04/13/2006
Filing Date:
08/09/2005
Assignee:
Metropolitan Industries
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
415/118, 417/63, 417/213, 73/168
International Classes:
F04B49/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
ROGERS, DAVID A
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
HUSCH BLACKWELL LLP (CHICAGO, IL, US)
Claims:
1. A pump monitoring system comprising at least one sensor of a pump related condition; control circuitry coupled to the at least one sensor; a wireless transceiver coupled to the control circuits, the control circuits, in response to a received wireless control signal transfer received information from at least one sensor to the transceiver for transmission.

2. A system as in claim 1 which includes a plurality of sensors of different pump related conditions, members of the plurality are coupled to the control circuits.

3. A system as in claim 1 where the control circuits include a programmable processor and control software.

4. A system as in claim 3 where the software responds to the received wireless control signal.

5. A system as in claim 4 where the software responds to a device identifier in the received wireless control signal.

6. A system as in claim 5 where the software compares the received device identifier to a pre-stored value.

7. A system as in claim 6 where, responsive to a match between the received identifier and the stored value, the software carries out a function received in the wireless control signal.

8. A system as in claim 1 where the control circuits sense a pre-established unit address.

9. A system as in claim 8 where the control circuits receive and store a unit address, via the transceiver, when in a first mode.

10. A system as in claim 9 where the control circuits receive a unit address, via the transceiver, and compare same to the pre-stored unit address when in a second mode.

11. A system as in claim 10 where the software, in response to a match, transmits received sensor information via the transceiver.

12. A system as in claim 11 which includes a plurality of sensors of pump related conditions coupled to the control circuits.

13. A system as in claim 12 which includes a displaced base element having a base transceiver that transmits wireless control signals to the transceiver.

14. A system as in claim 13 where at least some of the transmitted wireless control signals each include a unit address.

15. A system as in claim 13 where the base unit includes a multi-mode circuitry with one mode responsive to a received request, assigning and transmitting a unit address.

16. A system comprising: a plurality of pump monitoring units, each of the units including at least one pump-related sensor and a wireless transceiver; a base unit that includes multi-mode control circuits with one mode that assigns unit addresses to respective pump monitoring units and another mode that requests information from addressed monitoring units.

17. A system as in claim 16 where at least some of the monitoring units each include a plurality of pump-related sensors.

18. A system as in claim 16 where the multi-mode control circuits include software for one of retrieving pre-assigned monitoring unit addresses, or, generating pre-assigned monitoring addresses.

19. A system as in claim 16 where at least some of the monitoring units store a respective assigned unit address.

20. A system as in claim 19 where at least some of the monitoring units each include a plurality of pump-related sensors.

21. A system as in claim 20 where at least some of the sensors are selected from a class which include at least pump motor sensors, fluid level sensors, battery condition sensors, power sensors, pressure sensors, and fluid flow sensors.

22. A method comprising: sensing a plurality of conditions relative to at least one pump and associated circuits; generating signals indicative of respective sensed conditions; receiving at least one wireless command signal, and responsive thereto, wirelessly transmitting indicia corresponding to sensed conditions.

23. A method as in claim 22 which includes receiving and storing a designator.

24. A method as in claim 23 which includes comparing a received designator to a stored designator.

25. A system comprising: a motor condition sensor; control software that acquires motor condition information from the sensor, then control software is responsive to a received identifier that matches a previously stored identifier to forward the acquired motor condition information at least in part wirelessly, to a displaced location.

26. A system as in claim 25 which includes a plurality of sensors the members of which provide respective condition information to the software.

27. A system as in claim 26 which includes circuitry that stores the identifier.

28. A system as in claim 27 where the software has a first mode of operation where it receives an identifier and stores same in the circuitry.

29. A system as in claim 28 where the software has a second mode which responds to the received identifier and compares it to the stored identifier.

30. A system as in claim 29 which includes a wireless transceiver.

31. A system as in claim 30 which includes a displaced command unit in wireless communication, via the transceiver, with the software.

32. A system as in claim 31 where the command unit includes command software for communicating with a plurality of displaced transceivers.

33. A system as in claim 31 where the command unit includes circuitry to store, at least in part, information relative to a plurality of motor conditions.

34. A system as in claim 33 where the command unit includes motor condition analysis software which compares received motor condition information to at least one set point.

35. A system as in claim 34 where the command unit includes alarm indicating software responsive to results of analysis software comparisons.

36. A system as in claim 35 where the command unit provides at least one of a visual and/or an audible alarm indicator.

Description:

CROSS REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATION

This application claims the benefit of the filing date of U.S. Provisional Patent Application Ser. No. 60/603,015 filed Aug. 19, 2004 and entitled “Wireless Communication System”.

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The invention pertaining to devices for monitoring the status of pumps and for forwarding status information to a common location. More particularly, the invention pertains to such devices where the forwarding process is implemented, at least in part, wirelessly.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Systems that maintain fluids at predetermined levels or flow rates find application in many different types of commercial or business installations. These include controlling fluid levels in pumps, storage tanks or other types of reservoirs. In cooling or heating systems it can be important to maintain fluids at predetermined rates or pressures.

Many known control systems connect sensor outputs to control elements via cables. Such hard wiring can be, on one hand inexpensive and convenient. However, on the other hand it can be very inconvenient and cost prohibitive.

There is thus a continuing need for control system that can couple sensor outputs to other control circuitry in ways that avoid hard wiring. It would also be desirable to be obtain information at a common location from a variety of different pumps or pump systems.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a block diagram of a system in accordance with the invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

While this invention is susceptible of embodiment in many different forms, there are shown in the drawing and will be described herein in detail specific embodiments thereof with the understanding that the present disclosure is to be considered as an exemplification of the principles of the invention and is not intended to limit the invention to the specific embodiments illustrated.

Embodiments of the invention remotely monitor one or more pump units. Monitoring can be effected wirelessly within a building. Alternately, the wireless communication can be via computer network, such as the Internet to and from a location displaced an arbitrary distance from the location of any of the pump units.

In one aspect of the invention, a monitoring device can be located at each of a group of pump control systems. The monitoring device can include one or more sensors which respond to pump related conditions.

Pump related conditions can include status oriented information such as reminders associated with needed maintenance for the pump backup batteries, operational sensors such as level or fluid velocity sensors, pump current draw and the like all without limitation. Alternately, the sensors can sense failures of utility supplied power, such as in the case of a power failure, inoperative pumps or failures of one or more of the backup batteries.

Sensed information in another aspect of the invention can be collected at the respective monitoring device on a real time basis. A displaced user circuit can request, via the wireless link, updated status, pump condition and maintenance information from a respective monitoring device. In one disclosed embodiment of the invention, monitoring devices can be polled on a regular basis. Alternately, monitoring devices can transmit urgent messages in the absence of a polling request.

Where a user circuit has successfully communicated with each of the available monitoring devices, it can, in a disclosed embodiment, enter an inactive state for a period of time to conserve energy before again seeking updates from the respective monitoring devices.

Where a respective monitoring device is reporting a condition which may need intervention, the user circuit can respond by providing an audible or a visible alarm indicator. Communication failures can also be reported by the user circuit if it is unable to communicate with one or more of the monitoring devices.

In another aspect of the invention, when a monitoring device is to be installed in connection with a pump and pump control system, it can be integrated into a plurality of monitoring devices known to the user circuit. The user circuit can incorporate a learn mode which enables additional monitoring devices to be added to the plurality of monitoring devices known to the user circuit.

When the user circuit has been put into the learn mode it responds to received messages from one or more additional monitoring devices which are requesting inclusion into the plurality of monitoring devices associated with a respective user circuit. In response thereto the user circuit can transmit wirelessly to the respective monitoring device a pre-assigned identifier to be used by the monitoring device to recognize commands directed to it.

Upon successful receipt of the identifier, the monitoring device and the user circuit both retain the assigned identifier for subsequent use in identifying a monitoring device to which a communication is being directed or from which a communication is be received. When the user circuit is switched from the learn mode, into a normal operational mode, it can initiate polling of the members of the plurality of monitoring devices. The plurality of monitoring devices will include all of those additional monitoring devices which have received identifiers from the user circuit.

In yet another aspect of the invention, the monitoring devices can incorporate a programmable processor as well as a plurality of read-write memory locations which might be implemented for example with electrically erasable read-only memory. Such units might also incorporate a wireless RF transceiver and circuitry for interfacing to a plurality of motor related or pump related sensors.

In one aspect of the invention, the transceiver can communicate wirelessly and directly to a common control unit. Alternately, communication can be wireless in part, and via a computer network such as the Internet, to a plurality of displaced locations.

In yet another aspect of the invention, a plurality of message groups can be established at a particular motor or pump monitoring device using an installation computer temporarily coupled thereto. End users can configure the processor and memory of the respective monitoring device to further define and populate the message group subsequently to the initial installation.

Where an actual event then occurs of interest which is sensed by one or more of the associated sensors, the local processor and software can carry out one or more predefined actions. Actions can include establishing a plurality of messages dynamically and in association with real-time data. Messages can be transmitted to one or more designated recipients via the wireless link.

FIG. 1 illustrates a block diagram of a system 10 which embodies the invention. System 10 can be used to monitor various characteristics of a plurality 12 of pumps, pump control systems, motors, backup batteries and the like.

Each of the members of the plurality 12, such as the member 12i, has associated therewith a member, such as a member 14, of a plurality 14 of monitoring devices. The monitoring devices can include one or more sensors which sense conditions associated with the respective pump unit, control system motor, backup batteries or the like such as starting or operational currents, operating temperatures, flow volume or velocity characteristics, associated fluid levels, availability of utility supplied power (as well as whether there has been a power failure) and the like all without limitation.

The member 12i of the plurality 12 can incorporate a pump Pi which is driven by a motor Mi with an associated control system CSi. The member 12i can receive utility supplied electrical energy Uin.

Associated with the system 12i is a respective monitoring device 14i which incorporates a plurality of sensors 20i inclusive of those sensors as would be known to those of skill in the art for purposes of sensing operation of the pump Pi, motor Mi as well as control system CSi and whether or not the utility power Uin is available or has failed. Outputs from the members of the plurality 20i are coupled to control circuitry 22i.

The control circuitry 22i can be implemented, in part, with a programmable processor such as processor 22i-1 and associated control software 22i-2. Various types of storage or memory 22i-3 can be associated with the control circuitry 22i. These can include electrically erasable, programmable, read-only-memory, as well as other types of read-write memory all without limitation.

The control circuitry 22i is coupled to an RF transceiver 26i. The transceiver 26i can via an antenna 26i-1 transmit to or receive information from one or more displaced locations.

The monitoring device 14i can incorporate control software 22i-2 for carrying out a variety data acquisition processes. The control circuitry 22i can acquire data from the pump Pi, motor Mi, control system CSi in real-time as appropriate as would be understood by those of skill in the art. The control circuitry 22i can also store in the storage circuitry 22i-3 a unique unit designator distinguishing the device 14i from the remaining members of the plurality 14.

The system 10 can also incorporate user circuits 30. The user circuits 30 can include a wireless RF transceiver such as a transceiver 32a and antenna 32a-1. Transceiver 32a is coupled to local control circuitry 32b.

The control circuitry 32b can incorporate a programmable processor 32b-1 and associated control software 32b-2. The control circuitry 32b communicates with audible and visible output circuitry 34. Circuitry 34 can include, for example, a loud speaker 34a for audible output including synthesized speech as well as displays or lights 34b for providing visual condition indicating outputs.

The unit 30 via control software 32b-2 can communicate with the members of a plurality 12 either directly via RF transceiver 32a or, via one or more computer networks 40. The networks 40 can incorporate a worldwide computer network such as the Internet.

Control software 32b-2 can carry out, when in a first mode, an assignment of device identifiers to some of the members of a plurality 12. Additional devices can be added to the plurality 12 by placing the circuits 30 into a learn mode. In this mode circuits 30 sense received signals from one or more members of the plurality 12 seeking assignments of device identifiers. Control circuitry 32-b and associated software 32b-2 in response transmit a plurality of unique unit identifiers to each of the outstanding members of the plurality 14 seeking an identifier. Each of the respective members of the plurality 14 stores a received identifier, in storage 22i-3 for example, for subsequent use.

In alternate mode of operation user circuits 30 can carry out a polling process and poll each of the members of the plurality 14. The user circuits can transmit or more commands to each of the polled units, such as device 14i requesting pump, pump system, motor and/or battery information all without limitation. The respective unit 14i can in turn in respond by transmitting the acquired information to the user circuits 30.

Software 32b-2 can analyze received information and determine if one or more alarms should be initiated or generated via speaker 34a or displayed devices 34b.

It will be understood by those of skill in the art that the above described invention is not limited to monitoring devices which incorporate pumps. Other devices which incorporate electric motors, for example, and carry out different types of processes can be monitored by members of a plurality 14′ of monitoring devices similar to the members of the plurality 14 described above. Alternate types of devices which might be monitored include multiple motor powered conveyor systems, printing presses, process control devices and the like all without limitation.

From the foregoing, it will be observed that numerous variations and modifications may be effected without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention. It is to be understood that no limitation with respect to the specific apparatus illustrated herein is intended or should be inferred. It is, of course, intended to cover by the appended claims all such modifications as fall within the scope of the claims.