Nikola Labs recently launched VERO, a perpetually powered health-monitoring system for different types of equipment. An Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) solution, VERO is an out-of-the-box system for manufacturers to closely monitor process-critical equipment.
For now, the VERO platform will impact the manufacturing industry mostly, but Nikola leaders envision a future in which its wireless power will be used in other industries also.
“Think of how wireless internet revolutionized internet connectivity. Before, the interface was the ethernet cord. Then, Wi-Fi created mobility,” said Will Zell, CEO and co-founder of Nikola Labs. “The transition from wired to wireless power delivery is going to have a similar effect. Twenty or thirty years from now, wireless power will be part of our everyday lives.”
The proprietary platform uses cells that convert radio-frequency energy into usable direct current. VERO's wireless energy conversion technique was developed and patented at Ohio State University and is licensed exclusively to Nikola Labs.
Perpetually powered wireless sensors save time for facility managers. With VERO, data capture and system maintenance are going to be touch-free, says the company.
“Battery-powered sensors have a life of one to three years. That’s okay if you have one device, but imagine if you have a thousand. You’d have to hire a full-time maintenance person who walks around doing nothing but replacing batteries. That’s a nightmare,” Zell said. “The whole promise of the VERO system is that you can make maintenance more efficient.”
According to Nikola Labs, the VERO system can be customized and retrofitted to production equipment of any size or age. Once the system is installed, plant technicians will have immediate access to the sensors’ data, and that information will be used by an analyst to provide real-world recommendations.
“If I just give you vibration data and you don’t have any context, it’s like handing a patient an EKG report and expecting them to figure out what’s going on with their heart,” Zell explained. “VERO analysts are going to be aware of problems and will proactively recommend action.”
The VERO platform allows a manufacturer to shift from a time-based maintenance schedule to a condition-based maintenance schedule. The company claims that customers have found VERO to be more helpful than previous maintenance diagnosis methods.
“No one wants to be walking around taking vibration readings,” Zell said. “Even if they do, those infrequent readings will never generate enough data for maintenance managers to implement a condition-based maintenance schedule.”
VERO is subscription-based and includes a free trial period. Custom design of the system, professional installation and lifetime hardware and software upgrades are included.
“The Nikola Labs team will continually develop upgrades to the software and hardware connected to the VERO platform, and it is important to Nikola that innovations remain cost-free to customers,” said Zell said.