In todays era of connectivity and the frequent application of smart objects, amplify design started a case study on the instrumentation of „digitally dead” objects. Inspired by opportunities with utilities and logistic providers we started thinking about the possibilities of a communication network between gas bottles. The focus of this project was not only to consider the technical realization of making the gas bottle a part of the Internet of Things but also to analyze the ecosystem it is embedded in. A gas bottle is one tiny unit in a huge supply chain that is circulating in various industries. Therefore the benefits of making it part of a network are as great for a supplier as for a costumer.
In the first step we considered all the different use cases the bottle is being used in. These range from private customers who need just one bottle of propane for the gas grill to heavy industry producers having to maintain and manage their supply chain. In order to manage production and delivery, data about location and fill level of the gas bottles provide fundamental information for the planing process of a supplier. Therefore the effectivity of delivery routes can be maximized, stock capacities can be optimized and a demand forecast enables the adjustment of gas production. On the other side it eases the effort for a customer to manage his own stock and maintain the supply chain. It brings both parties closer together and simplifies the ordering and delivering process. To achieve an optimized process, the bottles do not only need communication abilities but there also has to be an infrastructure for the data transmission and processing.
By developing a Bluetooth LE transmitter for a gas bottle amplify design build the smallest yet most crucial element for this information infrastructure. Technologies so far in the market didn’t allow for cost and time effective upgrade possibilities. The available solutions involved a mechanical modification of the bottle and therefore imply an extensive effort considering the large quantity of bottles involved. In the development process amplify acquired a relation between natural frequency and fill grade. This approach enables the BLE device to read out the fill level of the bottle by only inducing acoustics, no modification of the bottle itself is needed. Equipped with one of amplifies sensors, present information about location and fill level can easily be sent to the cloud infrastructure.