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Oil-leak detection begins with a Dell Edge Gateway for IoT

Dell’s Connect What Matters competition asked entrants to simply design an innovative IoT solution with real business impact. More importantly, depending on your perspective, the competition offers a chance to win one of 16 prizes worth $600,000.

Sorry, but this year’s contest has concluded, so you’ll have to wait for Dell to announce whether there will be another round next year. However, for those that did compete and won, the payout goes way beyond the prize money.

Take PixController, for example. The company, based in Murrysville, Pa., developed an IoT product for the oil and gas industry, specifically to sniff out leaks, regardless of where those leaks occur. The product took home one of the contest’s Silver medals, bringing a $20,000 prize with it, as well as lots of in-house help from Dell.

“Air quality monitoring is something that’s going to be regulated very soon,” according to Bill Powers, CEO of PixController. “This is something that’s been coming down in the oil and gas industry for a couple of years, and now it’ll be required.”

The PixController system will monitor the emissions coming from entire supply chain, from the oil pad all the way down to the production facility, thanks to the use of a Dell Edge Gateway for IoT. Apparently, there are a relatively high number of leaks, and with the coming regulation, the entire supply chain will be required to monitor and fix those leaks. The PixController system will allow the monitoring to occur in real time, regardless of where they occur.

The newly designed, low-cost sensor can be powered by a battery. The system is further enhanced through the use of a thermal optical camera. From the sensor-camera combination, the data is read into the gateway. Then, varying degrees of dispersion modeling are performed within the gateway to determine whether there is really a leak, and if so, exactly where that leak is. The diagnosis is confirmed through triangulation, allowing the operator to hone in on the location, then point a camera directly at the suspected leak site for visual confirmation. And all this happens in real time.

“By using the Dell hardware, we were in a better position to capture the market, which we believe lies somewhere in the $500 million to $1 billion range,” says Powers. “Dell will be instrumental in helping us achieve the goals of deployments.”