"The advance warning from NILM enabled Spencer to procure and replace these heaters during our in-port maintenance period, and deploy with a fully mission-capable jacket water system. Furthermore, NILM detected a serious shock hazard and may have prevented a class Charlie [electrical] fire in our engine room," said Lt. Col. Nicholas Galanti, engineer officer on the cutter.
The system is designed to be easy to use with little training. The computer dashboard features dials for each device being monitored, with needles that will stay in the green zone when things are normal, but swing into the yellow or red zone when a problem is spotted.
Detecting anomalies before they become serious hazards is the dashboard's primary task, but Leeb points out that it can also perform other useful functions. By constantly monitoring which devices are being used at what times, it could enable energy audits to find devices that were turned on unnecessarily when nobody was using them, or spot less-efficient motors that are drawing more current than their similar counterparts. It could also help ensure that proper maintenance and inspection procedures are being followed, by showing whether or not a device has been activated as scheduled for a given test.
The condition-based monitoring is crucial for mission-critical systems, says Leeb. In addition to the Coast Guard and the Navy, he says, that includes companies such as oil producers or chemical manufacturers, who need to monitor factories and field sites that include flammable and hazardous materials and thus require wide safety margins in their operation.
One important characteristic of the system that is attractive for both military and industrial applications, Leeb says, is that all of its computation and analysis can be done locally, within the system itself, and does not require an internet connection at all, so the system can be physically and electronically isolated and thus highly resistant to any outside tampering