New Remote Monitoring Unit is a Global Game-Changer

FIGURE 1 Photo of the SUNBIRD RMU. Photo courtesy of Abriox.

Abriox, a global market leader in remote cathodic protection (CP) monitoring systems for utility pipelines, launched SUNBIRD, a 100% solar-powered compact cathodic protection remote monitoring unit (RMU) at the CORROSION 2021 Conference & Expo in April (Figure 1). It is being touted as a world-first and a global game-changer.

“SUNBIRD was developed—as all Abriox innovations are—with our customers’ needs and priorities as the catalyst for new product development,” says Abriox CEO Sean Daniels.

The goals in the creation of this new product were to revolutionize the remote monitoring industry in the U.S.; to address all existing shortcomings; and to create a new standard of RMU that delivers better quality data, more often and at a lower cost than ever before.

“The catalyst for SUNBIRD came from the advent of a number of significant new communications technologies in 2020. In particular, advances in low power communications opened up possibilities to revolutionize remote monitoring for the oil and gas industries,” says Abriox Managing Director Jason Hanlon. 

“Abriox is a high-tech company, so the team is always looking at the latest innovations to see how we can exploit them for the benefit of our customers," Hanlon adds. "We realized that we could bring something completely revolutionary to our market by building upon these advanced new low-power communication technologies. That was the inspiration, and once we looked into the possible new communications available, we recognized they would create a step-change in remote monitoring. This allowed us to start the development of SUNBIRD.”

Revolutionary Communication

SUNBIRD is a “global game-changer” because it uses a revolutionary type of communication that allows it to be on nearly all the time, rather than off nearly all the time. It enables more data to be sent more frequently, plus it doesn’t require environmentally unfriendly replaceable batteries for operation. The communications it uses should have a far longer lifespan than the historical generations of cellular communications that are used by all other RMU manufacturers.

“The feedback we received from customers during extensive field trials was quite simply, that SUNBIRD is a game-changer. Pipeline engineers see it as the sustainable solution for cathodic protection monitoring they have been waiting for,” Hanlon notes.

Created by Abriox’s in-house design team, a group of expert electronic and software engineers with decades of experience conceptualizing and developing robust, reliable remote monitoring products, SUNBIRD’s sealed, weatherproof unit is easy to install and is designed to fit on all leading standard CP riser posts via a one-step, slot-on installation (Figure 2). No cell phones, laptops, or other tools are required, which is unique to the industry. Harvesting energy from the sun and incorporating the latest 5G IoT communication technology allows for the fastest, most reliable collection of key information. And solar powered means no batteries are required—ever. Plus, it includes up to 30 zero-sun days as a backup.

FIGURE 2 Photo of SUNBIRD with Texas-based Technical Sales Engineer Jonathan “JD” Galindo. Photo courtesy of Abriox.“Unlike traditional battery-powered monitors that upload weekly, SUNBIRD’s data is uploaded every hour. SUNBIRD has GPS for precise positioning and timing, and is capable of incredibly fast one-second logging,” explains Daniels. Because of its renewable energy source, it is unlike any other remote device available anywhere.

Utilizing 5G IoT delivers a communication life beyond 2030. Additionally, 5G IoT communications provides greater geographical coverage than existing 3G and 4G networks, meaning the unit will work in more locations than was previously possible with cellular communication.

“Previous generation remote monitors were built on technology that was not designed for purpose, but were instead designed for cell phones, text messaging and web browsing, but 5G communications technology offered solutions for the use cases we already support,” says Hanlon.

‘Plug and Play’

SUNBIRD also has built-in GPS to guarantee the data is coming from the intended pipeline location. “SUNBIRD is ‘plug and play’—it slots onto standard test posts and automatically installs itself—no laptops or cell phones are needed. An icon on a map appears on Abriox’s iCPSM4 cloud-based monitoring software and data uploads will commence immediately. It can be deployed anywhere on any cathodically-protected asset at any CP test post, and it should be fitted at all low and mid points on the pipeline and any other areas where AC monitoring and bond monitoring is required,” Daniels explains.

SUNBIRD can be deployed anywhere on the pipeline network where it is important to record ON/OFF pipe-to-soil potentials, native coupon potentials and coupon current monitoring channels, and measurements of interfering AC currents. The DC and AC monitoring ensures full corrosion prevention.

“SUNBIRD monitors both AC and DC, so it is ideal for monitoring areas with AC problems or where AC mitigation needs to be verified,” Daniels says. SUNBIRD’s plug and play installation allows all measurements to be taken automatically and the data seamlessly sent in every hour to iCPSM4. Alternatively, it may simply be that certain measurement points on the pipeline create risks to CP technicians, such as at busy road or rail crossings, or are difficult to access, such as on private land. At these locations remote monitoring is extremely cost-efficient and can improve safety.

In addition to the features already mentioned, SUNBIRD also allows for a wide operational temperature for all extremes. Its highly robust design includes NEMA 6 ingress protection, guaranteed lightning defense, and an unrivalled warranty.

Although the development team encountered challenges in the creation of SUNBIRD, the end product was a success. “Hundreds of technical hurdles had to be overcome, from the integrated antennas to the communications, to the enclosure—and especially power consumption. Every single aspect of SUNBIRD had challenges and needed to be highly optimized to make the product work,” says Daniels. 

Furthermore, Abriox has plans in place to expand upon the already successful SUNBIRD in the future. “We are developing a number of related companion products and accessories that utilize the new technology SUNBIRD is built on to provide a complete, cost effective solution for IoT CP monitoring,” Hanlon says.

Company Background

Abriox describes itself as a dynamic high-technology company, and it specializes in remote monitoring for pipelines. Their core expertise is the development of remote monitoring systems for oil, gas, and petrochemical companies. Abriox helps its customers improve the efficiency of their fuel distribution networks by providing demonstrable asset management, safety, economic, environmental, and compliance benefits.

“Abriox as a company started with the aim of addressing a huge global problem with unreliable and inadequate cathodic protection monitoring products. When we began to attract interest from U.S. companies, we optimized our products for the U.S. market, adding in satellite communications and other specialized requirements. All the products we sell in the USA are specifically designed for use in the USA,” says Hanlon.

Abriox’s global headquarters are in the United Kingdom, and they have several U.S. offices (including Ohio and Texas) to provide full-service sales, administrative, and training support to their North American customers. “We’ve been providing CP solutions in the USA for over a decade,” Daniels notes.

Not only have their products won multiple awards for innovation and excellence, but they also help their customers by providing demonstrable efficiencies in asset management, safety, compliance, and environmental impacts—and bottom-line benefits. “We believe Abriox offers the world’s most advanced, cost-effective, completely wireless remote monitoring systems for pipeline protection in the oil, gas and petrochemical industries,” says Daniels.

Aiming to always exceed customer expectations with exceptional levels of quality, service, technical support, and value, Abriox continuously seeks to proactively meet customers’ changing needs to provide the best, easy-to-use, highly cost effective, real-time data acquisition, and analysis solutions.

SUNBIRD is available for pre-order now for delivery later this year. “Abriox was excited to be able to launch SUNBIRD at CORROSION 2021, which was a fantastic virtual event, especially considering the unprecedented global environment we all found ourselves in due to Covid-19. I’d like to thank all our customers who helped with SUNBIRD’s field trials—SUNBIRD really is a product that was built with customers’ needs in mind with direct input from those customers,” concludes Daniels.

Source: Abriox,

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