Building a Better Woodshop with Soracom

Woordworking, IoT in Woodshop, Photo by Adobe Stock

With such widespread use cases across nearly all industries, the Internet of Things is rapidly expanding. According to this study, 79% of organizations are planning to invest significant amounts of money into at least one IoT project in the coming years. Companies see value in adding simple, automated monitoring capabilities throughout their production lines so they can stay informed on the status of their equipment, or the current environmental variables within their facilities. Within woodworking, both at the hobby and commercial levels, IoT data paired with Soracom services can provide valuable insights into the process.

Humidity Sensors, Wood shop, IoT, Photo by Adobe stock

Monitoring Temperature and Humidity with Soracom Harvest and Lagoon

One important aspect of utilizing wood for any building project is maintaining appropriate temperature and humidity within the woodshop. Wood is a living thing, subject to twisting, cupping, and warping after being milled. Wood needs to be dried to a very low level of moisture in order to be useable without risk of twisting, cracking, or warping. As such, wood purchased through lumber yards is generally kiln-dried to an appropriate level of moisture. Maintaining a low level of humidity and a constant temperature wherever wood is being used or stored is essential to avoid any deformation due to moisture.

Utilizing a simple Arduino MKR NB 1500 outfitted with a temperature and humidity sensor, relevant data can be gathered to determine environmental conditions within the woodshop. This data can easily be reviewed through the Arduino GUI, but what value does it provide? A user would have to sit and view the data as it came through to watch for any changes.

Connecting the Arduino to a Soracom SIM card allows users to push data to Soracom Harvest and then visualize the trends within Soracom Lagoon. Lagoon also enables users to create alerts that can notify them via email, Slack, Telegram, Discord, Microsoft Teams, standard HTTP POST webhooks, and many other services. This keeps users up to date on any fluctuations in their data points, even when they are not in the workshop.

Here is a sample Lagoon dashboard that displays humidity and temperature readings over a period of 5 ½ hours. Based on these results, we can see that the temperature remained consistent but the humidity gradually increased. Necessary action should be taken to reduce the humidity back to a more uniform level, such as setting up a dehumidifier in the shop. 

Monitoring Air Quality 

While the health of the wood is important, even more so is the health of the people working in the shop. Dust from cutting, sanding, or otherwise working with wood is extremely hazardous when inhaled, with many studies showing that prolonged exposure can be carcinogenic. Though personal protective equipment (PPE) is a common sight in the woodshop, most also have some level of air filtration to help mitigate any small particles that may be present within the air. These systems rely on disposable air filters to capture dust particles, filters that need to be regularly replaced when they are full. This requires someone to inspect and replace them manually. 

Equipping another single-board computer, such as a Raspberry Pi, with an air quality sensor can help monitor the level of particulates in the area, and utilizing the same Soracom services can provide a clear visualization of the air quality. If the level of particulates starts rising, an alert created within Lagoon can notify the user that the filter needs to be changed or of any potential malfunctions within the filtration system, ensuring that the air quality is as safe as possible. 

Wood working, PPE, Soracom

IoT Sensors can help provide valuable information within the woodshop environment to help maintain personal safety, yield more consistent end results, and prolong the viability of expensive materials. Depending on where the woodshop is located, there may not be a readily accessible WiFi connection, making cellular IoT both a reliable and viable option for connectivity.


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