On a cold Christmas eve, the wind started to howl and children slept in their beds as snow fell to the ground. Then, a jingle of bells and a loud “Ho, ho, ho!” Santa was here for his big Christmas show. When all of a sudden, his sleigh started to tip, presents started to tumble and good old St. Nick, had to crash-land the sleigh in a big holly bush. The sleigh was quite stuck, so he gave it a push.
A couple of presents were crushed from the impact, he knew he had only a few minutes to act. Christmas Eve, as you know, is a tight operation. A small slip like this could cause devastation. Imagine the faces of children who wake, to see no presents under the tree, how their small hearts would break. The number of believers would soon start to wane, Christmas will never be the same again.
With around 400 million stops on his journey and only 32 hours to travel across the 24 different time-zones, the stakes are high for Santa Claus who must deliver presents to every child before Christmas day. Here, Tom Lilly, application engineer at wireless telemetry specialist Mantracourt explores how Santa could prevent accidents like this one by using wireless telemetry sensor transmitters and cloud-based remote monitoring on his sleigh.
The weight of a million mince pies
Santa’s trip isn’t easy. At any one time, his sleigh is carrying presents for up to 526 million children. In fact, according to North American Aerospace Defence Command’s Santa tracking programme (NORAD), Santa’s sleigh holds roughly 60,000 tons of presents from take-off. When the reindeer are steering around a corner or up a steep incline, the sleigh can become unstable. To better understand when this can happen and how to prevent it, the elves can install inclinometer and load sensors onto the sleigh to measure the incline, camber and payload at different angles.
In the weeks leading up to Christmas, the elves would put the sleigh through multiple flight tests so they can monitor and adjust the angle and weight distribution of the sleigh. With a better understanding of this, the elves would make the necessary adjustments, optimising it for the long, arduous journey on Christmas Eve.
By using Mantracourt’s T24 system, Santa’s team would be able to monitor these sensors wirelessly. The T24 comprises of wireless strain gauge sensor transmitters that enable high accuracy wireless measurement of data signals from bridge-based transducers like load cells. After collecting this data, the elves would use Mantracourt’s T24 integrated logging and viewing software to check the sleigh’s centre of gravity. This would determine the weight distribution in the sleigh. If there was an issue with payload mid-journey, the elves can then call Santa down to one of the 30 R&R (Reindeer and Restoration) stops to check the sleigh out before sending Santa back on his journey.
Using machine-to-machine communication, T24 can also connect with SensorSpace, an umbrella platform for remotely monitoring the status of any system equipped with a T24 wireless device. It can be easily set up to automatically send SMS, email and app-based alerts in the event of any unexpected changes in a system’s operational parameters. This could be anything from uneven payloads to atmospheric pressure loss if Santa drives his sleigh too high in the sky.
Christmas software decorating
Using SensorSpace, the elves can visualise and analyse the data they receive from the T24 on the sleigh and predict whether any remedial maintenance should be done. They will also be able to store the data for up to three years, so by the time Christmas comes in 2025, they will have even more data to detect flight irregularities.
The Tinsel Tech team, the technology division of elves, will also enjoy creating their own custom branded portal on SensorSpace. They can include colours like candy-cane red, pine forest green and winter snow. They can also add their own logos and other visual elements to promote even more Christmas Spirit within the workshop.
So let us rewind the bad Christmas tale, Santa swooped from the sky on an icy-cold gale. His presents did jostle but not tumble or fall, the sensors showed he’d keep stable for the rest of the long haul. The elves did cheer as the sleigh stayed on track, remote monitoring had stopped the potential set-back.