Certainly, Semtech’s LoRa® devices wireless radio frequency technology (LoRa Technology) is reshaping the world. It is changing the ways industries like manufacturing, healthcare, agriculture, utilities, transportation and logistics function. IT industry body, NASSCOM estimates the global market for IoT in 2020 to be worth US$373 Billion in revenue, of which India accounts for US$10-12 Billion (Ref 2). LoRaWAN® is poised to be part of this success story of Indian Industrial IoT.
LoRaWAN® in India started with focus on Water Metering, Smart Street Lights, Gas Metering, Energy Metering as the numbers were very high. In Industrial IoT space it started with health and safety of workers (Ref 4) – people tracking, health straps to monitor workers health, location, geo-fencing hazardous areas. In main-stream Industries, IoT has given measurable benefits. Industry case studies suggest, IoT helped reduce time between design to production for an auto company by 3 months (Ref 1).
With emergence of LoRa and its ability to send data wirelessly over distance, Industries are figuring out how to go about optimal ways of IoT implementation – reduced cables in plant, quicker deployment, retrofitting wireless data loggers on various equipment, asset tracking, employee health monitoring etc.
For readers benefit, some of the most used use cases in Indian Industrial IoT based on LoRaWAN are described below
Many industries such as Textile, Steel, etc. carry high temperature steam, water, chemical, gas etc. from one point to other. Some the material temperature can range 800 to 100 degrees celcious. Typically these pipelines have head line and subline. It becomes important to measure temperature of these distributed pipelines at different points. Installing wired Temperature sensors becomes a cumbersome activity. Also, maintaining wired infrastructure adds recurring operational cost. LoRaWAN® comes to rescue. LoRaWAN® based Temperature sensors equipped with long lasting battery, that gives life line ranging between 5 to 10 years gives significant advantage.
With Temperature sensing over LoRa, some of the existing products in market have also evolved to leverage the technology, such as Steam Traps, Heat Exchangers etc.
In a typical power plant in India, 5000 workers visit daily, an automotive plant may have 2000+ employees visiting, a large IT company has 1000+ people visiting premise. Each of them uses various equipment and tools. Tracking Employee along with the assets that they carry becomes important task. Tracking of assets, optimising its utilization, safety and security of employees becomes organisational goals. With LoRaWANs ability to send data across 6-15km distance and reaching the heights more than 75 meters, helps ensuring safety of workers at work place – be it high heights or long distances. Triaxial accelerometer brings in the important aspect for identifying heavy movement, free fall, heavy jolt etc.
Industries carry liquid, water, chemicals, gases, steam, air etc. from one part of the plant to the other part of the plant. The quantity is regulated and measured. A small leakage or a condensation results in cumulative larger volume loss of resources, resulting into additional costs. Keeping a tap on these aspects become important. LoRa based Flow Meter or LoRa based Pressure Sensor comes handy. Retrofitting LoRa Node that reads 4-20 mAmp or senses pulse etc. becomes useful for existing setup. In some of the industries, Air is the second highest cost. Ensuring there is NO leakage at any point by continuously observing the pressure inside pipelines becomes useful.
As mentioned earlier, LoRaWAN in India started with focus on metering. Clearly the same product has applications in Indian Industries too. Energy is one of the top contributing factor in the Operating cost of any plant. Many plants opt for granular level energy monitoring planting meters at specific areas of the plant or specific machine in plant, or multiple units of same nature together. Power factor, Cumulative KW, Instantaneous Current, Instantaneous Voltage along with timestamp are the important energy parameters that are monitored. These parameters are used to derive information such as current consumption, power utilization, peak current, time of utilization, days of utilization, unexpected increase or decrease in consumption etc. LoRaWAN® based government certified Energy meters are replacing traditional meters in Industries. In India, Energy Meter OEMs have started integrating LoRaWAN® capabilities within the meter. While, System Integrators are coming with LoRAWAN® based UART readers to extract data from traditional energy meters.