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Home 9 Articles 9 LoRaWAN: How do we enable IoT for Atlantic Industries?

LoRaWAN: How do we enable IoT for Atlantic Industries?

LoRaWAN Enginuity Communications Smart Harbor Marine Logistics Transportation Smart Farming Smart Meters Metering Smart Buildings and Smart Cities Smart Industry Smart Factories Manufacturing and Operations

LoRaWAN is the communications protocol of the future, and you could benefit greatly from it.

We’ll cover what it is, why we’re investing in it, the different applications, and whether it could be a potential fit for your business.

lorawan logo

Enginuity is proud to announce that we’ve invested in a LoRaWAN (Long Range Wide Area Networks) antenna at our Herring Cove Location here in Halifax, Nova Scotia. This is to provide the local innovation ecosystem with a testing capability as developers establish their IoT (Internet of Things) and IIoT (Industrial Internet of Things) solutions.

The antenna is within range of Enginuity’s collaboration locations around the city including COVE, Dalhousie’s ideaHUB, and The PIER at the Port of Halifax. Enginuity’s partners and collaborators located within the Halifax Regional Municipality are all within this new antenna’s range and can therefore benefit from access to a testing platform for LoRaWAN technology.

At Enginuity, we have developed several communications devices over the past few years using this technology and we want to pass on our learnings to students, developers, innovators, and anyone else involved in accelerating IoT development in the region.

Why are we investing in LoRaWAN?

In a world where data harvesting can be done anywhere and everywhere, or LoRaWAN , are becoming increasingly popular. Unlike cellular networks, this new technology does not need a potentially expensive data package, offers a wider connection radius, and requires minimal power to operate.

From farming and agriculture, to construction and marine technology, most industries are becoming more heavily reliant on sensors, data acquisition, interpretation, and management to enhance their processes. If these times of extreme uncertainty have proven anything, it is that the more data we have, the better our predictions will be and the more proactively we can manage and improve our process.

Because of LoRaWAN’s capability to provide long-range and low-power small packet data communication, users have easier access to data and information. This makes data collection, management and sharing much more convenient, and improves decision making processes.

There is lower maintenance, resulting in lower operating costs, and better operations and data management.

After all, better data means better insights. Better insights mean better business, operations, and revenue.

What is LoRaWAN and What can it do?

LoRaWAN is a non-cellular, line of sight communication network that enables battery powered devices, to communicate with a central antenna. The antenna passes data from any sensor within range to the cloud.

So, what differentiates LoRaWAN from WiFi, Bluetooth, Near Field Communications (NFC) and other wireless communication methods?

As implied by its name, LoRaWAN has a much broader range reaching up to 15 Km, as opposed to other wireless network protocols which usually have a limited range of only about 400m. For example – WiFi typically extends to a few hundred meters, bluetooth is usually good for 10-20 m, while NFC is good for a few centimeters. (See image below for comparison)

LoRaWAN communication requires very little power, allowing for systems using LoRaWAN to have a longer shelf life. Depending on data sampling rate, communication rate, and battery size, LoRaWAN enabled devices can last for up to 10 years, during which the device and network will require little to no maintenance. This makes LoRaWAN an ideal choice for remote areas or long-life devices.

Whether it is in machinery, farming or systems integration, LoRaWAN effectively connects and integrates data collected from various points and enables remote control of connected devices and components, such as transformers and valves.

LoRaWAN Bluetooth wifi NFC cellular range comparison enginuity

What does this mean for you?

As part of an Internet of Things (IoT) infrastructure, LoRaWAN has a wide range of applications, including Smart Farming and Agriculture, Marine Logistics and Transportation, Smart Factories, Industrial Automation, and more.

Simply put, LoRaWAN is a communications protocol that empowers IoT, fostering better data collection.

Diving further into the different applications and implementations of LoRaWAN, here are some real-life examples of this promising network, in use:

smart farming iot iiot lorawan

1. Smart Farming and Agriculture

Farmers are under immense pressure nowadays with the increased demand for sustainable and cheap food to feed the growing world population. The main challenge brought upon the agricultural industry is how it will keep up with the growing demand while maximizing yields and keeping operations afloat; adding this to the demand for carbon metrics to understand the effects of climate change. Thus, it is important to make use of technology advancements to resolve this demand and labour issue overall.

This is where LoRaWAN comes in: as part of a Precision Agriculture initiative, farmers are able to gather data and information form sensors and systems around the farm:

    • Soil Health and Condition: Soil moisture levels can be used to determine the optimum time to irrigate, hence conserving water. Similarly, nutrient content, soil acidity / pH, temperature and other indicators allow farmers to make better decisions.
    • Weather Monitoring: Information and data on rainfall, wind speed, atmospheric pressure, humidity, and temperature can be monitored and aid in identifying the timeliness of farming activities.
    • Fertilization Status: Monitoring the fertilization status of farm areas allows for a more informed and targeted fertilization. Farmers do not have to blindly blanket fertilize an entire area – they can just do so upon need, eliminating unnecessary fertilization of areas while maintaining good levels of fertilization as part of a precision agriculture approach. This saves resources, time, effort, and makes way for better yield.
    • Other parameters such as Irrigation Cycle Control, Greenhouse Monitoring, and Pest Detection and Pollination, and more.

    LoRaWAN has the potential to provide low-cost, low bandwidth access to data from many disparate sensors around the farm to provide a greater level of management intelligence.

    smart harbor harbour marine logistics and transportation lorawan

    2. Smart Harbor: Better Marine Logistics and Transportation

    Typically covering large areas, with high numbers of mobile and fixed assets in play, port facilities can be difficult to manage. Effectively managing vehicles, containers, and goods through the facility is highly challenging, while maintaining today’s high requirements for security. In addition, wireless networking performance is often affected by the challenging industrial environment formed from the wide array of metallic components in a typical harbor.

    Seaports are a crucial link in global supply chains connecting marine routes with rail and road routes for the fast and efficient supply of goods around the world. Speed of loading, offloading and transhipping are crucial, as is the management of security, tracking and ‘dwell’ – the time containers sit on dockside waiting for movement.

    Ports are extremely busy places with often conflicting priorities. IoT plays a crucial role in allowing information from all of the ‘moving parts’ of port operations – trucks, containers, vessels, cranes, telehandlers, stackers, rail cars and finally, people – to be centrally handled and managed, optimising the flow of goods and assets in the most efficient manner possible.

    • Geolocation Tracking: Real-time container movement and end-to-end tracking, monitoring locations of ships and trucks to avoid congestion, facilitate maritime traffic, and prevent accidents
    • Security: data from vision systems showing what is moving where and when, triggering events and resources as required
    • Water Quality: Information on temperature, current, salinity, pressure, organic material, and more
    • Sewage and waste information: Run-off monitoring, hazardous material tracking and identification
    • Key Assets performance: Every port has a few key assets that if they slow down or stop, the whole process comes to a halt. Installation of sensors and monitoring tools to track performance and highlight abnormal conditions allows rapid intervention and mitigation to improve port performance.
    smart industry industry 4.0 lorawan iot iiot

    3. Smart Industry, Manufacturing, and Operations | Smart Factories

    Every production facility must maximize production while making the most of today’s challenging demographic conditions. Investing in smart control, machine monitoring and automation can drive productivity, improve competitiveness and protect against production downtime.

    Here are some examples of what can be monitored through LoRaWAN in typical factory operations:

    • Equipment and energy maintenance: Active monitoring of equipment conditions, machinery, and other infrastructure, including battery power and energy consumption
    • Process and materials monitoring: Real-time data collection on the presence, amount, and flow of material across process units
    • Personnel safety and failure watch: Monitoring data to predict and identify potential equipment failure, leaks, and other key parameters to ensure
    • Important parameters such as temperature, air and water pressure, water quality, vibration, pump states, emission monitoring can also be actively observed and therefore managed.

    4. Smart Metering for Utilities

    LoRaWAN offers a more secure, cost-effective, and long-lasting communications solution for typical utility connectivity networks. LoRaWAN can transmit small data packets that are typically required in the utilities market. Smart meters and smart controls in the infrastructure need to have long battery life and be able to transmit in all weather.

    Consumers are typically uncomfortable with allowing utility companies to ‘piggy-back’ on their domestic WiFi network. To counter this, utilities are investigating the use of LoRaWAN to counter the requirement for SIM card based IoT communications LoRaWAN also has a 128-bit Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) to assure end-to-end encryption and data security.

    5. Other sectors exploring LoRaWAN

    Other important aplications where LoRaWAN can add value include:

    • Smart Buildings – for monitoring building security, analyzing and predicting failure of infrastructure’s utilities (like water), monitoring the presence of pests, as well as analyzing real-time occupancy and geolocation to perform potential space optimization within the building
    • Smart Cities – For monitoring safety and security: tracking unusual movement and sending alerts for smoke and fire detection around the area, waste management, monitoring of street lighting, and quantifying environmental pollutants

    What has Enginuity worked on so far?

    Enginuity has developed a smart, modular approach to LoRaWAN and wider electronics development – that we are able to implement the technology in very different applications, highlighting the agility and flexibility of the technology, as well as Enginuity’s capabilities.

    1. Shifting from cellular to non-cellular: a more sustainable way of metering

    Given the technological advancements with communications protocols, one of our clients wanted to shift from using a cellular-based protocol to a non-cellular one, because doing so would increase safety, reduce costs, and increase efficiency. Enginuity developed a non-cellular system through LoRaWAN that would transmit 4 communications every hour compared to the old system that can only transmit 1 communication every 2 hours. An 800% increase in frequency. Combined with the weatherproof housing and long-life battery set-up, the design package met the harsh environment and 10 years life requirements for the project.

    2. Mobile Monitoring System (MMS): Controlled Environment Agriculture

    While LoRaWAN is often used as a solution because of the long connection range it offers, in the case of vertical farming, it was the solution of choice because it can withstand the extremely harsh environment that would typically prevent other communication systems from operating correctly. The system was installed in our client’s vertical farm for 30 days in wet and unfavorable environmental conditions. A package of sensors was designed to provide near real-time growth conditions during the entire product growth cycle. Data could be interpreted and grow decisions made based on the conditions being experienced by the crops during the cycle. LoRaWAN was the chosen communications protocol based on its ability to communicate in a high metal environment that precluded the use of traditional WiFi and Bluetooth protocols. This approach allowed the facility to have better, integrated, and data-driven operations.

    Conclusion

    Our team here at Enginuity is proud to be investing in LoRaWAN as another tool in the box, to overcome harsh environment communications challenges as part of our Product Innovation program. We are delighted to be sharing our antenna network with other IoT and IIoT developers in Atlantic Canada. LoRaWAN’s ability to provide long-range, low-power data communication gives it a place in some of the fastest growing segments in North America. With lower maintenance and lower operating costs, there is also better data collection that ultimately yields better insights: leading to better operations, higher yield, greater throughout, lower downtime and optimal revenue.

    If you’re unsure whether LoRaWAN is the right fit for you, talk to us. We have already worked on multiple projects with varying scopes and conditions, and we are happy to work out how this technology can be applied to your specific challenge.

    And if it has not been done yet? We will happily forge a solution together and advance this technology to where it needs to go.

    About Enginuity’s Electronics Design Services

    Not sure who to call? Enginuity offers a full-range of electronics design and engineering services.

    We work with small and medium enterprises as well as large corporations across a wide range of industries including Aerospace and Defense, Industrial and Marine, Manufacturing, Product Development, Medical Devices, Food and Beverage, and more. Our cross-functional team has a wide range of expertise, ensuring that we get to the root cause of your problem while evaluating your long-term needs, so that you get the best service possible.

    Is Enginuity the right partner for you? You can read about some of our past projects (and engineering case studies) and read why clients love working with us.

    Our principles-based, agile engineering over the past 17 years is built upon our core mission of making a lasting impact to our clients and ensuring that they get what they truly need moving forward – no cookie-cutter engineering. No meaningless micromanagement. Just lean, fast, creative engineering leadership that understands and moves you forward to your goals, at your pace.

    If you think we’ll be a good fit, we can start that conversation here.

    Your journey begins here. Get a glimpse of our Discovery Process.

    For more information about how we work, go here.

    To keep up with new projects and industry information, follow us on:

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    References:

    1. LoRa Alliance®. 2021. Agriculture Vertical Market – LoRa Alliance®. [online] Available at: <https://lora-alliance.org/agriculture-vertical-market/> [Accessed 30 November 2021].
    2. RF Page. 2021. Applications and future of LoRa WAN technology – RF Page. [online] Available at: <https://www.rfpage.com/applications-future-lora-wan-technology/> [Accessed 29 November 2021].
    3. Lora-alliance.org. 2021. [online] Available at: <https://lora-alliance.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/11/LA_WhitePaper_SmartAg_0520_v2.pdf> [Accessed 30 November 2021].
    4. Ieeexplore.ieee.org. 2021. Evaluation of LoRa Technology for Vehicle and Asset Tracking in Smart Harbors. [online] Available at: <https://ieeexplore.ieee.org/document/8927566> [Accessed 30 November 2021].
    5. Roberts, F., 2021. Semtech LoRa geolocation helps Irish Port of Cork track shipping assets. [online] Internet of Business. Available at: <https://internetofbusiness.com/semtech-lora-irish-port-cork/> [Accessed 29 November 2021].
    6. LoRa Alliance®. 2021. Industry Vertical Market – LoRa Alliance®. [online] Available at: <https://lora-alliance.org/industry-vertical-market/> [Accessed 29 November 2021].
    7. LoRa Alliance®. 2021. Buildings Vertical Market – LoRa Alliance®. [online] Available at: <https://lora-alliance.org/buildings-vertical-market/> [Accessed 29 November 2021].
    8. LoRa Alliance®. 2021. Cities Vertical Market – LoRa Alliance®. [online] Available at: <https://lora-alliance.org/cities-vertical-market/> [Accessed 29 November 2021].
    I’m in Atlantic Canada. How do I gain access to this amazing new technology?

    Leave us your email and we’ll be in touch with you soon, along with instructions on how you can gain access to our LoRaWAN network.

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