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A German company specialized in embedded wireless long-range networks (LPWAN) offers a ready-to-use flexible and scalable sensor network based on LoRa™ technology. This private network infrastructure can be integrated in existing or planned monitoring systems to collect and transmit operational data such as metric sensor data or status information to optimize industrial and logistic processes. The company is targeting research co-operation and commercial agreements with technical assistance.
The company offers a long-range radio sensor network including all required hard- and software (firmware) components. The solution addresses commercial companies and research institutes, who are looking for a flexible wireless sensor network that allows a quick integration into ongoing software products of projects. The company is interested in technological collaborations such as development contracts, licensing, leasing or purchasing agreements.
A key benefit of the offered network solution is to enable short-term, minimum effort process data collections. The installation of the battery-powered sensors is 100% cordless. Thus, Industrial IoT pilot installations can be executed in between a few hours, even without the need to involve the customers’ IT department. One centrally positioned gateway typically covers entire production halls with areas of 50,000 m² and above.
The central network access point (gateway) as well as the end devices (connected sensors and actuators) can be easily configured and managed via a license-free Message Management Center (MMC) according to application-specific requirements.
The modular building block system contains a wide range of proven and certified end devices. Examples are end devices sensing:
• ambient light
• acceleration (3D)
• air or soil humidity
• battery level
In addition, a variety of actuators is available, including
• call / notification button with e-ink graphical display
• LED signal tower
• 1D/2D optical scanner
• electronic lock
• acoustic signalling device
The MMC manages the radio transmissions between end devices and gateways. All communication between the gateway and 3rd party software applications is performed via standard IP connections. The MMC can run on the gateway hardware or, alternatively on a dedicated PC. MMC provides a dashboard for central monitoring and control of all end devices registered at the gateway. The dashboard allows direct communication with the end-devices. It also logs all incoming data and events.
Another core feature of the MMC is the native support of Node-RED, a graphical tool for creating sensor message flows. It allows to connect end-devices by interfaces of applications, send emails or tweets event-based, or simply monitor devices conveniently. Node-RED supports MQTT, the industry standard real-time M2M message protocol. Further supported software interfaces for the data exchange between gateway and LAN/WAN are SOAP, HTTP(S) and OPC UA.
The offered wireless network offers significant advantages in comparison to established solutions such as WLAN (Wi-Fi):
• long-range data transmissions (up to 1,000 m indoor and 10 km outdoor range)
• low power consumption, enabling battery-powered sensors with multi-year battery life
• easy installation and administration, virtually no impact on existing IT infrastructure
• low initial and maintenance cost (CAPEX and OPEX), even in case of networks with large spatial coverage
• with only one to a few gateways, up to several thousand end devices (sensors and actuators) are connected
• no additional (non-administrable) repeaters are required
• use of free (ISM) European frequency bands: no license fees, no ongoing usage costs
• star-shaped topology, gateways typically acting as a transparent bridge between end devices and a Message Management Center (MMC)
• bidirectional communication between end devices and gateways, or applications
• fully automatic provisioning of end devices
• network privacy - data is not transmitted over a public network
• high data security against hacker attacks
• dual AES128 Encryption (hardware- and software-based)
• SSL connections to the IP network
• no occupation of private IP addresses by the end devices - just one private IP per gateway
• all end-devices are, nonetheless, uniquely addressed
• roaming without data loss for mobile end devices
• localization of end devices
The end device firmware and the network protocol is optimized for Industry 4.0 use cases with regard to battery life, latency and reliability.
A line-up of ready-to-use wireless and battery-driven end devices including Kanban occupancy sensor, Andon call button, LED signal lamp and optical scanner enable a fast implementation via standard software interfaces and protocols.
The technology is already in productive use in the automotive and metalworking sector.
The German company is looking for commercial partners (preferably but not limited to SMEs) and research institutions interested in
- licencing the technology to incorporate it in its products and services under licensing agreement
- commissioning the German company as a technical cooperation partner to provide installation/implementation under a commercial agreement with technical assistance
- further developing the existing technology in cooperation with the German company under a research cooperation agreement.