Helping industries tackle smart tracking in big spaces with LoRa

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A fully-managed LoRaWAN network is helping an oil company manage key assets at a remote site, improving health and safety and operational efficiencies.

Every vertical market, from agriculture, healthcare and transportation to retail, relies upon knowing where their assets are. These vertical markets may be leveraging more short-range technologies such as Wi-Fi, Bluetooth or RFID right now. But they will all, at some point, need to implement a long-range solution that provides low-power consumption and an advantageous price-to-bandwidth ratio – one that will increase efficiency and organizational capabilities in a large area, while maximizing resources and ensuring reliability.

The big challenge for many companies is that often asset tracking solutions center on the asset itself and not on how it relates to business processes. Focusing on the business processes is fundamental to getting the most out of IoT moving forward.

As an example, an oil and gas company was looking for an innovative, efficient and competitive solution that would achieve just that. The assets they were seeking to track were vehicles that transport goods both indoors and outdoors. They needed to make sure these vehicles were complying with health and safety regulations by not entering forbidden and hazardous areas. At the same time, they needed to be able to optimize resource utilization.

Main drivers for IoT in the oil and gas industry

Connecting the great outdoors

As in many industries, the company was looking for a light infrastructure to track the assets outdoors, saving on costs, while at the same time connecting physical assets into the business process. Geolocation, however simple, is the essence of business innovation moving ahead.

The company evaluated technologies that would allow low power consumption and long-range connectivity, opting for an application-driven concept where it could eventually deploy and manage several solutions without having to worry about complex Infrastructure.

Orange Business Services proposed a solution designed to seamlessly track the mobile assets via a LoRa-enabled GPS tracker using a private LoRaWAN. This allows for tracking and geofencing alerts around the mobile assets, while integrating the solution into the existing operational structure.

The fully-managed solution gives them a view of their vehicles via a portal and data visualization dashboard, tracking the assets on a map. The portal is directly interfaced with the enterprise’s existing operational platform, thanks to an open concept where data is securely integrated into other applications. Orange Business Services looks after the proactive monitoring of the complete infrastructure.

Only a small handful of LoRaWAN gateways were required to cover both indoors and outdoors for the 1.5 square mile area composed of many dense hurricane-proof buildings. “The LoRaWAN IoT solution has the potential to deliver new sensor data that brings real business benefits to the customer, especially where a light infrastructure is required,” explains Jay Stephens, IoT Solutions Director at Orange Business Services.

“This case highlights the penetration of the solution over a large area and opens it up to other industry verticals as part of their digital transformation strategy,” adds Stephens. “Additionally, covering large surface areas and/or very remote locations with a private LoRaWAN can enable sensors to measure temperature, pressure or pump vibrations, for example. These incremental sources of data help improve safety, minimize downtime and reduce the risk of potential leaks that could have severe environmental consequences.”

Indoor tracking

The company itself was so taken with the ease of use, flexibility and cost savings generated by the asset tracking solution that it has already found another very different use case for its LoRa-enabled IoT solution – securing numerous indoor fixed assets to prevent displacement.

Each fixed asset is tagged with a LoRa accelerometer motion detection device, which uses a very low-cost, low-power battery that can last for 7-10 years. It links to a security system setting off an alarm if the asset is moved.

The LoRa IoT solution has proved its capabilities in providing a secure, fast and cost-effective deployment for IoT devices across a wide area in two very different scenarios. It is, therefore, little surprise that the enterprise is already looking at other perspective areas for its LoRa IoT solution, including large-scale industrial placements.

What we see here is a follow-on from implementations we have seen in smart cities. Asset tracking has a huge amount of potential that has yet to be exploited. Knowing where assets are located, and their maintenance stance, is critical to connected business operations. By creating a flexible and customized asset tracking solution using a LoRa IoT solution, companies can make cost savings, dramatically increase efficiency and improve safety. Orange is helping companies reimagine their business and make digital transformation real with the help of IoT solutions.

Discover our range of solutions – including SD-WAN, IoT and collaboration – specifically for the oil and gas industry.