Simple Solutions for Complex Problems

Create: 07/11/2017 - 17:35

As the industrial and smart-city IoT world wrestles with which wireless network is better and how to effectively analyze their data, solution providers on the front lines are worrying about the best way to connect OT to IT. A small French firm may have solved for the latter, simply and elegantly.

It’s no small challenge, as IT and OT have been operating completely separately with different systems, protocols and security requirements for decades. Even the people speak an almost different language. IT folks are concerned about networking, security, upgrades and information presentation, while OT folks are concerned with keeping the factory machines running, and upgrading as infrequently as possible. The same machines can stay untouched for decades.

However, things are changing, quickly. As data gathering from the factory floor for predictive analysis becomes increasingly important, engineers on the shop floor are wondering how to connect old legacy systems and sensors to new networks, without wrecking anything.

For smart cities, the problem is similar, but with the added twist of needing to find ways to efficiently add thousands of new sensors to the network and to the cloud. The architects and designers can buy custom sensors with wireless connectivity built in and rip out the old sensors, but that costs more, and now they are committing to a specific wireless interface, which many are reluctant to do as wireless connectivity options continue to diversify.

A simple solution to this dilemma may appeal to IOT solution providers that need to deploy sensors quickly and still keep their wireless options open. Adeunis RF has developed a module that connects any sensor output to LoRaWAN or Sigfox long-range, low-power, low-data-rate networks.

Adeunis RF’s approach is wireless IoT network agnostic. It currently caters to LoRaWAN, Sigfox and M-Bus: simply connect the sensor and the module handles the rest.

The modules take inputs from up to two sensors using common signaling such as 0-10V, 4-20mA and Dry contacts. It then converts the signal such that it can be transmitted wirelessly, saving the time and trouble of laying down wires, or even possibly removing currently installed wires. The sensors can be for anything, including temperature, pressure, humidity, CO2, speed, vibration and light.

Sigfox and LoRaWAN, among others, like Narrowband IoT, continue to fight for long-range wireless IoT dominance. Sigfox is promoting its proprietary licensed technology as being more reliable and interference free, while LoRaWAN is being promoted by the LoRa Alliance as the unlicensed option with more independent support. Membership is now in excess of 500 members. Both offer ranges in excess of 10 km, reliably, though 50 km has been achieved but at very low data rates.

In the meantime, solution providers don’t have to commit exclusively to either, and can help close the OT-IT gap and accelerate their integration efforts. Complex problems, but simple solutions sure do help.


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Patrick Mannion
Patrick Mannion is an independent writer and content consultant who has been working in, studying, and writing about engineering and technology for over 25 years.

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