Since I received such great responses regarding my recent webinar on how IoT asset tracking and sensors can improve the way enterprises run, I’ve composed a brief post to detail what I spoke about. If you manage a large site or are researching how to raise your efficiency and operate a safer workplace, I’ve broken it down into three parts:
- Challenges managers face on large outdoor sites
- How an IoT solution meets and overcomes those challenges
- The factors that make Longview an ideal solution for enterprises
The Vision Problem
Until recently, it’s been difficult and expensive to track and manage the things that matter most on large outdoor sites. This lack of vision is the root of many longstanding problems on largescale projects.
Managers must ensure tools and vehicles are accounted for, and that workforces are effectively allocated and accounted for, while also seeing that employees, contractors, and visitors are not put at risk during normal or emergency operations. So how do managers, using practical methods, improve operational efficiency and workplace safety at the same time?
Those I polled during my talk encountered a variety of visibility-related challenges:
Billing inaccuracies, though underrepresented in this sample group, are an issue I’ve found for many of the site managers I’ve spoken with, who receive invoices but are unable to easily confirm the scope of work, as well as the time and place work was performed. IoT tracking can illuminate all of that.
The results of our live poll showed that each of these challenges matters individually. When stacked on top of each other, the problems are compounded. The good news is that since they all stem from a lack of ability to clearly see and manage people and things over a large area, there’s the potential here to solve multiple problems with one solution.
The Internet of Things (IoT) can be that solution, leveraging remote sensors and long-range asset tracking to provide understanding of the things that matter. Let’s go into detail about how IoT solutions will improve processes and impact safety for large sites by delivering timely information to site-managers and improving their ability to take informed action.
LPWANs: Low-Cost Sensors and Tracking Promise More Visibility
In the past, connectivity needs on large sites have been met by 3G, 4G, and in some cases even 2G cellular networks, or else by a combination of Bluetooth and Wi-Fi deployments. Both routes have proven problematic and cost-prohibitive.
Forthcoming IoT solutions for large operations rely on a different kind of network that has been purpose-built for efficient long-range communications. These networks, called LPWANs (low-power, wide-area networks), provide broader coverage and consume less energy, making them ideal for projects that span expansive sites.
Two widely-known LPWANs are NB-IoT—a cellular IoT protocol that will soon be available for connecting devices on a city-wide, regional or national scale—and LoRaWAN, which can be deployed as a localized private IoT network covering hundred acres or in public networks like NB-IoT.
I’ll focus on the potential of a LoRaWAN solution here, as it fits the scale of most large outdoor operations perfectly and is the more mature technology to this point.
Deploying a LoRaWAN solution, you’ll connect specialized sensors to tools, locations, vehicles, and employee wearables such as hardhats. These sensors will then give you data, depending on what you wish to reveal: asset and employee location, door manipulation, resource status, status of environmental or operational conditions—the list goes on.
Not only will you be able to see this data in real time, you’ll be able to view detailed reports that show time-stamped locations of individual assets and people, and receive notifications when anomalies are observed that let you respond to situations before they turn into larger problems.
All this is possible because the LoRaWAN protocol is outstandingly efficient, and because sensor technology has continued to grow more affordable and more miniaturized over time. But does this mean any LoRaWAN deployment is as good as another? Do all IoT deployments provide the same level of information, and solve all the problems you need them to?
The Comprehensive IoT Solution
Once you recognize the visibility benefits that sensors and an IoT network can provide, the natural next step is to investigate what the most realistic solution is for leveraging those benefits in your own company. With that in mind, I’ll introduce you to the Longview IoT Solution, and highlight the features that make it an exceptional, and comprehensive answer for enterprises looking to cut operational costs and drive greater workplace safety and accountability.
If you research IoT, you will find that there are plenty of IoT platforms available to you. That word in this context should make you cautious. A platform is merely a flat surface: it must be built upon in order for it to provide you benefits. In the world of IoT, this means you’ll be shopping for sensors—and potentially gateways, security, data collection and applications—sourced from assorted suppliers with varying viewpoints on how IoT should operate. Integrating all these various pieces together can then become a monumental and ongoing task that complicates more than it solves.
In contrast, the Longview IoT Solution is all built to work together by one company. This means it comes ready to start—sensors, gateways, cloud, application—with no integration work. It also means the solution is easy to scale, since you can incorporate additional Longview Gateways and sensors easily, as you need them.
This has also proven a huge benefit to security. Because we built the whole solution, we were able to think about, develop, and implement a triple-layer security architecture from the ground up.
The first security measure is the 128-bit encryption layer that comes standard on all LoRa technology. Next, we’ve implemented a certificate system based on the physically unclonable fingerprints of our devices encoded at our manufacturer. Like a true human fingerprint, these provide unique identifiers for each component of the system—IDs that are practically impossible to spoof. On top of all this is a third layer for the full software stack, a 256-bit encrypted key system. This suite of security features covers every sensor, every transmission, every piece of data, from day one.
The last Longview advantage I’ll talk about is our patented Super-B protocol.
A concern for those seeking consistent performance from their IoT devices has been that standard LoRa A communications are unscheduled, firing in a semi-random pattern. Because of this, users can see transmissions fail as they meet with ill-timed and congested data traffic.
At Longview, we’ve developed Super-B protocol, a more advanced LoRa protocol that schedules messages to send in a specified time slot, reducing the number of data traffic jams experienced. This not only reduces data loss, it allows for approximately 8 times the amount of traffic you’re capable of getting on standard LoRa channels. Our Super-B protocol provides better bandwidth efficiency, and robust two-way communication between gateways and sensors, meaning sensors can be upgraded in the field, without the need for manual interaction.
The Longview Solution is unique for many reasons. View my complete webinar to learn more.
Your Site, Your IoT
Until recently, it’s been difficult and expensive to track and manage the things that matter most on large outdoor sites. Now, thanks to IoT technologies, you’re able to see more than ever before, at any given moment. The Longview Solution gives you the visibility to bring down operational costs and elevate workplace safety in an easy to deploy comprehensive solution.