Transforming Industry 4.0 with LoRa Technology

Marc Pegulu, Vice President, Semtech's Wireless and Sensing Products Group
Marc Pegulu, Vice President, Semtech's Wireless and Sensing Products Group

Marc Pegulu, Vice President, Semtech's Wireless and Sensing Products Group

Increased adoption of Industry 4.0 is driving higher automation and higher levels of data exchange in manufacturing technologies. In addition to use of cyber-physical systems, cognitive computing and cloud computing, a new concept in the Internet of Things (IoT) is making a stronger contribution delivering greater efficiency and lowering energy costs.

Contrary to legacy IoT platforms, this new one features a long range, low power network and multi-year battery life. Low installation and operating costs allow companies to increase efficiency and reduce energy consumption by implementing advanced IoT for Industry 4.0.

Extended range is achieved by basing the Wide Area Network (WAN) on a LoRa® wireless communication platform. In turn, this enables the LoRaWAN™ open protocol to connect sensors which are up to 15 to 30 miles away and support the high capacity to handle millions of messages through a single gateway to a cloud or corporate server. LoRa-based sensors run on ultra-low energy to minimize operational cost with batteries which can achieve over 10 years lifetime.

Thermostat monitoring to decrease cost

A temperature fault within a manufacturing production line can create an anomaly which may risk an error and incur significant cost. A LoRaWAN-based network delivers an intelligent and power-efficient network alternative that alleviates that pain point and monitors the stability of the temperature, which ultimately impacts overall yield. This is particularly important in use cases such as alloy melting, foil thermoforming and the production of items such as glass syringes.

Predictive maintenance to optimize resources

Replacing conventional preventative maintenance with predictive maintenance can greatly reduce downtime and the cost of maintaining a system. Preventative maintenance on a fixed schedule can result in repairs and replacement being carried out too early, while predictive maintenance uses real-time metrics to target maintenance efficiently to an underperforming system enabling company’s maintenance to be targeted more effectively.

This is where LoRa-based sensors come in. These sensors can detect a number of critical factors like temperature, power and sound of individual pieces of equipment around the plant. The data from the sensors embedded within the manufacturing plant are sent via a single gateway to an analysis server where it is processed into real-time metrics which can be accessed by management via mobile devices. The server can also send an alert to ensure that necessary action is taken when an issue is identified.

Additional Efficiencies

LoRa provides many benefits beyond longer range, reduced energy consumption and multi-year battery lifetime for sensors, which includes advantages in data security, reduced investment in the cost of infrastructure and operating costs.

The LoRaWAN open protocol is a standardized system, ensuring streamlined implementation that is easily interoperable with companies such as telecommunication operators, IoT solution providers and applications. It can also be used for asset tracking without the need for GPS or additional power consumption.

Simplicity of Installation

LoRa Technology provides flexibility in deployment options. It can be installed as part of a new build or retrofitted to an existing plant or factory. The challenge of complex installation of networks based on historical wired or short-range wireless networks will no longer be an issue. LoRaWAN also simplifies power efficiency by eliminating the power-source wiring for GSM, LTE or WiFi sensors and using sensor batteries which can last for many years instead of months.

In the age of increased connectivity, LoRa based platforms are revolutionizing how organization maintain cost-effective productivity. Through temperature management, predictive maintenance, increased security and the flexibility of easy installation, these infrastructures are changing how companies operate with less room for error. The benefits of LoRaWAN will continue to improve Industry 4.0 through additional deployment and integration culminating the potentials of smart devices everywhere.

Read Also

Roadmap to the Cloud

Roadmap to the Cloud

Sergio Gallegos, Associate CTO, UCLA Health
The New Economics of IT in a Cloud-First World

The New Economics of IT in a Cloud-First World

Kaytek Przybylski, SVP, Technology Services, Avanade
Preparing for the Remaining 93 Percent of Office 365 Adoption

Preparing for the Remaining 93 Percent of Office 365 Adoption

Kamal Shah, SVP of Products, Skyhigh Networks