- Customer required fast-ramp up Proof of Concept for new connectivity to enable an IoT sensor network
- Existing site Wi-Fi networks not viable as they were at peak utilisation
- A new Wi-Fi network not possible due coverage requirement and chance of frequency clashes
- Diverse range of assets to be monitored above ground and in tunnels
- Latest generation Private LTE network designed and commissioned
- IoT over LTE architecture implemented
- New IoT over LTE devices validated in Aqura Labs
- IoT over LTE devices deployed across site assets
- Highly stable, large coverage network and IoT sensors deployed
- Network deployed and converted to full production status
Business efficiency, environmental governance and safety systems all rely on timely, quality data to ensure agile and optimised decision-making.
With new data processing technologies able to analyse and process so much more data than ever before, businesses are demanding more data from the source to enable faster, data-driven decision-making and optimisation in operations.
But when the source of the data is thousands of kilometres away, in some of the harshest terrain around, or many kilometres out to sea, the ability to reliably, promptly, and cost-effectively gather and transport that data to where it is to be analysed becomes that much harder.
Taking a step away from legacy
In 2020, we had a customer approach us with a challenge they had an existing hardwired sensor network in their Pilbara operations site, but it was limited in coverage and didn’t give them the insights they needed across their operations. Whilst they knew they needed a new sensor network, they needed to build a business case. Upgrading and expanding the fixed network was deemed too costly and would take too long.
The customer approached the Aqura team to develop a Proof of Concept (PoC) to utilise newly emerging wireless IoT sensor technologies with an appropriate connection technology which could operate reliably across a very remote and harsh landscape and diverse equipment.
NB-IoT and CAT-M1 sensors leverage advanced connectivity to feature battery life which can be measured in years. This supports very low-cost, highly effective deployments.
Starting with the right foundations
With the client already operating numerous Wi-Fi networks, adding another was not an option as frequency clashes would be inevitable and potentially cause the existing networks to degrade, or fail. Existing networks already at full utilisation so the challenge was set to identify an alternative connectivity which would deliver the reliability and coverage they required across the mine infrastructure.
With extensive experience across a range of wireless technologies, the Aqura team looked initially to leverage LoRaWAN with a Private LTE backhaul.
Delivering above Expectation
The Aqura team investigated options and determined that a new generation of LTE sensors would be a better option for the client to trial in the PoC.
These sensors had been used on carrier LTE environments previously and were supposed to be ‘plug and play’ on a Private LTE network. Or so the manufacturer said. But when Aqura’s engineers went to test the sensors in the Aqura lab, they wouldn’t connect out of the box .
Once configured and validated correctly by Aqura engineers, the sensors were deployed into the field. The results were significantly above the customer’s expectations. With this, the PoC went into immediately into production. Aqura was then engaged to increase coverage of the Private LTE network, particularly to cover conveyors that passed through tunnels.
A Better Way With Wireless
Alan Seery, Aqura Chief Operations Officer reinforced the necessity of reliability and coverage to support large sensor deployments.
“As operations look for greater efficiencies, reliable and broad coverage broadband wireless is becoming a necessity. Operations want better cost of deployment per sensor, more diversity in sensors and lower overhead for installation and maintenance,” said Seery.
With new generation IoT sensors over LTE, there is a significant variety of data that can be collected, and they can be deployed without specialists needing to be sourced. This, coupled with the ability of an IoT-architected Private LTE network, particularly accessed as-a-Service, can offer a very competitive cost per sensor cost of deployment.”
The case for leveraging Private LTE is enhanced as it leverages licensed spectrum which avoids chances of interference. This enables assured QoS and SLAs for connection and uptime. The wireless network is no longer best efforts and can be relied upon for safety and production critical sensors.
With Private LTE able to support tens of thousands of sensors per cell and cloud-based management platforms tracking the health, performance, security, and routing of sensor data from each endpoint, assured and reliable operational insight is far more accessible than ever before.
Let’s connect so we can share how we can support your edge data capture needs with validated IoT solutions which leverage high-performance Private LTE.