Rugged smart wireless devices improve plant efficiency, smart cities

Get smarter: Industrial plants, smart cities leverage newest protocols, Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) wireless gateways and sensors to increase safety and improve efficiency, communications.

By Neil Carey May 13, 2020

Rugged wireless gateways help communications for smart city and industrial communications.

Industrial and smart city applications use rugged wireless Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) wireless gateways to improve. Smart cities are urban areas that use electronic Internet of Things (IoT) sensors to collect data and manage assets, resources and services efficiently. Collecting real-time and actionable information on a city’s infrastructure has benefits.

IoT devices must be protected from the environment. U.K. based Lucy Zodion, part of the Lucy Group, member of the LoRa Alliance and leader sought to implement a lighting infrastructure. [The LoRa Alliance is the global association of companies backing the open LoRaWAN standard for IoT low-power wide-area networks (LPWANs).]

Lucy Zodion’s smart city platform is Ki. It communicates via an open, wireless ecosystem of enabling hardware and IoT software and leverages LoRaWAN communications due to its long signal range and minimal power requirements.

A LoRaWAN gateway enables continuous connectivity and communications so that nodes can transmit street lighting data to generate actionable insights that enhance asset management. Street lighting has changed from illumination hardware into open ecosystems.

Working with a client, Lucy Zodion “needed to validate if heat had an impact upon the technology specification and understand any performance issues upon data collection, against temperature,” said Richard Perry, smart cities lead at Lucy Zodion. “We needed a compatible LoRaWAN gateway that was resistant, flexible, strong and capable of running in any weather.”

After review, the chosen gateway was deemed scalable, certified, protected against power surges and suitable within the harshest environmental factors including moisture, dust, wind, rain, snow, extreme heat and high impact.

Lucy Zodion plans to continue to develop smart city solutions that bring together a wide range of collaborators to create multi-vendor ecosystems.  “We rely on our partners – it’s a collaborative effort that helps us to produce progressive IoT devices that transform urban infrastructure into a connected ecosystem for smarter, more responsive cities.”

Wireless technology checks valve status

Opening or shutting a valve seems like a straightforward task, until that valve is placed in an industrial environment, surrounded by chemicals, machinery, high heat and dangerous equipment. In such an environment, making a mistake can be disastrous. Thankfully, new communication protocols and sensors are now available, eliminating the risk of mistakes by hands-on workers performing more dangerous day-to-day operations within industrial plants worldwide.

A provider of Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) products, Belgium-based Aloxy, developed a safe, efficient implementation to increase the safety of error-prone, manual valve operations. Automation was applied to improve the process.

Aloxy considered a variety of automation options included wired position indicators or limit switches, which are expensive to install. Aloxy decided to develop an affordable plug-and-play wireless sensor implementation to determine if valves were in the correct position, enable real-time alerts, offering continued no-fault information on valve positions.

Aloxy selected multiple LPWAN radio technologies, LoRaWAN and DASH7 Alliance Protocol, to monitor communications from its ATEX/IECEx-certified sensors, placed on the valves. LoRa, coined from “long range,” is a proprietary spread-spectrum modulation for low data rate, low power, and long-range wireless communication and is ideally suited for industrial environments.

LoRaWAN is the wide area network protocol specification for use with LoRa modulation and is designed for secure bidirectional communication, mobility, and localization services. DASH7 is an open source Wireless Sensor and Actuator Network protocol. Depending on the use case and specific requirements from the customer, one of both protocols is selected for communication. Some of the benefits in using LoRAWAN as well as DASH7 within such an environment include:

  • Long range compared to Wi-Fi
  • Excellent propagation in industrial environments
  • Low power: good trade-off between data rate and energy consumption
  • Private: onsite network deployments being able to use multiple protocols allows to select the most suitable protocol for the specific use case, in terms of sensor range, reliability, latency and battery life.
  • Well-accepted standard within many industrial and chemical plants.

The application needed an IoT gateway that could work with both protocols, was flexible to the needs of varied industrial environments, including those without LPWAN infrastructure, and was rugged enough for harsh industrial environments. After considering a variety of gateways, Aloxy opted for an IP67 base station, a ruggedized IoT gateway designed for outdoor LoRa public or private network deployments. The highly scalable and certified gateway can resist moisture, dust, wind, rain, snow and extreme heat. The device supports LoRaWAN applications in virtually any environment.

The gateway “lets us use multiple radio technologies so we can select the right one for the use case or support both at the same site,” said Glenn Ergeerts at Aloxy. “We considered other gateway providers, but they didn’t have this flexibility. Our LoRa and DASH7 sensors needed a gateway that could support both of these protocols.”

The goal of improving safety and efficiency and automating processes to deliver actionable insights into industrial operations was met. Future applications for the gateways may include running “Docker containers and software defined radio at the gateway level to support more radio technologies,” added Ergeerts.

Neil Carey is regional director, MultiTech Systems, a member of LoRa Alliance. Edited by Mark T. Hoske, content manager, Control Engineering, CFE Media,


Keywords: Industrial wireless, LORAWAN

Collecting real-time and actionable information on a city’s infrastructure with industrial wireless networks are useful.

LoRaWAN is the wide area network protocol specification for secure bidirectional communication, mobility, and localization services.


What benefits could you get from an industrial wireless network?

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Who is Neil Carey? A regional director, MultiTech Systems Inc., member of LoRa Alliance, is Carey focused in the machine-to-machine (M2M) and Industrial IoT market space. He drives adoption of LPWAN technologies and the associated benefits of these disruptive technologies.

What is MultiTech Systems?

MultiTech Systems Inc. designs, develops and manufactures communications equipment for the industrial Internet of things, connecting physical assets to business processes to deliver enhanced value.

What is Lucy Zodion and Lucy Group?

Lucy Zodion has more than 10 years’ experience developing intelligent street lighting implementations for smarter cities, including more than 500,000 smart nodes in the U.K. and beyond. Lucy Zodion Ltd. is a company within the Lucy Group, a privately owned organization of Lucy Group Ltd. Other companies in the Group include Lucy Electric, Lucy Controls (of which Lucy Zodion and Lawson Fuses sit within and Lucy Real Estate (encompassing Lucy Properties and Lucy Developments). Lucy Group is a diversified international group with operating businesses across a number of sectors: Lucy Controls, Lucy Electric and Lucy Real Estate with origins more than 200 years ago.

Author Bio: Neil Carey is regional director, MultiTech Systems