5 Reasons Process Industries Need LPWAN

Process Industries and LPWAN

BehrTech Blog

5 Reasons Process Industries Need LPWAN

Process Industries and LPWAN: 5 Cutting-Edge Applications

From oil and gas, refineries and chemicals to pharmaceuticals and food and beverage, process manufacturers face similar challenges of volatile market demands and constant pressure to improve operational performance. For many companies, failing to meet peak performance can result in devastating revenue losses. As IoT ushers in the next industrial revolution, process manufacturers are among the first to catch this digital transformation wave.

At its core, IoT involves data aggregation from thousands of smart sensors in functioning processes and equipment. Data is streamed to local, on-premise database or control systems, and/or cloud platforms where actionable insights are derived, to enable operational transparency and intelligent decision-making. These powerful IoT applications are driven by new wireless connectivity that enables low-power and affordable “last-mile” communications from massive, granular data points.

Low Power Wide Area Networks (LPWANs)


Different from time-sensitive automation applications, a larger number of IoT remote monitoring use cases require much lower bandwidth data transmission. For example, data on silo fill levels or ambient temperature typically don’t need to be updated at millisecond-latency. When it comes to IoT sensor networks, what’s more important is the ability to connect a much larger base of data points in an affordable and power-efficient manner.

Communications range is another critical requirement given the remote and challenging locations of many processes and assets. On top of that, ease of installation provides the flexibility to adapt and expand to dynamic business needs. In this context, wired solutions – expensive and cumbersome to implement, alter and expand – fail to deliver.

Purpose-built for large-scale, low data rate sensor networks operating on independent batteries, Low Power Wide Area Networks (LPWANs) are disrupting the IoT landscape. Fifty seven percent of industrial IoT professionals reported that they were researching or developing LPWAN solutions.

An intriguing aspect of LPWANs is their multi kilometer range and deep penetration capability, which outperforms WiFi, Bluetooth and industrial wireless mesh. This makes them a viable solution for geographically dispersed and/or structurally dense industrial campuses like oil fields, refineries and process plants. At the same time, ultra-low power design sustains many years of battery life, which in turn contributes to lowering Total-Cost-of-Ownership and environmental footprint. Compared to industrial mesh solutions, LPWANs can be implemented without complex network configuration and at a fraction of both device and operational costs.

Note that network performance can greatly vary among different LPWAN options. For solutions operating in the license-free spectrum with many co-existing radio systems, interference resilience is a prerequisite to ensure optimal reliability of the radio link. Process manufacturers who are unfamiliar with LPWANs may find it challenging to compare and evaluate multiple options available in the market. As a rule of thumb, technologies built on rigorous industry standards published by Standard Development Organizations, offer proven quality, scalability and industrial-grade reliability. So far, Telegram Splitting – recognized in the ETSI standard for Low-Throughput Networks (ETSI TS 103 357) – is the first and only worldwide standardized technology in the license-free LPWAN market.

5 Reasons Process Industries Need LPWAN


The central value around IoT is the unparalleled visibility into current operations. In this regard, a versatile LPWA network can connect everything, from stationary plant assets to mobile workers and their surroundings. It particularly excels at hard-to-access locations and in perilous environments where manual monitoring is too risky and simply ineffective.

1. Pipeline Monitoring


Responsible for transporting gases and liquids across production, pipelines are an integral asset in oil and gas, chemical and other process industries. Pipeline leakage is a major operational risk due to significant financial and environmental  consequences. Besides asset losses, the release of oil and other toxic substances results in severe pollution and associated astronomical fines. Similarly, gas and chemical leaks can be a trigger point for a catastrophic explosion with irreversible consequences.

Using LPWANs, manufacturers can collect vibration, strain, flow and acoustic readings from multiple sensor data points, to remotely monitor health and integrity of their pipeline systems. This allows for automation of manual activities like regular on-site visits for inspection and data recording. More importantly, structural damage and failures can be identified from the outset for early intervention to reduce repair and downtime costs while minimizing negative consequences.

2. Silo Level Monitoring


Silos and tanks are used across process industries for storing essential processing inputs and end products. Constant monitoring of these assets is needed for multiple purposes including production planning, inventory control and safety management. However, this is often challenging. Many silos and tanks are positioned far off from central operations at inconvenient locations with difficult terrains.

Even when manual reading is possible, it is labor-intensive and time-consuming while still not providing accurate insights into the current fill level. As such, refilling or emptying are done either too early or too late, leading to reduced productivity, costly production halts or wasteful and hazardous overfills. Chambers containing toxic chemicals additionally impose health risks to staff when collecting data. A robust LPWAN solution can tackle these issues by effectively connecting low-power sensors on remote tanks and silos. With real-time fill level data, plant managers can strategically schedule visits and the resources needed on demand to optimize staff productivity and safety.

3. Predictive Maintenance


As process manufacturing is asset-intensive, equipment that do not operate at maximum capacity can considerably impair productivity. Preventive maintenance – performed on a predefined, regular basis – is inherently inefficient as it does not align with equipment conditions. Often times, such maintenance is done too frequently or worse, not timely enough – resulting in expensive and unnecessary production losses.

Amidst growing call for demand-based predictive maintenance, versatile LPWANs provide the communications infrastructure for scalable condition monitoring of equipment. Measurements on current, temperature, pressure, vibration and other health parameters of critical assets can be cost-effectively transmitted from massive endpoints to a cloud-based or in-house analytics tool. Incoming data is then interpreted to diagnose any abnormal deviations alongside potential wear and tear of parts and components. As such, manufacturers can schedule maintenance only when required, thereby enhancing asset reliability while reducing service and downtime costs.

4. Environmental and Cold Chain Monitoring


Environmental factors exert significant impacts on product quality and safety in many processes. Specifically, pharmaceutical, chemical and food and beverage industries all strive to seamlessly monitor their cold chains to preserve characteristics and optimal shelf life of end products. Maintaining favorable humidity additionally plays a decisive role in minimizing mold and bacteria development while not compromising product quality. Likewise, in the pharmaceutical industry, proper dust control is central to avoid product contamination and mitigate harmful health effects on workers.

Rather than solely depending on the reliability of HVAC systems, manufacturers can leverage LPWAN-enabled sensor networks to obtain unprecedented visibility into critical ambient factors throughout production and storage. Disruptive conditions and their root cause (e.g. refrigerator and HVAC equipment malfunctions) can be detected early for counteractive measures before small issues turn into catastrophes.

5. Worker Safety


Workers in processing plants are exposed to a myriad of imminent dangers – from regular contact with toxic chemicals and airborne substances to fatal falls, equipment mishaps and explosion risks during inspection and maintenance. In addition to robust training and proper use of protective equipment, staying informed of employees’ health and their work surroundings can reduce the risk of fatal incidents and chronic diseases.

Typically, smart wearables can communicate onsite workers’ vital metrics like pulse and location over LPWAN to the operations center. In tandem with contextual data (e.g. air quality, heat, humidity, radiation) from environmental sensors, employee’s prolonged exposure to hazards, overexertion and accidents can be timely alerted for preventative actions. For example, encouraging workers to take a recovery break when needed can greatly improve worker productivity while circumventing fatigue-related injuries and incidents.

Ensuring optimal conditions of critical safety equipment with predictive maintenance also decreases the risk of equipment mishaps. By the same token, LPWA-enabled remote monitoring eliminates regular manual inspection, thereby reducing workers’ contact with perilous equipment.

Wrapping Up


Industrial IoT is inherently multi-faceted. While wired solutions continue to be the backbone for factory and process automation, LPWANs offer a complementary wireless infrastructure to realize a new host of powerful IoT applications. Though wireless connectivity is not new to many process companies, LPWANs can help bolster their competitive edge by curtailing costs and augment efficiencies in multiple ways.

Range, power and cost advantages of these networks enable connection of previously inaccessible assets, on an unprecedented scale and with data granularity. On top of that, simple installation and management eliminate the expense and hassle associated with network configuration, implementation and expansion with alternative options. Nevertheless, not all LPWANs are created equal. Opting for a solution based on a proven industry standard will assure carrier-grade reliability, security and long-term interoperability of the IoT architecture.

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7 Cutting-Edge Use Cases of IoT in Hospitality

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7 Cutting-Edge Use Cases of IoT in Hospitality

IoT in Hospitality

BehrTech Blog

7 Cutting-Edge Use Cases of IoT in Hospitality

7 Cutting-Edge Use Cases of IoT in Hospitality

The success of the hospitality industry has always been entirely dependent on customer service. Whether an individual is traveling for business or pleasure, or a company is planning a large trade show, the level of customer service received during a trip will determine whether people come back or warn their friends and colleagues to avoid these businesses in the future. If this wasn’t enough pressure, in the wake of COVID-19, heightened concerns around health and safety have forced owners and operators to provide additional levels of customer service that address these anxieties as the industry seeks to recover from a long hiatus. From personalized guest services and occupancy comfort to improved facility management, leveraging IoT in hospitality can provide the magnitude of customer satisfaction needed to stay competitive while simultaneously helping hotels, restaurants and conference centres cut down costs.

Here are 7 Cutting-Edge Use Cases of IoT in Hospitality

1. Indoor Environmental Quality Monitoring

Indoor Environmental Quality (IEQ) has moved from the fringes of hotel design to the very centre-stage. The COVID-19 outbreak has brought concerns about hygienic spaces and clean air within hotels, restaurants and conference centres right to the top of the priority list. In the past, the primary focus of IEQ has been to cut down energy consumption, however, it has shifted to ensuring these spaces have clean air to breathe and the ambient temperature, light and noise quality is optimal for guest comfort. Wireless IoT sensors play a critical role in IEQ monitoring; providing insights into each of these critical indoor climate factors to protect the health, comfort and productivity of guests and employees.

2. Energy Optimization

Energy is the second largest spending category for a hotel after employment, representing 3% to 6% of hotel operating costs and accounting for approximately 60% of its CO2 emissions. IoT plays a vital role in ensuring energy resources are used efficiently and in accordance with sustainability efforts. Data from occupancy sensors in guest rooms, conference rooms or recreational facilities, coupled with the Building Automation Systems can be used to automatically adjust room conditions like HVAC, power and lighting, to optimize energy usage based on the room status, for example, checked-in rooms, occupied rooms and unused rooms.

3. Consumables Monitoring

Ensuring occupants have adequate access to vital consumables like hand soap, hand sanitizers, paper towel and toilet paper can be challenging, especially when the demand highly fluctuates and there’s a current bottleneck in the supply chain of hygiene materials. With the help of wireless IoT sensors, facility managers can proactively monitor when consumable supplies are running low in guest rooms, business centers and workout rooms for effective inventory management and timely replenishment.

4. Cleaning Services and Sanitation

With health and wellness top of mind, maintaining a regular disinfection and cleaning routine is paramount. People counting data combined with presence detection data can pinpoint areas that are frequently used and those that are not or provide timely notifications when meeting rooms, gyms and pools are no longer in use. Hospitality staff can then use this information to work more efficiently and ensure cleaning practices are carried out when needed.   

5. Traffic Control

Since the COVID-19 pandemic, businesses are required to enforce new restrictions on the number of visitors in their space to ensure compliance with government social distancing regulations. People counting systems can help track the number of people entering or exiting any given space in real-time and alert facility managers when their capacity threshold has been met.

6. Predictive Repairs & Maintenance

Customer satisfaction is greatly dependent on smooth operations and zero interruptions to service. Wireless IoT sensors can capture data on the condition status of hotel appliances, equipment and facilities and notify the maintenance personnel as soon as equipment shows signs of deterioration, or unusual performance. This not only reduces repair costs, but also ensures maximum uptime and performance of all amenities for guests.

7. Guest Room Automation

Another great example of IoT in hospitality is guest room automation. Smart hotel solutions now enable hotels to provide their guests with a completely customized service. For example, some accommodations offer guests the ability to control many of the room’s features from their mobile phone, or from a provided tablet. This might allow guests to control the lighting, heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems from one place, or even just specify a temperature and allow the various devices to automatically regulate the room to that temperature. It will also typically allow them to control the television, while some devices may even greet them by name. This connected network can also be used to identify the preferences of guests and provide personalized services during their next visit. Furthermore, hospitality businesses having their hotels in different locations can also share data about their customers in a common CRM to make sure that the guests come across the same experience in every branch of the hotel chain.

Wrapping Up

IoT is poised to revolutionize the hospitality industry. The vast amount of data derived from IoT devices has the potential to drastically improve operational efficiency, level-up customer experiences and significantly reduce costs. Fully harnessing such potential requires a robust IoT architecture that starts with versatile edge connectivity. Compared to wired solutions, wireless IoT such as low-power wide area networks are much more cost-effective and easier to implement. When navigating different LPWAN technologies, power-efficiency, scalability and excellent building penetration are key requirements to keep in mind. On top of that, you would want to ensure data ownership and simple integration of the wireless infrastructure in your existing business systems.

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5 Reasons Process Industries Need LPWAN

BehrTech Blog5 Reasons Process Industries Need LPWANProcess Industries and LPWAN: 5 Cutting-Edge ApplicationsFrom oil and gas, refineries and chemicals to pharmaceuticals and food and beverage, process manufacturers face similar challenges of volatile market demands and constant pressure to improve operational performance. For many companies, failing to meet peak performance can result in devastating revenue losses.

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4 Best Practices in Industrial IoT Architecture

Industrial IoT Architecture

BehrTech Blog

4 Best Practices in Industrial IoT Architecture

The Industrial IoT architecture is made of numerous elements from sensors, connectivity and gateways to device management and application platforms. Assembling these different moving parts might seem daunting, especially for companies who are just at the outset of their IIoT initiative. On top of that, industrial applications entail unique requirements and challenges that need to be addressed tactfully.

The good news is that emerging tools and developments are helping simplify and streamline the process of establishing a viable IIoT architecture. As the IIoT landscape continues to evolve in 2020, here are four best practices tech leaders should consider when architecting their next industrial IoT architecture.

1. Hardware Rapid Prototyping

In the industrial world, the challenge of IoT hardware design lies in the bewildering array of use case requirements. Take temperature sensors as a simple example. Depending on criteria like accuracy, temperature range, response time and stability, there could be hundreds of available sensors to choose from. Most likely, there won’t be an out-of-the-box wireless sensor out there that fully meets your or your client’s specific needs. And that’s where IoT rapid prototyping comes in.

Hardware prototyping standards like mikroBUS allow you to build a customized IoT device prototype in a matter of a few hours and with efficient resources. From a broad portfolio of ready-to-use, compatible sensor, interface and wireless modules as well as compilers and development boards, you can create the optimal hardware mix-and-match that caters to your industrial use case. With rapid prototyping, companies can ratify the technical and business viability of their IIoT solution in a cost-effective and agile fashion, which lays the cornerstone for a successful roll-out.

2. Retrofit Wireless Connectivity

An average factory operates with legacy industrial systems that are nowhere near being connected. While these systems employ a number of proprietary communication protocols for automation purposes, data is captive within discrete control loops, creating numerous data silos on the factory floor. The lack of interoperability among these protocols further hinders the implementation of a factory-wide monitoring and control network.

Emerging retrofit wireless connectivity is critical to an industrial IoT architecture as it enables manufacturers to connect and acquire data from their legacy assets and systems in a simple and cost-effective manner – without costly production downtime and invasive hardware changes. Through the use of an integration platform, operational data can be fetched from controllers through wired-based serial and other industrial protocols, then forwarded to a remote control center using long-range wireless connectivity.

3. Software-Defined Radio

As no wireless solution is use-case agnostic, a typical IIoT architecture is likely to incorporate multiple radio protocols and standards. Plus, many industrial facilities today have already implemented wireless networks (e.g. Wi-Fi, WirelessHART…) to a certain extent, and look to deploy new types of connectivity to tap into other high-value use cases. Thus, it’s critical to create an efficient and backward-compatible IIoT architecture that can accommodate the co-existence of different wireless technologies, which is why software-defined radio (SDR) is gaining momentum.

SDR refers to a radio communication method where the majority of signal processing is done using software, as opposed to the traditional hardware-driven approach. IoT gateways leveraging SDR can incorporate and decode different protocols concurrently to reduce infrastructure cost and complexity. What’s more, adjustments or additions of new wireless solutions to the architecture can be achieved with simple software updates. This allows companies to dynamically adapt to future operational and technological changes while continuing to support legacy wireless devices in the field.

4. Portable, Container-Based IIoT Platform Design

Depending on criteria like security, reliability, data ownership and costs, companies need to choose among an on-premises, public or private cloud deployment, or even a hybrid approach. As the industrial IoT use cases and architecture scale, the decision on the deployment model and/or cloud vendor is subject to change as well.

In this context, an IIoT platform, typically a device management platform, that comes with a portable, container-based design renders industrial users with full flexibility in selecting their preferred backend environment. At the same time, it enables a simple migration to another server as needed without compromising the consistency or functionality of the application. The idea of a container-based design is that individual applications are packaged and delivered within discrete, standardized containers called Docker. With this modular architecture, users can decide which specific platform functions/ applications they want to use and where to deploy them. Thanks to its flexibility and portability, the container-based design facilitates an interoperable and future-proof IIoT architecture that keeps up with the industry’s dynamic needs.

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5 Reasons Process Industries Need LPWAN

BehrTech Blog5 Reasons Process Industries Need LPWANProcess Industries and LPWAN: 5 Cutting-Edge ApplicationsFrom oil and gas, refineries and chemicals to pharmaceuticals and food and beverage, process manufacturers face similar challenges of volatile market demands and constant pressure to improve operational performance. For many companies, failing to meet peak performance can result in devastating revenue losses.

Posted on

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Posted on

4 Best Practices in Industrial IoT Architecture

BehrTech Blog4 Best Practices in Industrial IoT Architecture The Industrial IoT architecture is made of numerous elements from sensors, connectivity and gateways to device management and application platforms. Assembling these different moving parts might seem daunting, especially for companies who are just at the outset of their IIoT initiative. On top of that, industrial applications

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LPWAN and Environmental Monitoring: 5 Use Cases for Industry 4.0

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Posted on

Understanding IoT Security

BehrTech BlogUnderstanding IoT SecurityAn Interview with Dick Wilkinson CTO, Supreme Court of New MexicoThe dramatic surge of IoT devices has transformed how we interact on a day-to-day basis. From industrial sensors for environmental monitoring and asset tracking to smart home sensors for lighting and leak detection, a plethora of IoT devices connected to networks are

Get Next-Gen Wireless IoT Connectivity with MYTHINGS

LPWAN and Environmental Monitoring: 5 Use Cases for Industry 4.0

LPWAN and Environmental Monitoring

BehrTech Blog

LPWAN and Environmental Monitoring: 5 Use Cases in Industry 4.0

When talking about the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) or Industry 4.0, it’s not uncommon for manufacturers to interpret its value through the lens of factory automation. For many, a smart factory is a next-gen automation facility with advanced robotic equipment and enhanced real-time production control. High-bandwidth automation networks will have their place in the next industrial revolution, however they aren’t the only value creator. What’s most disruptive about IIoT is the ability to tap into unprecedented insights on the factory floor to optimize processes and boost productivity. And, a large part of these insights come from granular environmental wireless sensors.

Until recently, monitoring environmental conditions across industrial campuses had been prohibitive due to the costs and complexities of legacy wireless solutions. Environmental data is minimal in size, but the number of sensors needed to cover an entire facility is vast. Cellular and short-range solutions are too power-hungry and expensive for this type of low-bandwidth communications and therefore fail to scale with the required amount of end points.

Today, the advent of Low Power Wide Area Networks (LPWAN) introduces reliable and cost-effective connectivity for environmental monitoring. The technical design minimizes complexity and power footprint on the transceiver to lower device costs while enabling long battery life. Long range and a star topology additionally simplify deployment in large-scale, geographically dispersed facilities.

Environmental data delivers a whole new level of visibility into daily operations. By correlating contextual information with machine outputs and parameters, manufacturers can attain a holistic view of their production, identify bottlenecks and understand what is causing inefficiencies. Below are 5 examples of how LPWAN and environmental monitoring can help improve productivity and safety on the shop floor.

1. Quality Control

Ambient conditions have a significant influence on many industrial processes. For example, optimal air humidity and quality are essential for uniform coloring and painting tasks, alongside stable drying cycles and chemical reactions. Similarly, maintaining favorable room temperatures ensures precise fluid injections and optimal quality of 3D-printed components in industries like auto manufacturing. Having an environmental sensor network in place, manufacturers can oversee important ambient variables that impact production and respond timely to undesirable changes.

2. Worker Safety

Industrial workers are often exposed to a myriad of dangers. According to the International Labor Organization, work-related illnesses and diseases are estimated to incur USD$3 trillion of global economic losses each year. Monitoring workplace surroundings like air quality, combustible gases, heat, noise and radiation, can help better safeguard industrial workers. In conjunction with data from worker wearables, analysis of environmental data allows for identifying prolonged exposure to adverse conditions, out-of-tolerance incidents and potential workplace hazards. This enables managers to take counteractive measures accordingly to ensure worker’s health, safety and productivity.

3. Equipment Maintenance

A wide range of industrial and electronics equipment is subject to damage caused by unfavorable ambient conditions. Typically, excessive indoor humidity is conducive to condensation and corrosion of machinery, while too arid atmosphere leads to friction and electrostatic charge. Likewise, constant monitoring of the room temperature is vital to avoid equipment overheating that shortens its lifetime while presenting fire threats. Leveraging IoT sensors, businesses can have 24/7 insights into these critical environmental factors for effective regulation of heating and cooling devices.

4. Regulatory Compliance

In industries with treacherous extractive processes like mining, quarrying and oil and gas, rigorous environmental monitoring is integral in daily operations to minimize negative ecological implications. In this context, wireless sensors help automate monitoring tasks and deliver round-the-clock visibility to guarantee regulatory compliance. Specifically, they can report on underground water quality for early identification of acid drainage and prevention of widespread contamination. As another example, they can measure ground vibration, air quality and pressure during and after blasting to evaluate its impact on nearby residences and improve the future design.

5. Energy Management

Energy costs lie among the top operational expenses of industrial and commercial facilities. Despite the high overhead, statistics have shown that as much as 30 percent of the energy use is wasted. As companies constantly look to lower energy costs, granular IoT sensors offer an affordable approach to upgrade HVAC systems for higher efficiency. Instead of having a centralized and uniform HVAC setting, facility managers can leverage micro-zoned indoor climate data from IoT sensors to adjust heating and cooling on demand. Such a system helps circumvent the problem of HVAC overuse while optimizing occupancy comfort.

The power of IIoT goes far beyond what factory automation depicts. With ambient conditions having a significant impact on operational efficiency, safety and sustainability, IIoT is set to unlock this insight and open numerous opportunities to improve your business.

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5 Reasons Process Industries Need LPWAN

BehrTech Blog5 Reasons Process Industries Need LPWANProcess Industries and LPWAN: 5 Cutting-Edge ApplicationsFrom oil and gas, refineries and chemicals to pharmaceuticals and food and beverage, process manufacturers face similar challenges of volatile market demands and constant pressure to improve operational performance. For many companies, failing to meet peak performance can result in devastating revenue losses.

Posted on

7 Cutting-Edge Use Cases of IoT in Hospitality

BehrTech Blog7 Cutting-Edge Use Cases of IoT in Hospitality7 Cutting-Edge Use Cases of IoT in HospitalityThe success of the hospitality industry has always been entirely dependent on customer service. Whether an individual is traveling for business or pleasure, or a company is planning a large trade show, the level of customer service received during a

Posted on

4 Best Practices in Industrial IoT Architecture

BehrTech Blog4 Best Practices in Industrial IoT Architecture The Industrial IoT architecture is made of numerous elements from sensors, connectivity and gateways to device management and application platforms. Assembling these different moving parts might seem daunting, especially for companies who are just at the outset of their IIoT initiative. On top of that, industrial applications

Posted on

LPWAN and Environmental Monitoring: 5 Use Cases for Industry 4.0

BehrTech BlogLPWAN and Environmental Monitoring: 5 Use Cases in Industry 4.0When talking about the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) or Industry 4.0, it’s not uncommon for manufacturers to interpret its value through the lens of factory automation. For many, a smart factory is a next-gen automation facility with advanced robotic equipment and enhanced real-time production

Posted on

Understanding IoT Security

BehrTech BlogUnderstanding IoT SecurityAn Interview with Dick Wilkinson CTO, Supreme Court of New MexicoThe dramatic surge of IoT devices has transformed how we interact on a day-to-day basis. From industrial sensors for environmental monitoring and asset tracking to smart home sensors for lighting and leak detection, a plethora of IoT devices connected to networks are

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Understanding IoT Security

IoT Security

BehrTech Blog

Understanding IoT Security

An Interview with Dick Wilkinson CTO, Supreme Court of New Mexico

The dramatic surge of IoT devices has transformed how we interact on a day-to-day basis. From industrial sensors for environmental monitoring and asset tracking to smart home sensors for lighting and leak detection, a plethora of IoT devices connected to networks are helping drive innumerable benefits for users. While the benefits of IoT are undeniable, security remains a primary concern for individuals and businesses. This week on the blog we interview cybersecurity expert, Dick Wilkinson to provide insight on risks, prevention and predictions surrounding IoT security.

What is IoT security and what industries are most vulnerable to security threats?

I define IoT security as the process of making sure smart or connected devices only do what you want them to do, and they always work when you expect them to work. If you can achieve that, then you have secured your IoT devices. Of course, that is much easier said than done, even simple devices can harbor multiple serious threats to your overall network or environment.

Every industry is at risk from IoT threats. The highest risk of a headline grabbing catastrophic failure exists in the critical infrastructure and medical fields. The most vulnerable, meaning likely to be attacked, products are the more accessible devices like home consumer or smart city devices that sit out in the open to collect information or provide surveillance through data and sensors. The risk from smart devices exists on a fluid spectrum and each use case presents unique threats with a different risk profile, even if the device itself is not changed from scenario to scenario.

What are the biggest security challenges in an IoT deployment?

People worry about the high number of devices and assume asset identification and management will be the hardest challenge. I would argue that monitoring and inspecting the traffic from these devices to know when you have an anomaly is a much harder and more valuable to challenge to take on. Identifying anomalous, and possibly threatening, behavior from 200 devices is harder than just keeping track of them and where you put them.

What steps can companies take to better protect their IoT systems and devices?

My suggestion is to make a detailed deployment or use plan and identify all of the capabilities and possible configuration options of your new device(s). Do not take the device out of the box and immediately put it in service on your production environment. Just because the device is simple or serves a simple function does not mean that it is secure by design. Security features may exist and be disabled by default to ensure your new tech works easily the first time. Check every configuration option and disable functions or features you know you don’t need. Every input on the device is a possible attack vector, don’t leave open doors to your network, even if the doors are tiny or invisible.

How can companies better communicate their IoT security efforts to reassure stakeholders?

Right now, most stakeholders will be satisfied to know you are even thinking about security around your IoT devices. IoT security has been neglected and too much trust has been offered to these devices. Being aware that smart devices pose new risks and being able to communicate how you are assessing those risks is probably a great starting point to reassure any kind of stakeholder.

What predictions do you have for IoT security in the next 3-5 years?

IoT use is already exploding in almost every industry. I believe the trust that consumers have offered to these devices is quickly fading away. Both product consumers and government regulators are increasing scrutiny of smart devices and new cybersecurity standards will be published very soon. The market appeal of selling verified secure products and the government drive to regulate security into the production of smart devices will help drive down the risk of using IoT. Product verification for cybersecurity threats, not just functionality or safety, will become a standard requirement to enter the market with a new IoT product. Consumers will not tolerate insecure devices existing on the market 3-5 years from now.

IoT Security

Dick Wilkinson

CTO, Supreme Court of New Mexico

Dick Wilkinson is the Co-founder and CTO of Proof Labs inc. He is also a retired Army Warrant Officer with 20 years of experience in the intelligence and cyber security field. He has led diverse technical missions ranging from satellite operations, combat field digital forensics, enterprise cybersecurity as well as cyber research for the Secretary of Defense.  

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5 Reasons Process Industries Need LPWAN

BehrTech Blog5 Reasons Process Industries Need LPWANProcess Industries and LPWAN: 5 Cutting-Edge ApplicationsFrom oil and gas, refineries and chemicals to pharmaceuticals and food and beverage, process manufacturers face similar challenges of volatile market demands and constant pressure to improve operational performance. For many companies, failing to meet peak performance can result in devastating revenue losses.

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7 Cutting-Edge Use Cases of IoT in Hospitality

BehrTech Blog7 Cutting-Edge Use Cases of IoT in Hospitality7 Cutting-Edge Use Cases of IoT in HospitalityThe success of the hospitality industry has always been entirely dependent on customer service. Whether an individual is traveling for business or pleasure, or a company is planning a large trade show, the level of customer service received during a

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4 Best Practices in Industrial IoT Architecture

BehrTech Blog4 Best Practices in Industrial IoT Architecture The Industrial IoT architecture is made of numerous elements from sensors, connectivity and gateways to device management and application platforms. Assembling these different moving parts might seem daunting, especially for companies who are just at the outset of their IIoT initiative. On top of that, industrial applications

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LPWAN and Environmental Monitoring: 5 Use Cases for Industry 4.0

BehrTech BlogLPWAN and Environmental Monitoring: 5 Use Cases in Industry 4.0When talking about the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) or Industry 4.0, it’s not uncommon for manufacturers to interpret its value through the lens of factory automation. For many, a smart factory is a next-gen automation facility with advanced robotic equipment and enhanced real-time production

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Understanding IoT Security

BehrTech BlogUnderstanding IoT SecurityAn Interview with Dick Wilkinson CTO, Supreme Court of New MexicoThe dramatic surge of IoT devices has transformed how we interact on a day-to-day basis. From industrial sensors for environmental monitoring and asset tracking to smart home sensors for lighting and leak detection, a plethora of IoT devices connected to networks are

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LPWAN and Bluetooth Low Energy: A Match Made in Networking Heaven

LPWAN and Bluetooth

BehrTech Blog

LPWAN and Bluetooth Low Energy: A Match Made in Networking Heaven

Given its significant benefits in terms of reliability, minimal latency and security, wired communications has been the backbone of industrial control and automation systems. Nevertheless, as the new wave of IoT applications arises, we quickly see wired solutions reaching their limits.

Trenching cables is inherently cumbersome, capital- and labor-intensive, not to mention the fact that damage to wiring brings the risk of production downtime. Due to the plethora of proprietary wiring protocols, any additions or modifications to the architecture is deemed costly and could even entail a “rip-and-replace” of cables and conduits. The bulky and expensive wired infrastructure thus limits the number of connected endpoints and is highly constrained in terms of range and network capacity.

In direct comparison, wireless networks require far fewer hardware components, and less installation and maintenance costs. As there aren’t any physical cables involved, sensors can be easily attached to mobile assets to tap into a new host of operational data. On top of that, wireless networks make data collection in hard-to-access and hazardous environments possible and can flexibly expand to meet your changing business needs.

The central value around IoT is the unprecedented visibility into existing processes, equipment and production environment that empowers strategic decision-making. Think of applications used for asset maintenance, facility management and worker safety. As opposed to high-bandwidth, time-sensitive communications, many IoT sensor networks send small-sized telemetry data periodically or only when abnormalities are identified. Of even greater importance is their ability to connect vast numbers of distributed field assets and devices to bring granular business insights. With this in mind, wireless connectivity is often the better option to bring your physical “things” online.

Given the bewildering range of wireless solutions available in the market today, choosing the right technology is no easy task. Not all wireless technologies are created equal and not all can manage every use case. For this reason, there is a growing demand in multiprotocol support. Devices that combine the complementary strengths of different wireless standards and frequencies in one design, such as LPWAN and Bluetooth, makes it feasible for more complex sensor networks to exist.

LPWAN and Bluetooth Low Energy: A Match Made in Networking Heaven

Bluetooth’s ubiquity and global, multi-vendor interoperability has made it the core short-range technology for industrial and commercial IoT projects. Bluetooth Low-Energy (BLE) enabled devices are often used in conjunction with electronic devices, typically smartphones that serve as a hub for transferring data to the cloud. Nowadays, BLE is widely integrated into fitness and medical wearables (e.g. smartwatches, glucose meters, pulse oximeters, etc.) as well as Smart Home devices (e.g. door locks), where data is conveniently communicated to and visualized on smartphones. The release of the Bluetooth Mesh specification in 2017 aimed to enable a more scalable deployment of BLE devices, particularly in retail contexts. Providing versatile indoor localization features, BLE beacon networks have been used to unlock new service innovations like in-store navigation, personalized promotions, and content delivery.

The challenge with BLE-enabled devices is that they must have a way to reliably transmit data over a distance. The reliance on traditional telecommunications infrastructure like Wi-Fi or cellular has put growth limitations on these sensor networks. Long range communication is often a significant obstacle in industrial settings because Wi-Fi and cellular networks are not always available or reliable where industrial facilitates or equipment are located. This is why a complementary, long-range technology is so important.

Geared for low-bandwidth, low computing end nodes, the newer LPWAN solutions offer highly power-efficient and affordable IoT connectivity in vast, structurally dense environments. No current wireless classes can beat LPWAN when it comes to battery life, device and connectivity costs, and ease of implementation. As the name implies, LPWAN nodes are designed to operate on independent batteries for years, rather than days as with other wireless solutions. They can also transmit over many miles while providing deep penetration capability to connect devices at hard-to-reach indoor and underground locations.

In this context, LPWAN extends the power efficient and high data rate capabilities of BLE devices by serving as a reliable and robust backhaul for long range communication in both complex indoor environments and remote locations. This increases deployment flexibility, reduces the need for costly and complex network infrastructure requirements and makes it more feasible for massive-scale sensor networks to exist.

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For example, LPWAN and Bluetooth Low Energy together, enable the deployment of IoT networks in a significantly broader geographic area. This flexibility is increasingly important as more IoT sensor networks are deployed in far flung, industrial locations like remote mining, oil and gas and manufacturing facilities.

Together, they also cost-effectively enable critical indoor applications like asset tracking and consumables monitoring that require reliable connectivity for a vast number of end-nodes. The physical barriers and obstructions as well as co-channel interference with other systems often present in indoor environments can create challenges for reliable data communication. However, the long-range, deep indoor penetration and high interference immunity offered by next-gen LPWAN technologies ensures reliable data connection in any large industrial campuses or smart buildings.

Wrapping Up

The success of any IoT deployment is dependent on reliable connectivity, which remains a huge obstacle for numerous industries like mining, manufacturing, oil gas and smart buildings. These industries are faced with complex and often remote environments where traditional wired and wireless connectivity options are not possible as standalone technologies. That’s why combining different technologies that cover each other’s drawbacks while also adding on top their individual advantages is critical for building a reliable and robust IoT network. The combination of LPWAN and Bluetooth Low Energy in one design, increases flexibility and integration and opens up a new world of exciting industrial and commercial applications. 

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5 Reasons Process Industries Need LPWAN

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7 Cutting-Edge Use Cases of IoT in Hospitality

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4 Best Practices in Industrial IoT Architecture

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BehrTech BlogLPWAN and Environmental Monitoring: 5 Use Cases in Industry 4.0When talking about the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) or Industry 4.0, it’s not uncommon for manufacturers to interpret its value through the lens of factory automation. For many, a smart factory is a next-gen automation facility with advanced robotic equipment and enhanced real-time production

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Understanding IoT Security

BehrTech BlogUnderstanding IoT SecurityAn Interview with Dick Wilkinson CTO, Supreme Court of New MexicoThe dramatic surge of IoT devices has transformed how we interact on a day-to-day basis. From industrial sensors for environmental monitoring and asset tracking to smart home sensors for lighting and leak detection, a plethora of IoT devices connected to networks are

Build Scalable and Flexible Networks with the mioty BLE Dual Stack

The Importance of Data Interoperability: 8 Experts Weigh In

Data Interoperability

The Importance of Data Interoperability: 8 Experts Weigh In

Across all industries, maintaining a competitive advantage requires more than simply finding ways to optimize operations and reduce costs. It’s about being smarter. The chief motivation for adopting IoT technologies is the interconnection of critical data from disparate systems and processes to make more informed and intelligent business decisions.

This week on the blog we’ve asked 8 experts to weigh in on the importance of data interoperability in their industry.

Adam Belnap, VP of Sales & Customer Relations

Data interoperability is extremely important for one simple purpose: growth. The fusion of multiple data points brings huge value for operational insight, power to make educated decisions and to create shared workflows for improved efficiency. Companies that view all of their data as a complete resource for growth, will scale quicker and have a faster ROI on multiple areas of their business.  

Matt Schaubroeck, CEO

There are a number of systems that exist in buildings, and unless we can understand how each of these systems affects the other, we won't be able to unlock that building's true potential. Data is only helpful if you are able to use it properly - an interoperable dataset helps to increase the value of that data between multiple systems, the sum of which is greater than each of its parts. That interoperability also helps identify trends in the data that may not have been evident through a single system - multi-variable data analysis can unlock new insights that we are not yet aware of. Any data collection system should take steps to ensure that their information can be easily shared, while maintaining user confidentiality, security and anonymity. That balance between data confidentiality and interoperability will unlock new insights for data-driven solutions, both in buildings and across a wide variety of industries.

Data interoperability in general and between systems is one of the most important must-haves for IoT ecosystems. Without it, exchange, as well as consumption of data with a clear explanation of content, context and meaning, is challenging. This has a major impact on IoT ecosystem providers and end-users. If data interoperability is not sufficient, it will hinder the provider and end-user from reaping all of the benefits that IoT has to offer. It is the foundation of data exchange and data-based decision-making.

Before the time of OMS, meter data was formatted and transmitted in a company-specific way. Thus, there were different protocols and each company had its own formatting. For utilities, this represented a major effort to decode the meter data and bring it to billing. With the introduction of OMS, utilities can now process meter data from a wide variety of meter providers in the same way every time.

In the process of digitalization, this is more necessary than ever, because now the meter data can come to one platform via the most diverse transmission protocols. There, they must be able to be processed in the simplest way. This is only possible if there is a specification that defines the data format.

In this context, there are efforts towards OMS over LPWAN, GSM or Bluetooth. Only the adoption of a specification and standard will lead to the success of these technologies. This also needs to exist in data processing.

Nathan Mah, Cofounder

Data interoperability is a topic that forward-thinking properties are engaging in. In order to fully understand your data and how it can interact together, you must first choose the data sources you need to operate your business efficiently as well as be able to build the foundation of open vendors and integrations. Architecting vendor solutions around a data interoperability strategy is a critical component of any smart building portfolio, but some enterprises are further along in the conversation than others. 

Commercial buildings represent the perfect site of ideal data interoperability; they are physically and geographically finite, the use cases can be tied directly to ROI, and there are not yet extensive regulatory or government requirements to consider when developing a data interoperability strategy. In the future, we expect a “blueprint” of vendors who have well defined data interoperability and share data openly to gain traction in the market as smart buildings continue to scale. Leveraging various sources of data to targeted use cases for buildings, managers, and tenants will increase the overall customer experience and lead to an improved future for all.

Data interoperability via sensors can offer unique insights into the correlated systems. Interoperability shows us how much we can gain when aggregating larger pools of data, such as broader insights, which can allow the user to make broader decisions on informed data. In addition, there is a chance for indirect analysis or insights gained from an unrelated use case. 

Data interoperability is what enables IoT applications to be useful. Data and the decisions that are derived from that data are not isolated to IoT systems. The contents and context of data and what the data analytics provides to the rest of the business is even more important. An IoT application is not an end to a mean. It's a decision that, paired with other support, enables an organization to actualize broader company strategies from intelligent data sources.

Interoperability of sensors, machines and data services is the key to high user-friendliness and smooth deployment of IoT technologies. Unfortunately, in agricultural applications there is still a very heterogeneous and historically grown system landscape. At Agvolution, we therefore focus on the open and flexible exchange of data. Our IoT technology in particular uses mioty and other open wireless IoT protocols to provide the perfect user experience.

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5 Reasons Process Industries Need LPWAN

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4 Best Practices in Industrial IoT Architecture

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Understanding IoT Security

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Smart Brownfield: Bringing IoT Connectivity to Legacy Industrial Sensors with LPWAN

Industrial sensors

BehrTech Blog

“Smart Brownfield:” Bringing IoT Connectivity to Legacy Industrial Sensors with LPWAN

Industries around the world are undergoing a major digital transformation. According to a new market research report, the Industrial IoT (IIoT) market will be worth $110.6 billion by 2025. From manufacturing and logistics, to oil and gas and agriculture, IoT provides undeniable benefits and opportunities for optimization, efficiency, asset management and industrial control.

As optimistic as it sounds, the realization of IoT initiatives is inherently challenging. One of the biggest obstacles is found right where IoT starts – gathering operational data at the edge and communicating it to the cloud.

Most legacy assets, machines and equipment were not designed to connect beyond industrial facilities, creating huge data silos across the organization. This leaves companies with two choices: building entirely new, greenfield plants with new IoT technologies or updating brownfield facilities for IoT connectivity. Since a substantial upfront investment makes a “rip-and-replace” approach to industrial IoT mostly infeasible, the demand for gathering data from legacy industrial sensors and systems such as 4-20mA sensors, will continue to rise.

The 4-20mA Challenge

The 4-20mA current loop is a widely adopted and versatile analog signalling standard found in brownfield industrial sensors. Today’s 4-20mA sensors can track a variety of variables, including temperature, pressure, humidity, and water levels. In a current loop, these process variables are gathered by the sensors and then converted into a proportional current value between 4 and 20mA. Traditionally, these signals are then sent to the process controller via wiring to trigger responses on actuators. For example, a 4-20mA current loop configured to measure tank water levels might assign an empty tank a value of 4 milliamps and a full tank a value of 20 milliamps. In this case, an electrical current of 12 milliamps would imply the water tank is half full. Likewise, from a temperature perspective, operators could assign 4 milliamps to 0 degrees Celsius and 20 milliamps to 100 degrees Celsius in which case 10 milliamps would translate to 37.5 degrees Celsius. Readings below or above these thresholds would signal to operators that there is a temperature issue.

While 4-20mA current loops are versatile and simple to configure for process controls, they also pose a significant challenge. Data flows from these industrial sensors operate within a closed-loop and stay locked on the factory floor. This creates huge data silos across the organization and prevents users from obtaining a comprehensive picture of what’s happening with their equipment, processes and facilities. Furthermore, in many cases 420-mA networks require complex wiring to transmit the output signal to a receiving device, such as a distributed control system, a programmable control system, a data acquisition system, a recorder, or an indicator. In many indoor and outdoor industrial environments, running cables is complex, cumbersome and expensive.

Creating a “Smart Brownfield” with LPWAN

The concerted effort in gathering data from legacy industrial sensors and systems will become a top priority in 2021 and beyond. 4-20mA sensors are, and continue to be, widely used in enclosed industrial networks to measure and report critical variables to a local controller for automation and control tasks. As such, a retrofit IoT solution that adds robust, scalable and long-range IoT connectivity to 4-20 mA devices will open immense possibilities for better operational oversight and planning, especially when it comes to remote assets and systems.

In particular, plug-and-play low-power wide area network (LPWAN) connectivity solutions are easing IoT integration with legacy equipment. For example, an IoT wireless transmitter embedded with 4-20 mA interfaces can draw process data from field sensors and send it to a remote base station using LPWAN connectivity. Besides minimizing infrastructure requirements and production downtime, this solution also offers the benefit of power independence because the transmitter can operate on batteries that last for years. This permits a simplified and wide-scale deployment that can gather vast data from legacy assets and equipment while drastically reducing costs. Furthermore, next-gen LPWAN technologies provide the interference immunity and deep indoor penetration needed to overcome the physical obstructions and environmental complexities of industrial campuses to ensure reliable data communications from these devices at all times.

Today’s LPWAN solutions also offer flexibility and interoperability with existing IT infrastructure and business applications for data management, visualization and machine learning, while ensuring effective integration with future devices, systems and applications.

Given their establishment in the industrial world, 4-20mA industrial sensors will remain a fundamental component of industrial operations for years to come. With the advent of plug-and-play LPWAN connectivity, updating brownfield equipment for IoT is no longer an expensive and daunting task. By breaking down data silos and tapping into unprecedented operational insights in real-time, the opportunities to enhance operations and bolster competitive edge are endless.

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5 Reasons Process Industries Need LPWAN

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7 Cutting-Edge Use Cases of IoT in Hospitality

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Digital Oilfields and the Rise of Integrated Asset Management

Digital Oilfields

BehrTech Blog

Digital Oilfields and the Rise of Integrated Asset Management

The oil and gas industry is in the middle of a fundamental transformation. Between volatile market prices, fluctuating demand and complex compliance and regulatory regimes, the need for improved operational efficiency is at an all-time high. With the promise to deliver enhanced operational visibility, safety and performance, the transition to digital oilfields has become a top priority. According to a recent report, global wireless sensor network revenues for oil and gas exploration, production and pipeline operation will reach $2.2 billion with asset management expected to be the fastest growing IoT application. This is no surprise as the industry looks for cost-effective ways to manage an ageing infrastructure, optimize production and performance, all while reducing reduce economic, environment, health, and safety risks.

The Asset Management Challenge

Asset management has played a critical role in the oil and gas industry for years. While traditional asset management systems such as spreadsheets provide, to some degree, a window into asset status, they lack structure, real-time visibility and data interoperability.

Manual systems and processes can significantly hamper operations. For example, the probability of human error with manual data entry is between 18% and 40%. With inaccurate asset data, the condition status, safety and optimization of assets is at risk. Identifying and fixing errors also costs the company time and money that could be spent on more critical areas of the business. Furthermore, these legacy systems do not provide real-time data nor do they communicate with other functions and processes of the business. This creates limited information and siloed systems. This is a major issue for moving asset-based industries such as oil and gas where tracking the real-time location, performance and safety of all assets is critical to optimizing processes, eliminating downtime, reducing costs and minimizing environmental impact.

The Rise of IoT and Integrated Asset Management

With IoT comes a new generation of low-power, wireless sensors that can turn traditional physical objects into digital devices. Attached to individual assets like equipment, tools, vehicles and even people, these sensors capture and report detailed information about current asset conditions as well as where they are and how they are being used. Leveraging robust, long-range IoT connectivity, insights into even the most remote, isolated assets can be gathered at a control center and easily accessible by operators and technicians. By having a holistic, real-time picture of cross-site assets, they can quickly pinpoint under-utilized equipment, diagnose impending issues and bottlenecks and easily mobilize tools and parts.

Here are 4 key benefits of integrated asset management in digital oilfields.

1. Optimize Asset Utilization

Oil and gas equipment is often left at a job site for days or weeks at a time. This puts equipment at risk of being misused, misplaced or even stolen. To manually search for machines, tools, or other equipment wastes time and money. Workers drive from site to site, burning up fuel, clocking more hours, and putting priority jobs on hold. Using IoT sensors enabled by robust, long range connectivity, companies can track and locate all equipment in real time. Data can also be aggregated across multiple remote locations to better coordinate asset utilization across locations, control inventory and increase the level of service efficiency provided to customers.

2. Maximize Uptime with Predictive Maintenance

Breakdowns can immobilize your entire operation. According to a Kimberlite research, just 3.65 days of unplanned downtime a year can cost an oil and gas company $5.037 million. An average offshore oil and gas company experiences about 27 days of unplanned downtime a year, which can amount to $38 million in losses. In some cases, this number can go to as much as $88 million. One of the biggest reasons to employ an asset management solution is to greatly reduce this downtime by catching equipment failures before they happen. Wireless IoT sensors enable companies to capture critical asset data like pressure, temperature, vibration, level and flow data to forecast impending problems and failures. Integrating this data along with other machine data from an enterprise resource planning or asset management system and equipment history data, helps companies identify patterns and issues to employ an effective predictive maintenance strategy and ensure maximum equipment uptime.

3. Ensure Regulatory Compliance

An integrated asset management approach also demonstrates commitment to asset optimization and smooth operations in relation to regulatory compliance. This is extremely critical in the oil and gas industry where asset failure can lead to devastating environmental repercussions. With remote equipment and process monitoring, companies can ensure that all assets are in peak operating condition, significantly reducing the likelihood of catastrophic equipment failure. However, if something does go wrong, historical maintenance data can be used to prove that the company took all necessary precautions to try to prevent asset failure.

4. Fleet Management

Monitoring fleet performance, location and maintenance is critical to the efficiency of all transportation logistics and ensuring regulatory compliance. With an integrated asset management solution, fleet managers have access to critical telematics data to help ensure timely vehicle maintenance, reduce fuel consumption and fuel costs, enhance driver management, and improve asset utilization and route planning.

The Role of LPWAN in the Digital Oilfields

The transition from brownfields to digital oilfields can be cost-intensive and highly challenging due to extreme operating conditions and insufficient communication infrastructure. Offshore distance, explosive atmospheres, rugged terrains, absent power supply and electromagnetic interference represent the most demanding environment for any wireless network.

With its long range, high power efficiency and high interference immunity, low power wide area network (LPWAN) technologies deliver the resilient sensor connectivity needed for remote monitoring and asset management. Covering a vast area of a 5 - 15km radius (depending on structural density), the system enables effective data collection from assets located in remote and hazardous areas where workers’ accessibility is restricted. Supporting long-lasting operation of independent, low-cost batteries on the sensor side, LPWANs also significantly alleviate the upkeep effort of battery recharging and replacement. Furthermore, the outstanding network robustness of third generation LPWAN technologies secures optimal signal reliability in the electromagnetic interference environment, as well as across rough terrains, elevation and through heavy metal obstructions.

Wrapping Up

Integrated asset management enabled by innovative IoT sensors and next-gen LPWAN plays a pivotal role in digital oilfields. It’s ability to provide data interoperability across systems, processes and people helps oil and gas companies reduce costs, mitigate operational risks and provides a holistic approach towards enhancing visibility, collaboration and performance while generating a higher value from operational expenditures.

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5 Reasons Process Industries Need LPWAN

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Posted on

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Posted on

LPWAN and Environmental Monitoring: 5 Use Cases for Industry 4.0

BehrTech BlogLPWAN and Environmental Monitoring: 5 Use Cases in Industry 4.0When talking about the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) or Industry 4.0, it’s not uncommon for manufacturers to interpret its value through the lens of factory automation. For many, a smart factory is a next-gen automation facility with advanced robotic equipment and enhanced real-time production

Posted on

Understanding IoT Security

BehrTech BlogUnderstanding IoT SecurityAn Interview with Dick Wilkinson CTO, Supreme Court of New MexicoThe dramatic surge of IoT devices has transformed how we interact on a day-to-day basis. From industrial sensors for environmental monitoring and asset tracking to smart home sensors for lighting and leak detection, a plethora of IoT devices connected to networks are

Transition from brownfield to digital oilfield with MYTHINGS

The Evolution of IoT Device Security and Privacy

IoT Device Security

BehrTech Blog

The Evolution of IoT Device Security and Privacy

As the world starts to look beyond the COVID-pandemic and a “return to business normal”, whatever that may entail, one thing that is certain is that businesses will continue to accelerate towards digital transformation. At the heart of many organisations push towards large scale digitisation will be a continued acceleration to the deployment of Internet of Things (IoT) devices. With ever-increasing connectivity and volume of devices, we are fast approaching a world that will have between 70-80 billion IoT devices by 2025.

Whilst this growth brings numerous benefits across several business sectors and wider society, it will also inevitably change the way people carry out everyday tasks and potentially transform the world.  Undoubtedly IoT will play an important part in individual lives as well as corporate initiatives going forward and whilst having the latest smart phone controlling a smart home is undoubtedly fashionable, smart lighting can actually reduce overall energy consumption and lower consumer and industrial electric bills and carbon footprints and is therefore much more than a technological gimmick.

Technological advancements in the automotive sector will allow connected and increasingly smart vehicles to create a hyper-connected smart city where vehicles can connect to and “speak” to smart city infrastructures to create an entirely new operational ecosystem for the driver and town planner, as they plan how to move from point A to point B.

Indeed, at its fullest extent the ecosystem of connected smart cities will naturally evolve into connected healthcare. As Internet of Medical Things (IoMT) evolves to remove the constraints of hospital and medical capacity through the creation of elasticity in the medical system, connected healthcare devices will provide society a deeper and fuller point of view of their own health, or lack thereof, than ever before.

However, as is the case in many areas of societal progress, there are trade-offs. With all of these benefits comes risk, as the increase in connected devices gives hackers and cyber criminals more entry points, and to the majority of society, the trade-off or risk to privacy is the greatest concern.

Over the past 2-3 years, there have been numerous reports of hacking groups attacking critical infrastructure, including a power grid in a region of western Ukraine, and hospitals in both Europe and the US, not to mention water plants in Israel amongst others. Unfortunately, these attacks are likely to only represent the beginning, as hackers seek to exploit the ever-increasing connectivity between connected business and connected consumers. As a result, the average consumer is becoming ever more concerned about their privacy, and whilst increasing regulation has sought to address this, placing a fundamental expectation of security and privacy by design into IoT device manufacturing and operations is critical.

So, what issues are businesses, society and consumers concerned about in relation to IoT device security and privacy as we move towards a truly connected world?

The first key issue to address is public perception and public confidence. Whilst technological advancement will inevitably continue unabated, this needs to be the first problem addressed. Regulatory statutes such as EU GDPR, SB 327, and SB 734 represent major steps forward, however there remains a long way to go to address consumer concern. In 2015, Icontrol’s “State of the Smart Home Study” found that 44% of all Americans were "very concerned" about the possibility of their information getting stolen from their smart home, and 27% were "somewhat concerned." With that level of worry, consumers would hesitate to purchase connected devices.  Whilst progress has been made, it is unlikely that these figures will have drastically changed today, and if anything, the key trend is that security and privacy has become a fundamental buying consideration for many consumers and businesses that remains unresolved.

The reason for this continued reticence is that so many IoT devices remain vulnerable to hacking as researchers have been able, with relative ease to hack into devices readily available on the market, with relatively simple tools and limited time and energy.  This is often because these devices have been manufactured with simple consumer connectivity and usability at the forefront of development – enshrining the principle of security by design.

Security by design, an often used, but not so often understood phrase describes a methodology that ensures IoT security, and indeed privacy, is a crucial objective at all stages of product creation and deployment. It addresses the challenge that, in many historic hardware deployments and instances of IoT design, security considerations were often included late in the design and prototyping phase. By prioritizing speed to market or other design considerations, security requirements can end up being added on. This approach has led to serious security breaches in the past, as IoT device security cannot be easily retrofitted.

The response can be summarised into 3 key steps required to establish a successful IoT device security and privacy strategy:

  • Security by design approach at the beginning of IoT projects
  • Trusted devices IDs and credentials embedded during manufacturing
  • Lock IDs and credentials in secure hardware containers

However, this drive for consumer usability has inevitably left devices open to exploitation by hacker’s intent in breaching business ecosystems which are now extended to the devices installed in people’s homes. The question is, who is liable for any resultant security and privacy breaches, the manufacturer, or the consumer?  My guidance to manufacturers is that “caveat emptor” – buyer beware – is unlikely to be acceptable for legal consideration when such an event is tested in the courts through a somewhat inevitable future class action law suit for a global privacy breach as so few companies themselves are confident that they have sufficiently robust defences to secure all IoT devices against hackers.

The challenge for manufacturing organisations has been the large-scale proliferation of, and demand for IoT devices, which is largely being driven by end-user organisations seeking new data analytics advantages. IoT devices enable organisations and consumers to collect and aggregate data and the sheer amount of data that can be generated is staggering.  For example, a relatively small town of 10,000 connected homes is likely to be able to generate more than 150m discrete data points every day, creates more entry points for hackers and often leaves sensitive information vulnerable.

These data volumes are created as consumers seek to leverage the simplicity of IoT, and in the very early days of IoT deployment companies have sought to collect user data willingly offered by consumers to make business decisions.  As an example, insurance companies might gather data about your driving habits through a connected car or personal fitness trackers, enticing consumers to offer these data insights through incentives, rewards or often discounts for the services.  However, at the point of purchase, did the consumer consider why there was such a willingness to offer such incentives?

Thankfully consumer awareness is changing and as individuals become ever more aware of their personal and family security and privacy, the need for manufacturers and big business to provide sufficient protection of consumer privacy will become greater. However regulatory influence remains in relative infancy and it is therefore likely that IoT device security and privacy will remain a concern of individual consumers, businesses, and society for several years to come.

IoT Data Security

Mark Brown

Global Managing Director, Cybersecurity and Information Resilience (CSIR), British Standards Institution (BSI)

Mark Brown joined BSI on 1 February 2021 in the role of Global Managing Director of the Consulting Services, Cybersecurity and Information Resilience business and has more than 25 years of expertise in cybersecurity, data privacy and business resilience. He has previously held global leadership roles across industry and professional services, including tenures as Global CISO at SABMiller plc, and Global CIO/CTO at Spectris plc, as well as leadership roles as a Senior Partner at Wipro Ltd., and was also a Partner at Ernst & Young (EY) LLP.
Mark brings a wealth of knowledge including extensive proficiency on the Internet of Things (IoT) and the expanding cybersecurity marketplace as organizations grapple with digital transformation and addressing new technology that brings new business opportunities and risks.
Mark is internationally recognized as a leading authority on information resilience with a focus on cybersecurity and data privacy, presenting a focus on the way IT can enable business strategies and currently chair’s techUK’s Industry 4.0 Cyber Security committee advising the UK Government on how businesses can be incentivized to safely adopt new technologies at minimal risk.  Mark is also an elected member of techUK’s Connected Home Group and Medical Device Innovation Consortium’s (MDIC) 5G Enabled Medical Devices working group.

www.bsigroup.com

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