The Importance of Data Interoperability: 8 Experts Weigh In

Data Interoperability

The Importance of Data Interoperability: 8 Experts Weigh In

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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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IoT and Sustainability: 7 Applications for a Greener Planet

IoT and Sustainability

BehrTech Blog

IoT and Sustainability: 7 Applications for a Greener Planet

Traditionally, advancements in technology and environmental sustainability have seemed mutually exclusive. We often think of technological advancements as having a negative impact on sustainability. Since the first Industrial Revolution in the mid 18th century, technological innovations allowed humans to exert a greater influence over natural resources. This combined with the ever-growing population resulted in a heavier usage of raw materials and an increased amount of production, leading to a significant resource depletion and rise in CO2 emissions.

Until now, the factors that propel digital innovation and sustainability have been disconnected. One is motivated by extensive technological change led by IoT, AI and robotics, all promising to transform industrial and commercial processes. The other is driven by climate and environmental deterioration as well as geopolitical instability, all of which demand a new approach that prioritizes resource conservation and environmental governance — and in particular intensifies efforts to de-carbonize the atmosphere.

However, with today’s advancements in IoT sensor technologies and wireless connectivity, the two concepts of digital innovation and sustainability have become mutually reinforcing. Companies must embrace digital transformation and its business-critical insights in order to pivot to more energy-efficient practices, use resources more responsibly and organize processes in ways that reduce waste.

Here are 7 impactful ways companies can use IoT for sustainability:

IoT and Sustainability

1. Smart Energy Management

While reduced costs and user comfort has been paramount in the design of HVAC and lighting systems since their inception, customers and communities have placed an increasing emphasis on sustainable technology. Energy consumption accounts for more than 40% of a commercial building’s total energy use. It’s no wonder so many facility managers (FMs) are finding ways to optimize this system’s efficiency.

Until recently, HVAC equipment has often been regulated in a uniform, predefined fashion, causing wasteful problems like overheating or under-heating across the property. In this context, real-time, granular IoT sensor data enables on-demand, micro-zoned equipment control to achieve higher energy efficiency. What’s more, leveraging occupancy data can also unveil important trends in HVAC and lighting needs to optimize equipment schedules. For example, if HVAC and lighting systems are set to operate until 8pm, but data reveals tenants don’t stay later than 7pm, facility managers can cut one hour of daily energy use to greatly reduce their carbon footprint.

When it comes to usage monitoring, wireless utility submeters help deliver consumption data at discrete building areas or even on individual assets – especially energy-intensive ones. Having these insights at their fingertips, facility operators can swiftly identify and locate bottlenecks for counteractive measures.

2. Air Pollution Monitoring

Most of the rising global attention to air pollution focuses on the impacts that ozone, particulate matter and other pollutants have on human health. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that air pollution inside and outside the home is responsible for about 7 million premature deaths worldwide. The majority of these deaths—4.2 million—are associated with outdoor pollution. It is a leading environmental risk factor affecting urban and rural populations around the world.

Outside of the devastating impact on health, air pollution also has significant ramifications on climate, water, weather, renewable energy, food and vegetation. Recent innovation in low-cost pollution sensors has enabled a new generation of air quality monitoring that provides actionable high-resolution data at a fraction of the cost of traditional monitoring systems. Companies now have real-time snapshots of where air pollution is coming from and traveling to, and who and what is most affected.

For example, methane, the primary component of natural gas, is a potent greenhouse gas accounting for 20% of global emissions. The largest source of industrial emissions is the oil and gas industry, which loses $30 billion worth of methane each year from operations. In this context, an air quality monitoring solution enabled by a low-power wide area network (LPWAN), can provide operators real-time insight into previously undetectable leaks in far flung, remote locations, as well as the ability to remotely control valves to prevent further methane leakage.

3. Smart Waste Management

As cities grow, so does the amount of garbage we produce. By 2050, the United Nations estimate that 68% of world population will live in urban areas and the World Bank that solid waste will increase by 70%. The inadequacy and inefficiencies of existing trash containers and landfills may lead to the accumulation of garbage on city streets and to illegal dumping, with serious consequences for public health. At the same time, more frequent waste collection means more air and noise pollution, traffic, and higher public costs.

Smart waste management has often been discussed in the municipality context, but its benefits and applicability for enterprises are just as far-reaching. It helps to tackle the persistent challenge of emptying schedules that aren’t aligned with actual demand. With waste production rates varying from one day to another at industrial and commercial facilities, pickup trucks often arrive just to offload half-full dumpsters. Needless to say, this introduces increased costs and wasted resources, not to mention the amount of carbon emission resulted from redundant truck trips. In other cases, waste containers may already be overfilled before the collection schedule, causing unhygienic conditions and the potential for more hazardous emissions.

Wireless IoT sensors can combat these issues by delivering various real-time data on trash receptacles at facility managers’ fingertips. Knowing the current fill level of each container, they can better foresee when one needs to be emptied, as well as understand how much and how quickly each type of waste is being disposed on a daily and seasonal basis. On top of that, temperature and humidity data reveal useful insights into undergoing microbial activities inside individual dumpsters. Having all this information at hand, businesses can optimize the pickup schedule of each waste type for higher efficiency, as well as lower transport costs and environmental footprint. At the same time, they can make informed decisions about the container capacity and location to adapt to the actual demand and avoid unwanted overfills.

4. Fleet Management

There’s an increasing focus on the environmental impact of different fuel types, particularly the affect diesel engines have on air quality. When combined with the ongoing drive to reduce CO2 levels across the board, fleet operators are under more pressure than ever before to make sure their fleet related decisions take environmental factors into consideration.

Location, fuel consumption, idle time, driver behaviour and vehicle health all play a role in the total emissions produced by a fleet. IoT sensors powered by low-power wide area networks provide critical insight into these metrics to better optimize routes, improve driving behaviours and ensure timely vehicle maintenance.

For example, real-time location data allows for more accurate and responsive route planning. This reduces the amount of time vehicles spend idling in traffic, producing harmful emissions. Likewise, IoT sensors can be configured to identify and track sudden acceleration or braking, speeding, high-speed turning, frequent stopping, and slow driving – all of which result in wasted fuel.

5. Smart Water Management

According to MIT Researchers, more than 50% of the world’s population will be living in water-stressed regions by 2050. It’s therefore vital that individuals, companies and municipalities find ways to reduce the amount of water wasted annually. On average 85% of properties waste 35% of their water consumption by means of leaks. At the municipal level, pipe leaks can account for 20-30% of total drinking water. In addition, when factoring in the flood mitigation system, one to two tonnes of material waste per square meter is produced from demolition due to floods. This also makes mitigating water loss essential to reducing the waste that goes into landfill as a result of floods. 

Advances in IoT sensors and wireless connectivity have dramatically lowered the cost of gathering, storing and analyzing data from specific equipment, like pumps or valves, or entire processes like water treatment or irrigation. Sensors can monitor fill levels, control the quality water and be used to detect leaks. For example, by installing leak detection sensors in high-risk areas throughout a building or plant, facility managers can be alerted upon the very first sign of a leak allowing them to take remedial action. Taken a step further, hooking this data into a building management system enables automated responses like shutting off the supply valve or HVAC equipment.

6. Smart Farming

Faced with tough challenges of exploding world population, dwindling arable lands and natural resources, alongside growing extreme climate events, the agriculture sector is under undue pressure. According to the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), worldwide food production will need to increase by 50 percent by 2050 to feed an expected population of nearly 10 billion.

Optimizing farming efficiencies opens the door to a sustainable food production system that can cater to global demand while reducing resource usage and environmental footprint. Powered by granular wireless sensors, smart farming systems deliver real-time data of soil conditions and various external factors that play into crop growth. An analytics platform then processes this data for demand-based, targeted execution of various farming practices like seeding, irrigation, fertilization and fumigation. Having enough reliable data at hand, predictive models can even be developed to help identify and prevent conditions unfavourable to crop health. With IoT technologies, farmers can also monitor their cattle’s well-being and get immediate alerts on the first signs of illness, from anywhere.

Besides reducing inefficient and error-prone human intervention, smart agriculture boosts yields while minimizing chemical, water and other resource utilization. This, in turn, translates into higher production rates at a lower environmental footprint.

7. Cold Chain Monitoring

Roughly one-third of the food produced globally is wasted, with much of that loss occurring along the global supply chain. Overall, that translates to 1.6 billion tons of food, worth about $1.2 trillion, down the chute.

Temperature is considered the most important factor affecting the quality of foods. Improper temperature control and settings in the food cold chain can accelerate the deterioration of food quality, which can increase the generation of food losses and food waste.

Traditionally, personnel along the supply chain have manually read and recorded the temperature of goods to ensure optimal conditions. While this pencil scribble method is highly prone to errors, there also arises the challenge of goods moving through multiple parties (loader, carrier, shipper, and receiver) all of which have a different record-keeping system. This process significantly increases the risk of spoiled products in the event that a log is recorded incorrectly, not on time or unchecked altogether.

Smart cold chains provide end-to-end visibility of the supply chain from production and pallets to cargo and retailers. Wireless IoT sensors can track ambient conditions like temperature, humidity, air quality, light intensity and other environmental factors in any location, from anywhere, 24/7. When a threshold is breached, alerts are triggered in real-time to prompt immediate mitigation and avoid any compromise to the product’s integrity.

While technology has plagued environmental sustainability efforts in the past, it has now become an ally to building a greener planet. The advancements in IoT sensors and wireless connectivity are enabling individuals, companies and government to move to energy-efficient practices, use resources more responsibly and organize processes in ways that reduce or reuse waste.

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Smart Supply Chain Management: 4 Game-Changing IoT Applications

Smart Supply Chain

BehrTech Blog

Smart Supply Chain Management: 4 Game-Changing IoT Applications

Supply chain management (SCM) plays a vital role in every industry; directly contributing to a company’s success and overall customer satisfaction. In previous years, international trade disputes and natural disasters have disrupted supply chain management. These disruptions make a substantial impact – the outcome is expensive at best and catastrophic at worst. They affect a company’s ability to deliver product and drive revenue, and they can easily cause long-lasting brand damage.

COVID-19 has caused another unprecedented setback to supply chain management. 94% of the Fortune 1000 have reported experiencing coronavirus supply chain disruptions. This has created an even more complex challenge as supply chains have become a vital lifeline for distributing essential medical supplies, food and other key necessities where they’re needed most. Not to mention, with the massive shift to e-commerce, retailers are faced with an overwhelming production and delivery process to ensure a seamless online shopping experience.

Challenges in Supply Chain Management

The entire supply chain management process is complex. It involves coordinating across various disbursed, and commonly disconnected supply chain actors like producers, brokers, transporters, processors, retailers, wholesalers, and of course consumers. It often relies on outdated and manual processes to control and monitor a product’s flow from the procurement of raw materials and parts from the beginning of production through delivery to the consumer.

Monitoring and controlling the people, processes, parts and products as they transit through the SCM lifecycle is crucial in order to ensure efficiency, a strong reputation, and increased ROI. Despite the availability of several technological solutions, many companies still lack end to end visibility of their entire supply chain. A supply chain market report says that 63% of organizations have no tech systems in place for monitoring supply chain performance and 46% of supply chain professionals still rely on excel spreadsheets for their operations. This leads to inefficiencies such as missed key dates and milestones, contract lifecycle bottlenecks, issues with tracking deliverables, duplicate orders, failure to place orders and missed payments.

The pandemic has tested the resilience and flexibility of supply chain leaders globally and has highlighted the critical need for a system that is more robust, transparent, agile, and sustainable – but above all, digitally enabled. The Internet of Things (IoT) with new sensor and communications technologies is on the rise towards restructuring the entire process. The power of IoT lies in its ability to continuously monitor, assess and optimize real-time data on all people, processes, and things to provide unprecedented visibility into every process and transaction within the supply chain.

The Role of IoT in Smart Supply Chain Management

1. On-Road Asset Tracking

Supply chains have been transformed beyond recognition over the last year. Curbside pickup, BOPIS (Buy Online, Pickup in Store), shipments to neighbors, smart lockers, as well as direct to consumer (D2C) deliveries by manufacturers have become commonplace. Even perishable goods are in high demand with the advancement of more robust cold chains solutions for categories ranging from pharmaceuticals to meal delivery services. This is creating demand for on-road asset management solutions.

Connected sensors can track items from “floor to store.” There are a variety of IoT sensors that can provide a coherent stream of real-time data on the exact location of an item, how long it took to move between different phases of the SCM lifecycle and even how fast a specific delivery truck is moving. This helps identify bottle necks, allow for contingency planning and determine alternative routes to speed up delivery. It also helps suppliers, manufacturers and distribution centers better prepare to receive goods, which reduces handling times, ensures the efficient processing of material and increases the precision of delivery forecasts for vendors and consumers.

2. Cold Chain Monitoring

Some goods like food and pharmaceuticals need to be stored in ideal conditions. With a smart cold chain, you can monitor, locate, and address any potential errors quickly. For example, environmental sensors can track ambient conditions like temperature, humidity, air quality, light intensity and other environmental factors inside a storage facility, cargo container or delivery vehicle. When a threshold is breached, alerts are triggered in real-time to prompt immediate mitigation and avoid any compromise to the product’s integrity.

3. Warehouse Management

Warehouse errors can be costly. Nevertheless, the absence of an effective inventory management approach is not uncommon. Many businesses still manually track their inventory using spreadsheets and paper-based methods. This approach puts data at risk as Marketwatch estimated that 88% of spreadsheets contain errors. This makes indoor wireless IoT solutions highly instrumental in warehouse management.

IoT can help reduce manual labor, errors, and help increase processing speeds and overall warehouse efficiency. Connected sensors can be used to monitor the movement and use of material, products and other assets inside facilities to maximize their effective use, prevent loss or theft, reduce search time and avoid out-of-stock scenarios.

Connected sensors placed on shelves and storage bins can also communicate stock levels in real time to identify usage patterns. This continual feedback helps streamline coordination between warehouse operations and various logistics providers and can help use space more efficiently.

4. Fleet Management

As the supply chain continues to grow, it’s even more imperative to ensure that all carriers—be it shipping containers, suppliers’ delivery trucks, or a van out for delivery—are connected.  IoT sensor networks can collect information about vehicle usage, speed, emission, location and more. Built-in sensors transmit key health and operational parameters of tires, hydraulics, engine and other components of mobile equipment to enable predictive maintenance.

Telematics sensors can pinpoint under-utilized machinery or excessive idling time to avoid wasted fuel and allow operators to make informed decisions about the optimal size and composition of their fleets. Unauthorized usage outside operational hours can be additionally detected to avoid any tampering or theft attempts. Operators can monitor exhaust emissions to ensure compliance with environmental and safety regulations. 

Sensors equipped with GPS can also give supply chain managers a more accurate estimation of delivery to help reduce wait times at destinations and improve the supply chain workflow.

Finding the Right IoT Connectivity

From location, temperature, humidity, light, movement, handling, speed of movement and other environmental factors, there are numerous IoT sensors that promise to deliver critical business insights for improving supply chain management. The challenge is finding reliable IoT connectivity to ensure this data is delivered accurately, in full and on-time.

Emerging IoT connectivity solutions like Low Power Wide Area Networks (LPWAN) are redefining the possibilities for SCM. Geared for low-bandwidth, low computing end nodes, newer LPWAN solutions offer highly power-efficient and affordable IoT connectivity for any large, structurally complex or remote facility along the supply chain from industrial campuses and warehouses to distribution centres and retail. 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 kilometers while providing deep penetration capability to connect devices at hard-to-reach indoor and underground locations.

2020 has been a challenging year for supply chain management, but it has also presented enormous opportunities for change. Innovative IoT sensors coupled with robust and scalable LPWAN connectivity are enabling a new interconnected and informed supply chain ecosystem that improves operational efficiency, brings more transparency to the communication process, and increases precision planning.

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2021 IoT Trends: 5 Industries Expecting Big Gains from IoT Sensor Networks

2021 IoT Trends

2021 IoT Trends

5 Industries Expecting Big Gains from IoT Sensor Networks

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2021 IoT Trends  

The heart of innovation and maintaining a competitive edge is reliable and accessible data. IoT has made it possible for companies to acquire vast amounts of critical data from their assets, people and processes. This data is the lifeblood of reducing costs, improving efficiencies and providing a safer environment for workers. While IoT isn’t a new concept, deploying massive sensor networks has become more urgent than ever for certain industries. Here are the top 5 industries that can expect big gains from IoT in 2021.   

1. Smart Buildings

Even before the outbreak of COVID-19, the focus on tenant comfort and wellbeing had taken the spotlight in the commercial real estate (CRE) sector in recent years. Realizing that people are the greatest asset in the built environment, companies and owners have turned to IoT and smart building technology to enable a healthy, comfortable and engaging environment. Now, the pandemic is rapidly expediting this trend on a global scale. Smart building technology, especially IoT and wireless sensor solutions, are allowing owners and operators to effectively enforce new building guidelines and protocols, ensuring optimal ventilation, hygiene, distancing and tenants’ wellbeing.

For example, we’ll see a surge in office, retail and hospitality deployments of occupancy sensors that can track the number of people entering, exiting and using specific areas like line ups, waiting rooms, bathrooms, boardrooms, office kitchens etc. This data will be used to pinpoint over and under-utilized areas to streamline janitorial services, ensure safe distancing practices and encourage regular sanitation.

The adoption of Indoor Environmental Quality (IEQ) monitoring solutions will also rise as companies look to measure critical indoor climate factors like air, thermal, acoustic and lighting quality with the goal of enhancing occupant health, improving the quality of life, and reducing stress and potential injuries.

2. Healthcare

Never before is the worldwide healthcare sector under such an enormous strain. Hospitals are fighting to improve the quality of care while essential medical supplies and resources quickly dwindle. COVID-19 pandemic has spurred conversations around the future of IoT in healthcare and how it can safely connect healthcare professionals and patients. But, if we look back before all this happened, the healthcare industry has always been looking for new ways to combat challenges around inefficiencies, supply chain management and operational costs.

There are various IoT technologies delivering unprecedented value in the healthcare industry. Wireless tracking solutions and real-time location systems have stepped in to tackle asset management problems by establishing a real-time map of all critical mobile assets across their facilities – from patient beds and wheelchairs to defibrillators, infusion pumps, ventilators and portable endoscopy equipment. IoT devices assist patients with their medication adherence at home. Sleep monitoring devices can track heart rate, oxygen levels and movements for high-risk patients. Continuous glucose monitoring sensors connect to mobile devices and alert patients and clinicians to changing blood sugar levels.

IoT has opened up a world of possibilities in healthcare, providing invaluable data on patients, staff, facilities and assets. This critical insight not only gives patients more control over their lives and treatment, but improves operational efficiencies so that healthcare professionals can focus more on patient care.

3. Manufacturing

From lowering maintenance costs and enabling new lines of business to improving overall productivity, IoT has become pivotal to maintaining a competitive edge in manufacturing. With new business insights promised from massive-scale sensor networks, it’s no surprise, the Global IoT in Manufacturing market is expected to reach $994 billion by 2023.

In 2020, we saw most companies pivot to remote operations and manufacturing is no different. In addition to ensuring safe, reliable and efficient facilities, companies must contemplate new ways to run their sites. With the loss of onsite workers due to the pandemic crisis— it has become clear the operating model of having everyone in-house needs to change. IoT sensor networks and reliable connected assets are enabling the success of remote operations, like monitoring and maintenance. With real-time data, businesses can better monitor how assets, products and machinery are performing so that they can optimize their use, better anticipate impending failures and identify root causes of issues. Predictive, condition-based maintenance can therefore reduce costly downtime and repairs. With the ability to reduce outages, speed up resolution time and improve uptime, business can also improve customer service, and create new business opportunities and service-level agreements.

4. Oil and Gas

Operating an asset-intensive industry, oil and gas companies are constantly striving to maximize equipment performance and output. As such, it’s no surprise that around 65% of businesses cite optimization and predictive maintenance as the top focus on their IoT radar. Advanced wireless connectivity and low-cost sensors are helping to digitize and enhance assets and processes that used to be disconnected, creating positive impacts on the bottom line.

For example, wireless IoT sensors can monitor field equipment in remote, far flung locations. Any off-spec conditions can be immediately spotted, so informed decisions can be made on when and how maintenance should be executed; increasing equipment uptime and contributing to higher production output.

Moreover, many processes that used to require inefficient manual labor like level monitoring of reservoirs can also benefit from the deployment of wireless IoT sensors to enable effective coordination of task logistics. IoT can also automate on-site supervision and asset monitoring to enhance workers’ health and safety. As fewer field trips are required, employees are less exposed to potential dangers. And even when they need to be onsite, risk can be mitigated as useful insights from IoT sensors allow technicians to better prepare themselves in advance.

5. Agriculture

Faced with tough challenges of exploding world population, dwindling arable lands and natural resources, alongside growing extreme climate events, the agriculture sector is under undue pressure. In a quest to improve yields while minimizing resource usage, global farmers are turning to IoT and precision agriculture practices

The worldwide AgTech market is growing dynamically at 12.8% CAGR and expected to reach around $ 5.5 billion by 2021. Farm activities could produce around 100,000 data points per hectare by merging data sources and using new technologies such as IoT. This data is being translated into actionable knowledge for farmers to enable stable and respectively higher yields with fewer resources like fertilizer, water and energy per ha. Ultimately, this will results in higher profitability and long-term sustainability amidst the growing pressure from climate change.

2021 IoT trends will see massive adoption across numerous industries.

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Drive Precision Agriculture with IoT Soil Monitoring (Interview with Agvolution)

Precision agriculture - IoT Soil Monitoring

BehrTech Blog

How IoT Soil Monitoring Is Driving Precision Agriculture

An Interview with Dr. Munir Hoffmann & Andreas Heckmann from AGVOLUTION GmbH

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Faced with tough challenges of exploding world population, dwindling arable lands and natural resources, alongside growing extreme climate events, the agriculture sector is under undue pressure. In a quest to improve yields while minimizing resource usage, global farmers are turning to the Internet of Things (IoT) and precision agriculture practices. This week, Dr. Munir Hoffman and Andreas Heckmann from AGVOLUTION give the inside scoop on how intelligent solutions like real-time IoT soil monitoring are driving farming efficiency to help combat industry-wide challenges.

[bctt tweet=”In a quest to improve yields and minimize resource usage, global farmers are turning to the Internet of Things (IoT) and precision farming practices.”]

1. Tell us about AGVOLUTION. What are your products and vision, who are your customers?

The objective of AGVOLUTION is the global development, manufacturing and sale of our two core products: first, an energy self-sufficient IoT wireless sensor network named CLIMAVI, which measures soil water and temperature at various depths together with temperature, precipitation and relative humidity aboveground (wind speed is optional); and second, FARMALYZER, a digitized and process-based farm management intelligence solution based on our CLIMAVI data as well as satellite, ground and machine data. FARMALYZER offers customer-specific decision support for long-term agricultural sustainability and higher profitability under increasing climate risk.

Through these products, AGVOLUTION turns Climate-Smart-Agriculture (CSA) vision into real-world farming practices. Our customers are growers of various types (arable, tree nurseries, plantations, horticulture), as well as agricultural advisories and other players in the farming supply chain like seed producers and fertilizer companies. We provide a transparent presentation of the economic cost of each crop management activity, accounting for resource consumption like CO2, to enable input savings of up to 40% on resources like nitrogen, biocides, growth regulator, fuel and water, based on site-specific economic and ecological optimization (per 10 m2).

2. What challenges are facing the agricultural sector today?

Providing sufficient food, plant-based products and fuel for the growing world population is a key challenge in the farming sector, particularly under climate change. For instance, although Germany is known for its stable climate, in 2018 up to 100% yield losses were observed for specific fields. This demonstrates that agriculture has already been severely affected by increasing climate extremes.

Simultaneously, with its “Farm to Fork” strategy, the European Union set the ambitious target to cut CO2 equivalents emissions to half by 2030 – compared to the 1990 level. Likewise, we will face a shrinking resource base in terms of phosphorous and fossil fuels. The Climate-Smart-Agriculture (CSA) approach that adapts farming practices to rising climate extremes while mitigating negative agricultural impacts on the climate, is proposed as the pivotal strategy.


Also Recommended for You: Smart Farming – 5 Ways IoT Helps Us Tackle Global Food Challenges


3. How do you see the role of IoT and precision agriculture in combatting these challenges?

The worldwide AgTech market growing dynamically at 12.8% CAGR and expected to reach around $ 5.5 billion by 2021 (Roland Berger, 2019), might play a key role. Farm activities could produce around 100,000 data points per hectare by merging data sources and using new technologies such as IoT. However, this data needs to be translated into actionable knowledge for farmers to enable stable and respectively higher yields with fewer resources like fertilizer, water and energy per ha. Ultimately, this results in higher profitability and long-term sustainability amidst the growing pressure from climate change.

4. Why is continuous soil monitoring important? In what ways can farmers improve farming efficiency and crop yield with soil data?

The plant growth is largely constrained by water and nutrients, both of which are largely determined by soil processes. Understanding the supply of these resources is critical to managing soil-plant systems, thus optimizing plant growth and minimizing resource waste. Our sensors monitor soil moisture at different depths, which allows for the assessment of total soil water supply. Combing this information with data on soil temperature and other soil properties, we can then model nutrient supply.

In addition, our sensors measure aboveground micro-climate which together with satellite data, is then fed into our in-house AI hybrid model to quantify resource demand. The difference between supply and demand evaluated in economic terms provides the basis for in-season management recommendations.
It’s worth noting that under climate extremes, plants make use of subsoil resources which can only be assessed by soil sensors.

5. Why is there a need for wireless IoT sensors to gather microclimate and soil data?

The weather and especially the microclimate of each field site have a huge impact on the yield and crop production efficiency. Just think about abiotic risks like drought and nutrient availability or biotic risks like plant diseases. All these risks are linked to the microclimatic conditions in the soil and the plant canopy. These conditions are changing rapidly throughout the season and on each field site. Specifically, in horticultural and orchards you want to achieve the optimal quality for consumers and need to know the critical parameters as soon as possible.

If you want to establish those prediction systems and resource-saving decision support, you need an autonomous monitoring system that helps you to identify potential risks and their impact on the yield and quality at each field site. These risks can only be identified by soil sensors, as they are able to provide essential information on determining resource availability for plant growth such as water. Hence, IoT solutions like our CLIMAVI microclimate sensors are paramount for a climate-smart farming system.

6. What are the wireless connectivity requirements in this context?

Wireless sensor networks in rural agriculture need to be energy self-sufficient and require little maintenance. In addition, cellular connectivity is often absent on arable land. As such, Low Power Wide Areas Networks (LPWAN) and specifically MIOTY-based solutions are a perfect option for this use case. They can send data from the sensor node to a gateway placed on the farm over more than 5 km distance and operate for several years without battery exchange.

To reach the best performance, you need to plan your networks prior to hardware installation. We offer our customers full service for network planning including the best position for gateways and field-sensors taking into account agricultural parameters like the geospatial yield potential. LPWAN-based solutions and hardware need to be adapted to your specific use case, so you should always look at the service offerings of the IoT provider.

7. From your viewpoint, what makes MIOTY technology/ MYTHINGS the right solution?

MIOTY is the most advanced LPWAN technology on the market so far, and it is made for demanding industrial applications. MIOTY’s patented Telegram Splitting (TS-UNB) technology enables the lowest packet error rates, even in a crowded spectrum, and operates without being interfered by other networks. Through this approach, more than 1 million devices per network and up to 1.5 million messages per day could be processed. TS-UNB provides robust, scalable and mobile IoT connectivity needed in industrial and agricultural use cases. MIOTY also empowers customers to run their own networks and use the advantages of the Internet of Things in the real world – not only in a laboratory.

BehrTech offers with MYTHINGS a sophisticated management platform for MIOTY LPWA networks to enable device management, cloud/backend integration and network troubleshooting at scale. We see huge benefits of MIOTY and the MYTHINGS platform compared to other LPWAN-technologies.

8. How do you see the precision agriculture trend moving forward?

Much progress has been made in monitoring specific data with remote sensing (water stress, leaf area index) or machines (yields and energy usage per area). However, we could see farmers who were early adopters of these technologies have waived them in recent years, simply because they got drown in the flood of data that does not provide actionable knowledge. A lot of collected data, even yield maps, becomes only useful when integrated with other data sources, analyzed and transformed into comprehensible outputs for the farmer and all machines used within the farm. This way, precision agriculture improves not only resource efficiencies, but also farmers’ productivity.

We believe with the package of CLIMAVI and FARMALYZER, we provide the right tools to collect all necessary data for meaningful decision support while making it easy and time-efficient for farmers to implement precision agriculture practices. Given growing challenges due to climate change and weather extremes, there is little doubt that precision agriculture, specifically site-specific exploitation of soil, climate and management interactions, is the path forward for agriculture.

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Smart Farming: 5 Ways IoT Helps Us Tackle Global Food Challenges

smart farming

BehrTech Blog

Smart Farming: 5 Ways IoT Helps Us Tackle Global Food Challenges

The global agricultural sector is under undue pressure. According to the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), worldwide food production will need to increase by 50 percent by 2050 to feed an expected population of nearly 10 billion. Higher living standards in emerging economies is another amplifier of the explosive growth in food consumption. The challenge is, this pressing issue can’t be solved simply by increasing farming landmass. Intensive agriculture has already occupied around 40% of the earth’s surface and is accountable for a major loss in biodiversity, soil degradation alongside 11% of greenhouse emissions.

So, what are the viable solutions to these global problems? A major shift in our food consumption behavior is imperative, but there are ample opportunities to improve agricultural activities as well. Optimizing farming efficiencies paves the way to a sustainable food production system that can cater to global demand while reducing resource usage and environmental footprint. And, arising innovative technologies like the Internet of Things (IoT) are deemed a catapult for achieving this target. Even if you aren’t in the industry, you’ve probably encountered the term smart farming given its surging traction. But, IoT-based precision agriculture is far more than just a tech buzzword; its compelling prospects have been understood across-the-board. As a simple piece of evidence, investment in AgTech has garnered a 43% year-over-year growth, topping $16.9 billion in 2018.

Why Smart Farming?

So, what makes smart agriculture such an enthralling trend? The short answer is, illuminating data and insights. Traditionally, farmers heavily rely on manual checks to examine the current state of their crop and livestock health. Needless to say, this laborious process incurs significant operational costs while failing to provide a timely and reliable picture of what’s happening on the field. Powered by granular wireless sensors, smart farming systems deliver real-time awareness of soil conditions and various external factors that play into crop growth. An analytics platform then processes this data for demand-based, targeted execution of various farming practices like seeding, irrigation, fertilization and fumigation. Having enough reliable data at hand, predictive models can even be developed to help identify and prevent conditions unfavorable to crop health. With IoT technologies, farmers can also monitor their cattle’s well-being and get immediate alerts on the first signs of illness or theft attempt from anywhere.

Besides reducing inefficient and error-prone human intervention, smart agriculture boosts yields while minimizing chemical, water and other resource utilization. This, in turn, translates into higher production rates at a lower environmental footprint. To explore the game-changing benefits of smart farming in detail, below we delve into some of its top applications.

1. Variable-Rate Application

The use of pesticides and fertilizers is highly tricky, even for the most seasoned farmers. Excessive use causes detrimental impacts on the environment and consumer’s safety while failing to apply treatments could take a heavy toll on production outputs. By installing numerous IoT sensors across the field, farmers can establish an accurate and fine-grained map of the topography, soil conditions (e.g. temperature, radiation, salinity, etc.) and pest levels on a sub-meter level. This allows for on-demand, tailored agrochemical applications to address specific needs of granular farm zones – instead of redundant, harmful blanket spraying or pre-emptive use. What’s more, soil data is highly influential in seeding and sowing decisions and can guide crop growers to the best timing for optimal yields.

2. Irrigation Control

Few of us know that agriculture is the most water-intensive industry with irrigation accounting for 70% of global water consumption. Amid progressive environmental challenges, the sector is prone to a growing water crisis in the foreseeable future. Leveraging soil moisture and weather data, farmers can effectively assess the water needs of discrete crop areas or even individual trees. Integrating this data into sprinkler systems enables automatic, customized irrigation activities to circumvent under- or overwatering for enhanced water efficiency and crop growth. Compared to a conventional, manual system, a smart irrigation system is expected to save up to 45 percent of water in the dry season and a startling 80 percent of water during rainy periods. Besides the substantial water conservation benefit, wireless sensors also help remotely monitor water tank levels – particularly at remote, logistically-difficult locations – to ensure seamless water supplies.

3. Livestock Management

As with crops, smart farming technologies are further instrumental in keeping livestock health in check. When it comes to large herds, anomalies or reproductive signs of individual animals often go unnoticed. Thanks to livestock wearables, farmers can now easily keep track of vital metrics of each animal – including temperature, respiration, geo-location and grazing activity. With the help of an analytics platform, they are instantly notified of any ongoing illness and distress to perform timely care and treatment and augment the herd’s well-being. Sensor inputs additionally inform about the heat cycle and calving process of each cow to improve conception rates and cattle reproduction health. Likewise, location data eases herd management at vast open fields and helps ranchers quickly detect animal thefts or find lost ones.

4. Storage Monitoring

Each year, an astonishing amount of 1.6 billion tonnes of food is wasted worldwide, much of which happens earlier in the supply chain due to poor infrastructure. In this context, IoT sensors can report temperature, humidity and other important parameters inside grain silos and elevators. As such, crop growers can stay alert to any abnormal storage conditions and take corrective action to minimize spoilages at the beginning of the food chain. At the same time, data on current stock levels assists in logistics coordination to avoid silo overfills and crop waste. Similarly, for containers storing livestock feeds, sensor insights enable farmers to optimize refill schedules and eliminate costly emergency deliveries.

5. Advanced Farming Practices

Beyond conventional farming approach, scientists and crop growers are striving for new agricultural innovations to combat the food shortage challenge. Offering unprecedented crop visibility, precision agriculture technologies are powerful enablers of new sustainable farming practices such as vertical farming, organic farming or agroecology. Vertical farming, wherein vegetation is planted in vertically stack layers, provides higher yields at much lower land and water requirements and is ideal for urban environments. To ensure consistent and healthy crop growth, these indoor farms entail very strict management of micro-climate factors like light, temperature and air quality using a wide array of wireless sensors. Likewise, agroecology and organic farming, wherein the use of agrochemicals is drastically reduced or abandoned altogether, requires round-the-clock monitoring of vulnerable crops for effective pest and disease control.

Also recommended for you: 4 Benefits of Smart Greenhouse and How to Get Started

Conclusion

Thanks to low-cost sensors and new wireless options like Low Power Wide Area Networks (LPWAN), granular data collection across large-scale farmland has never been so simple and affordable. Combined with other technologies like agricultural drones, IoT sensor networks empower farmers with increased control over their crop and livestock quality alongside resource utilization. Beyond profitability, IoT for precision agriculture will be a key component in our future sustainable food system.

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This study will prove that MYTHINGS delivers significantly higher interference resilience than LoRa technology

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IoT in Renewable Energy: 4 Ways to Optimize A Solar Farm

IoT in Renewable Energy

BehrTech Blog

IoT in Renewable Energy: 4 Ways to Optimize A Solar Farm

Amid growing environmental issues, the energy sector is undergoing significant transformation with a rapid transition towards sustainable power resources. According to the Guardian, global supplies of renewable electricity could increase by 50% in just five years. Unsurprisingly, a surge in the low-cost solar energy is predicted to be the key driver of this growth. As a vast, clean and inexhaustible alternative to fossil fuels, solar power will be an integral part of our future energy grids. With the scale of solar farms quickly ramping up, energy companies need a new approach to managing their assets and ensuring a smooth integration of renewables into the grid. Expanding applications of IoT in the power sector could be a powerful force in this journey.

Challenges of Utility-Scale Solar Farms

Installing and running a utility-scale solar farm is a huge project. While regarded as a relatively mature technology, photovoltaic (PV) solar energy still comes with high unpredictability. Any changes in weather conditions like solar radiation and ambient temperature could cause fluctuations and instability in power outputs. This increases pressure on the grid to maintain consistent electricity supply. As such, continuous environmental monitoring at solar farms is vital to ensure an accurate forecast of power generation rates and respective adjustments in the grid.

Dependence on external conditions isn’t the only hurdle of large-scale solar operations. To optimize the overall efficiency of a solar farm, each panel must operate at peak capacity. Measuring total power outputs of the farm isn’t an issue. However, recording what’s happening at individual modules has been challenging, especially with hundreds or even thousands of on-field PV panels. Wired sensors are common among existing monitoring systems, but the high hardware and installation costs limit a scalable deployment. Therefore, even if inefficiencies are pinpointed on a network level, it’s difficult for operators to trace their root causes. The lack of visibility also causes maintenance to be done either too late or too frequently.

Optimize Solar Farm Operations with IoT in Renewable Energy

Today, IoT technologies have made a breakthrough in remote monitoring to help energy companies better manage their solar power production. Reduced sensor costs and the emergence of innovative connectivity now enable simple and affordable deployment of granular monitoring networks at large-scale solar farms. With such a network, operators can collect critical external and production parameters panel-by-panel and easily access this data from a central user interface. This opens compelling possibilities to improve the efficiency and reliability of solar energy systems.

1. Improved Asset Performance

By combining different data like solar radiation, temperature, wind speed, dust levels and energy outputs of individual panels, grid managers can uncover low-performing units and potential causes. This helps optimize reparation and maintenance planning to enhance asset performance. For example, reduced energy outputs combined with high particle levels in the air could indicate panel soiling and suggest more regular cleaning schedules. Likewise, low efficiencies of individual modules could reveal insulation, configuration and alignment issues.

2. Enhanced Worker’s Productivity

With the granular visibility, technicians can instantly locate and troubleshoot error sources, instead of wasting time inspecting every single panel. What’s more, automated data collection reduces field trips to only maintenance and reparation purposes, freeing up technicians’ time for more important tasks.

3. Effective Production Forecast

Beyond reactive response, the benefits of IoT for renewable energy also include better production forecasts and improved grid stability. With enough historical data at hand, energy companies can apply analytical and predictive models to calculate power generation rates under given weather conditions. As such, they can anticipate how much solar energy can be produced on a certain day, and how other energy resource inputs should be adjusted for demand-supply balance in the grid.

4. Theft and Vandalism Prevention

An IoT-based monitoring system is also a powerful tool to help protect solar panels against theft and vandalism attempts, especially in rural areas. For example, IoT sensors can detect suspicious movements around a panel or if it is dismantled from the supporting structure. An alarm can then be automatically triggered for operators to timely intervene.

Low Power Wide Area Networks (LPWAN) for IoT in Energy

While there are a plethora of wireless standards and protocols today, not all are designed to support granular IoT monitoring systems. You want a solution that is reliable, scalable, but also cost-effective to support the vast number of end points on a utility-scale solar farm. To ensure easy setup and maintenance, devices should be able to operate on independent batteries for years. At the same time, the whole network must allow for straightforward integration into your existing IT environment.

Low Power Wide Area Networks (LPWAN) have established their stand in the smart metering sphere, but their largest potential lies in remote monitoring scenarios. And, the solar sector certainly has its share in this. By providing the packet size and data rates that are aligned with telemetry use cases, LPWANs bring distinct advantages in terms of range, power and costs. With a robust and scalable technology, you can stay on top of your solar systems and seamlessly connect new assets as your business grows. Also, a private, software-driven LPWAN architecture can help you keep data privacy and ownership issues at bay.

Find out more: What is LPWAN?

The potential of IoT in renewable energy is boundless, particularly with the rise of solar energy. Leveraging innovative connectivity like LPWAN, the future smart grid could be fueled with critical data on energy supply for effective load balancing and demand responses. What’s more, grid managers can attain full visibility into energy production on a unit level and understand how individual assets are performing. This altogether facilitates a smooth transition towards a sustainable, renewable-driven energy grid.

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MYTHINGS Smart Sensor: 10 Powerful IoT Applications

smart sensor

BehrTech Blog

MYTHINGS Smart Sensor: 10 Powerful IoT Applications

This week, we announced the release of the MYTHINGS Smart Sensor, a demo platform to demonstrate MYTHINGS’s long-range, robust and power-efficient IoT communication. The MYTHINGS Smart Sensor is not just a powerful pilot test tool; with our reference design offering, it is also available for mass production and full-scale IoT deployments.

The MYTHINGS Smart Sensor is a self-contained, battery-powered unit with multi-sensing capabilities including accelerometer, temperature, humidity, pressure and GPS sensors. But, its most intriguing feature is that you can tailor these sensing functions to your specific needs. Depending on your use case, any of the sensing units can be switched off accordingly to drastically reduce power consumption and improve battery life. On top of that, the sensor also provides the option to collect custom payload through an open serial interface, delivering great deployment flexibility.

The Smart Sensor can be either affixed to an existing object or system to collect condition data (e.g. machine vibration and temperature, asset movement etc.) or installed as a stand-alone unit to collect your preferred ambient data. There are numerous scenarios where the sensor will prove to be a valuable part of your IIoT initiative and help you to improve processes and asset utilization, reduce costs and enhance safety. Here are 10 powerful IoT applications that can be enabled by the MYTHINGS Smart Sensor.

1. Indoor Climate Regulation

Thermal and humidity comfort is a major contributor to employee productivity at both commercial and industrial workplaces. The problem is, while temperature and humidity distribution are uneven across a large building, heating and cooling settings are often uniform and do not reflect actual indoor conditions. This could lead to occupancy discomfort and excessive HVAC use and energy waste. With the MYTHINGS Smart Sensor, you can capture real-time room temperature and humidity readings on a micro-zone level to accurately regulate the HVAC system within a large facility. Constant indoor climate monitoring also helps detect bottlenecks like a malfunctioning furnace or air conditioner at distinct building zones.

2. Machine Health Monitoring

Machine vibration can reveal a lot about its current health status and issues such as misalignments or loose parts. Using the accelerometer in the MYTHINGS Smart Sensor, you can constantly monitor vibration patterns of critical equipment to identify potential damage and execute maintenance in good time. Another way you can use the Smart Sensor to ensure machine health is by keeping air moisture in check. High humidity can cause condensation and corrosion in equipment, while overly an arid atmosphere can lead to frictions in electronic components. Monitoring and maintaining the room humidity within the industry-suggested range of 35% and 65% can help keep these problems at bay.

3. Optimization of Production Processes

Environmental conditions have a significant impact on industrial. For example, in auto manufacturing, fluctuating temperatures can cause inconsistent fluid injection or impact the quality of 3D printed components by accelerating the cooling phase. Continuously measuring ambient temperature and humidity on the shop floor helps circumvent unwanted environmental changes that potentially disrupt your production. Combining machine vibration and ambient data with recorded process parameters further unveil hidden inefficiencies that lower production output.

4. Cold Chain Monitoring

Beyond the production stage, many perishable products in industries like pharmaceutical and food and beverage, require a strictly controlled storage condition. By installing the MYTHINGS Smart Sensor in your storage facility, you can ensure the relative temperature and humidity are within the ideal range to avoid property distortion and optimize product lifetime. Continuous observation of the thermal trend also enables you to quickly pinpoint and act on issues such as, a door unintentionally left open or a cooling equipment failure.

5. Off-Road Fleet Management

Management of vehicles distributed over a large industrial premise can be a great challenge. Older fleets often come with limited, if no telematics ability at all. In this context, MYTHINGS Smart Sensors provide you a versatile option to IoT-enable your fleet without a costly overhaul. Simply attach the sensor on your vehicle and collect its vibration/acceleration data for analysis of moving, idling and engine-off time. With this visibility, you can uncover fuel waste sources due to excessive idling, or detect unauthorized vehicle uses outside the operational time. Having information on actual vehicle utilization at hand, you can also make strategic, informed decisions on the fleet size and composition.

6. Temperature Control in Data Centers

At a data center, excessive heat released from servers can shorten their lifetime by overloading inner fans, increasing energy use and even imposing fire risk. Due to the dynamic heat emission, measuring the overall temperature is less of a concern, but more importantly identifying specific hot spots within the server room. Low-power MYTHINGS Smart Sensors enable you to collect granular, rack-by-rack temperature data to create an accurate data center heat map for effective control measures.

7. Asset Tracking

Knowing where your assets allows you to streamline operations and improve productivity. With its GPS function, the MYTHINGS Smart Sensor can collect position data of any distributed asset on your industrial campus. In indoor environments, GPS signals can be unstable. Here, air pressure and accelerometer readings can help determine vertical and horizontal movements to a certain extent. This enables dead reckoning calculations from knowing the last GPS location.

8. Anti-Theft Protection

The accelerometer in the MYTHINGS Smart Sensor can also be a great instrument for anti-theft protection. For example, it can inform you if an important asset that should be stationed is moved. Just install the sensor on your critical asset and get notified when a suspicious movement is detected.

9. Intrusion Detection

Besides theft detection, the Smart Sensor can be part of your IoT-enabled security system to detect intrusion at night, outside operational hours or in areas with restricted access. By affixing the sensor to the outer edge of a door, acceleration of the door can be measured when it opens. Having an emergency workflow set up, an alarm can be then triggered to inform you of the potential intrusion.

10. Electrical Fire Safety

Electrical failures are the leading cause of fire incidents across commercial and industrial facilities. While useful in detecting overheating caused by circuit issues, infrared inspections of electrical panels and cabinets are typically done on an annual basis. This leaves power systems unattended for most of the time. With a Smart Sensor permanently fixed to the electrical enclosure; you can keep an eye on thermal changes in your distributed power system round-the-clock. Elevated temperatures can quickly be diagnosed for counteraction to prevent fire hazards.

MYTHINGS-Smart-Sensor

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4 Benefits of Smart Greenhouses and How to Get Started

Smart Greenhouses

BehrTech Blog

4 Benefits of Smart Greenhouses and How to Get Started

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Amid climate change, dwindling resources and increasing population, the global farming industry has come under significant pressure. As the unpredictability intensifies, it’s no surprise that growers are turning to advanced technologies to boost production efficiency and crop resilience. In agriculture, the Internet of Things (IoT) is more present than ever before, and smart greenhouses are a stellar example.

A greenhouse provides a controlled environment customized to the vegetation needs cultivated inside. Traditionally, micro-climate and agronomic parameters have been recorded in a rather manual and inconsistent manner. There’s a limit to what can be measured, and farming practices are executed on a pre-defined, speculation-based schedule. On the other hand, weather changes throughout the day and “invisible” conditions like open doors or early-stage infection constantly influence the greenhouse environment and threaten to damage crops.

[bctt tweet=”Smart greenhouses are bringing together conventional agricultural systems and new IoT technologies for complete visibility and automation.”]

4 Benefits of Smart Greenhouses for Crop Growers

Equipped with modern sensor and communications technologies, smart greenhouses automatically capture and deliver information 24/7 on the surroundings and crop. Collected data is fed into an IoT platform where analytical algorithms turn it into actionable intelligence to uncover bottlenecks and abnormalities. Accordingly, HVAC and lighting operations, alongside irrigation and spraying activities can be regulated on-demand. Continuous data monitoring facilitates the development of predictive models to assess crop disease and infection risks.

By unlocking massive crop insights, a smart greenhouse allows growers to minimize labor work, improve efficiency in resource and chemical use while optimizing yield rates.

Smart Greenhouses


Also Recommended for You: [White Paper] Unleashing the Power of Environmental Monitoring in the Digital Age


1. Maintain Ideal Micro-Climate Conditions

IoT sensors allow farmers to collect various data points at unprecedented granularity. They provide real-time information on critical climate factors including, temperature, humidity, light exposure and carbon dioxide across the greenhouse. This data prompts relevant adjustments to HVAC and lighting settings to maintain the best conditions for plant growth while driving energy efficiency. In parallel, motion/acceleration sensors help identify doors that are unintentionally left open to ensure a strictly controlled environment.

2. Enhance Irrigation and Fertilization Practices

In addition to ambient parameters, smart greenhouses enable farmers to stay on top of their crop conditions. This ensures irrigation and fertilization activities are on par with the actual needs of cultivated plants for maximized yields. For example, readings on soil volumetric water content indicate whether crops are under water stress. Likewise, measurements of soil salinity give useful insights on fertilization requirements. Based on this data, sprinkler and spraying systems can be automatically turned on to address real-time crop demands while minimizing manual intervention.

3. Control Infection and Avoid Disease Outbreak

Crop infection is a persistent farming challenge, with every outbreak taking a heavy toll on the crop margins. Agrochemical treatments are available at hand, but farmers often don’t know the best time to apply them. Applications done too frequently raise ecological, safety and cost concerns, while failing to use treatments could lead to detrimental disease outbreaks. With the help of a machine learning platform, data on greenhouse environments, external weather and soil characteristics reveal valuable insights into existing risks of pest and fungi. Leveraging this information, farmers can apply treatments exactly when needed to ensure a healthy crop at the lowest chemical expense.

4. Prevent Thefts and Improve Security

Greenhouses with high-value crops are a vulnerable target for thieves. As traditional surveillance networks with CCTVs are expensive to implement, many growers don’t have an effective security system in place. In this context, IoT sensors in smart greenhouses provide an affordable infrastructure to monitor door status and detect suspicious activities. Connected with an automated alarm system, they instantly notify growers when a security issue arises.

Building Blocks of a Smart Greenhouse

So, what does it take to implement a smart greenhouse? There are a few key factors you should take into account:

a) Low-energy, battery-operated sensors to capture various climatic, agronomic and security data points

b) Reliable, cost-effective wireless connectivity to transmit data from cross-greenhouse sensors to a remote gateway

c) A diagnostic, machine learning platform to derive intelligence from sensor data and visualizes it on preferred UIs to make informed decisions on farming activities. The platform can also be integrated directly into existing greenhouse control systems to trigger automatic actions on HVAC, lighting, sprinkler and spraying networks.

Dispersed over large geographic areas, commercial-level greenhouse complexes call for long-range wireless connectivity with strong penetration capability. Besides providing reliable data transfer, such a solution allows a gateway to be installed closer to the power source to reduce wire trenching. Scalability is another factor to consider, as it minimizes the number of gateways needed to save on hardware, installation and management costs. Above all, the connectivity must be highly power-efficient so that sensors can sit in for years with minimal maintenance involved.

With a forecasted market value of more than US$ 1 billion by 2024, smart greenhouses are no doubt a major farming trend to watch. A smart greenhouse brings conventional agricultural systems and new IoT technologies together for complete visibility and automation. It helps pinpoint inefficiencies and combat issues that have long plagued farming operations to protect crops and maximize yields.

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Top 10 IoT Sensor Types & How They’re Being Used

IoT-Sensors

BehrTech Blog

Top 10 IoT Sensor Types 

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Sensors are everywhere. They’re in our homes and workplaces, our shopping centers and hospitals. They’re embedded in smart phones and an integral part of the Internet of Things (IoT). Sensors have been around for a long time. The first thermostat was introduced in the late 1880s and infrared sensors have been around since the late 1940s. The IoT and its counterpart, the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), are bringing sensor usage to a new level.

Broadly speaking, sensors are devices that detect and respond to changes in an environment. Inputs can come from a variety of sources such as light, temperature, motion and pressure. Sensors output valuable information and if they are connected to a network, they can share data with other connected devices and management systems. 

Sensors are crucial to the operation of many of today’s businesses. They can warn you of potential problems before they become big problems, allowing businesses to perform predictive maintenance and avoid costly downtime. The data from sensors can also be analyzed for trends allowing business owners to gain insight into crucial trends and make informed evidence-based decisions.

Sensors come in many shapes and sizes. Some are purpose-built containing many built-in individual sensors, allowing you to monitor and measure many sources of data. In brownfield environments, it’s key for sensors to include digital and analog inputs so that they can read data from legacy sensors.

There are many types of IoT sensors and an even greater number of applications and use cases. Here are 10 of the more popular types of IoT sensors and some of their use cases.

[bctt tweet=”IoT sensors have become critical to improving operational efficiency, reducing costs and enhancing worker safety.”]
IoT-Sensor - Temperature

1. Temperature Sensors

Temperature sensors measure the amount of heat energy in a source, allowing them to detect temperature changes and convert these changes to data. Machinery used in manufacturing often requires environmental and device temperatures to be at specific levels. Similarly, within agriculture, soil temperature is a key factor for crop growth.

IoT Sensor - Humidity

2. Humidity Sensors

These types of sensors measure the amount of water vapor in the atmosphere of air or other gases. Humidity sensors are commonly found in heating, vents and air conditioning (HVAC) systems in both industrial and residential domains. They can be found in many other areas including hospitals, and meteorology stations to report and predict weather.

IoT Sensor Pressure

3. Pressure Sensors

A pressure sensor senses changes in gases and liquids. When the pressure changes, the sensor detects these changes, and communicates them to connected systems. Common use cases include leak testing which can be a result of decay. Pressure sensors are also useful in the manufacturing of water systems as it is easy to detect fluctuations or drops in pressure.

IoT Sensor Proximity

4. Proximity Sensors

Proximity sensors are used for non-contact detection of objects near the sensor. These types of sensors often emit electromagnetic fields or beams of radiation such as infrared. Proximity sensors have some interesting use cases. In retail, a proximity sensor can detect the motion between a customer and a product in which he or she is interested. The user can be notified of any discounts or special offers of products located near the sensor. Proximity sensors are also used in the parking lots of malls, stadiums and airports to indicate parking availability. They can also be used on the assembly lines of chemical, food and many other types of industries.

IoT Sensor Level

5. Level Sensors

Level sensors are used to detect the level of substances including liquids, powders and granular materials. Many industries including oil manufacturing, water treatment and beverage and food manufacturing factories use level sensors. Waste management systems provide a common use case as level sensors can detect the level of waste in a garbage can or dumpster.

IoT Sensor Accelerometer

6. Accelerometers

Accelerometers detect an object’s acceleration i.e. the rate of change of the object’s velocity with respect to time. Accelerometers can also detect changes to gravity. Use cases for accelerometers include smart pedometers and monitoring driving fleets. They can also be used as anti-theft protection alerting the system if an object that should be stationary is moved.

IoT Sensor Gyroscope

7. Gyroscope

Gyroscope sensors measure the angular rate or velocity, often defined as a measurement of speed and rotation around an axis. Use cases include automotive, such as car navigation and electronic stability control (anti-skid) systems. Additional use cases include motion sensing for video games, and camera-shake detection systems.

IoT Sensor Gas

8. Gas Sensors

These types of sensors monitor and detect changes in air quality, including the presence of toxic, combustible or hazardous gasses. Industries using gas sensors include mining, oil and gas, chemical research andmanufacturing. A common consumer use case is the familiar carbon dioxide detectors used in many homes.

IoT Sensor Infrared

9. Infrared Sensors

These types of sensors sense characteristics in their surroundings by either emitting or detecting infrared radiation. They can also measure the heat emitted by objects. Infrared sensors are used in a variety of different IoT projects including healthcare as they simplify the monitoring of blood flow and blood pressure. Televisions use infrared sensors to interpret the signals sent from a remote control. Another interesting application is that of art historians using infrared sensors to see hidden layers in paintings to help determine whether a work of art is original or fake or has been altered by a restoration process.

IoT Sensor Optical

10. Optical Sensors

Optical sensors convert rays of light into electrical signals. There are many applications and use cases for optical sensors. In the auto industry, vehicles use optical sensors to recognize signs, obstacles, and other things that a driver would notice when driving or parking. Optical sensors play a big role in the development of driverless cars. Optical sensors are very common in smart phones. For example, ambient light sensors can extend battery life. Optical sensors are also used in the biomedical field including breath analysis and heart-rate monitors.

Industrial Wireless Sensor - MYTHINGS Smart Sensor

MYTHINGS IoT Sensor

The MYTHINGS Smart Sensor is a self-contained, battery-powered multi-purpose IoT sensor that allows you to capture critical data points like acceleration, temperature, humidity, pressure and GPS. The smart sensor is integrated with the MYTHINGS Library – a hardware independent, small-footprint and power-optimized library of code, featuring the MIOTY (TS-UNB) low-power wide area network protocol. Learn more.

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