Can we use »LoRa« in harsh industrial environment?

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Can we use »LoRa« in harsh industrial environment?

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Can we use »LoRa« in harsh industrial environment?

Salonit Anhovo, with its 90 years tradition, is Slovenian biggest producer of cement. Cement is the basic material for making concrete, which is widely used in all construction businesses. Salonit specializes in the areas of hydraulic cement, special cements, lime, mineral raw materials, aggregates and also others.

Naturally, the cement industry is a huge consumer of energy and as such is very dedicated to development of new technologies and energy consumption optimization. Also being an environmentally and energy savvy company, they thought of a complex Energy management project and partnered with the only partnered equipped to do the job.

The project consisted of first – introduction of Energy monitoring systems and second – Energy optimization into the cement factory.

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The first part presented as a challenge immediately. The industrial environment in the factory is harsh with a lot of dust particles, high humidity and greased areas. Also the industrial area is huge; spread over 6 km, so ordinary wired system would not be the right solution. We knew, that in this large industrial area LoRaWAN communication was the only good alternative to the classic wired system.

For energy logging we used our newly certified device ComBox.L ™  – battery powered device that runs on LoRaWAN wireless communication network. ComBox.L ™ We have extended our existing LoraWAN network to cover the industrial site and installed heavy-duty gateways and communication devices on the site. To efficiently connect energy meters to the network we used LoRa as a carrier network.

Salonit Anhovo consumes more than 90 GWh of electricity per year, more than 8 GWh of gas and more than 400.000m3 of technological water. All energy consumption amounts to more than 6 mio EUR per year.

Salonit Anhovo d.d. uses several energy sources, which meant that measurements for electricity, gas, compressed air and technological water had to be taken. To make measurements even tougher all water meters are located underground.

We have installed 36 LoRaWAN devices out of which 11 are for gas metering, 10 are for water metering, 5 for compressed air and 10 are used for electricity meters. The rest of metering was done via conventional methods and were hardwired to communication devices Combox.M, that is also produced by Solvera Lynx.

Hardwired measurements using Combox.M:

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LoRaWAN water consumption metering:

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LoRaWAN gas consumption metering:

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LoRaWAN compressed air consumption monitoring:

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LoRaWAN electricity consumption monitoring (retrofitting old cabinets):

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Combox.L communication devices are collecting data from meters in regular 15 minutes intervals and transmitting measurements via »LoRa« network to gateways, which then transmits measurements to EMS (Energy management system). This is all done using standard LoRaWAN communication protocol.

Data is collected and analyzed in our own Energy management software Gemalogic.

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So to come back to the title question: Can we use LoRa and LoraWAN in harsh industrial environments?

Yes we can!

Marko Šepič has been serving as Chief Technical Officer in Slovera Lynx d.d. for the last 8 years and has vast experience with R&D projects dealing with hardware and software. He has also lead and participated in several energy efficiency related project. His background is on electrical engineering, focusing on process information technology.

By Marko Šepič

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