Connectivity – overcoming the challenges of the industry 4.0.
This article is contributed by Carlos Tejedor, Technical Leader of Smart Metering at Idrica.
Over 10 years ago, the reading of water meters located outside homes was a major breakthrough. However, this achievement has been already superseded by technologies providing a reading frequency of less than one hour, and progress is being made to read water consumption in real time.
In this process, the evolution of communication technologies has played a key role. At the beginning of this century, proprietary protocols constrained the options of instrumentation and connectivity that could be chosen, when one of the two elements had already been implemented.
Fortunately, protocol standards such as OPC, ModBus and MQTT have become the norm over time, as well as new LPWAN communication technologies (Lora, SigFox, NB-IoT), compatible with any manufacturer. As a result, we can now select the instrumentation and communications independently, making it possible to choose the most appropriate option for each project. Our motto is that technology is not bad or good, but suitable or unsuitable, depending on the client’s needs.
During this process, connectivity operators have become more relevant, and collaboration between companies and operators has become essential for each digitization project. With this in mind, at Idrica we have established strong partnerships with leading companies in IoT, for the commercialization of our technology, providing turnkey solutions. The first worldwide communication test for NB-IoT was conducted from one of our water meters in Valencia (Spain), which shows our strong commitment to this evolution.
When we talk about connectivity, it is necessary to put into context the importance of transforming data into information. Yes, we cannot talk about connectivity without talking about IoT, but neither does it make sense to talk about IoT without considering Big Data or Cloud Computing.
Currently 90% of companies collect data from their sensors and business processes, but only 10% of them use it properly. In order to transform information into knowledge, and finally into business intelligence, it is necessary to implement a system of data intake and processing, regardless of suppliers or communication protocols.
Thanks to its agnostic approach, our GoAigua platform is scalable with future communication technologies or protocols (5G), anticipating trends in connectivity. In addition, it connects with the rest of the business processes of the entire water cycle, transversally. After all, there is no point in having state-of-the-art connectivity if the architecture of the technological solution in place is not capable of ingesting and processing all those millions of data with sufficient speed.
The digital transformation of processes, driven by the coronavirus pandemic, is a must. Society is increasingly demanding a better management of water, one of our most precious resources.
At Idrica we put our experience into the service of utilities, supporting them in their digitalization through innovative technological solutions. Our GoAigua platform provides a holistic view of the entire water cycle, helping companies make more efficient decisions.