What’s the right IoT hardware for your network?

When local councils and water authorities want to digitise their water networks, there is a lot for them to consider. The Chief Technology Officer of Kallipr, Freddie Jansen van Nieuwenhuizen, understands the potential pitfalls of not planning.

When local councils and water authorities want to digitise their water networks, there is a lot for them to consider. The Chief Technology Officer of Kallipr, Freddie Jansen van Nieuwenhuizen, understands the potential pitfalls of not properly planning IoT hardware purchases.

Freddie Jansen van Nieuwenhuizen is the Chief Technology Officer of Kallipr. He is responsible for the business’s overall technology enablement and R&D to ensure Kallipr products and services convergence through the Internet of Things (IoT) devices. As such, he drives an integrated technology roadmap that promotes sustainable growth and a vision to incubate new areas of value creation.

“I started my life as an electronic and electrical engineer but pivoted early in software engineering. Throughout my career, I’ve been exposed to all sorts of projects where I’ve had to integrate embedded software into mechanical systems and hardware, particularly for harsh and challenging environmental conditions,” said Jansen van Nieuwenhuizen.

Preparing IoT hardware for physical environments

Jansen van Nieuwenhuizen spoke about several different aspects for councils and water authorities to consider when preparing to digitise their water networks.

“The strength and durability of the IoT hardware installed in the field is the most important factor,” he said. “Councils must consider the expected life of the hardware device in the deployed environment. This impacts the economics of such a deployment. Manufacturers require significant R&D, discipline and accelerated testing to deliver a design that can meet a five to ten-year life span.”

It is not just the device cost but, even more importantly, the installation of the device. Jansen van Nieuwenhuizen said that the upfront cost of the device is often less than all the costs and overall effort associated with a site visit.

“One of our most fundamental design considerations and objectives at Kallipr is how to minimise truck rolls for our customers,” said Jansen van Nieuwenhuizen. “If a device is installed incorrectly, that almost certainly will require a repeat truck roll to fix the device installation. It’s a critical cost driver for councils and water authorities.”

Another aspect that councils and water authorities need to consider is the physical environment where the device will be installed and the key factors that could impact the life of
the device.

“Temperature, water and gasses within sewer need to be carefully considered and understood,” he said. “When you investigate those conditions, you quickly realise that temperatures can exceed 60 degrees Celsius. Councils and water authorities must also consider water submersion depth and duration. They need to understand the gasses and liquids because it is crucial to selecting the right IoT hardware solution for these harsh conditions.”

Preparing other aspects of digitising your network

The other side of the coin for Jansen van Nieuwenhuizen is that careful consideration should be given to an operational system’s overall economic model and business case. There are three key considerations to balance – what data, how often and for how long.

“Councils and water authorities must balance data collection and battery life. Trade-offs must be made to ensure the IoT solution meets the business case expectations,” said Jansen van Nieuwenhuizen. “Users must consider the data collection strategy alongside the battery life and operating costs. If data is not needed in near real-time, adopt a weekly schedule to extend your device’s life. In essence, select the appropriate device for the use case and design the business model from day one.”

For example, the Captis device can capture 10-second samples and transmit this data every 15 minutes. However, the battery would need replacing without an external or solar power source within a year. Adjusting the sample and transmit frequency will extend the battery life beyond five years.

Another consideration is ensuring the field installations are done correctly, following a “do it right the first time” approach.

“At Kallipr, we provide comprehensive installation guidelines that consider environmental factors,” he said. “It’s critical that devices are installed where there is little potential damage or interference by humans and animals. They also need to get the best possible signal. Optimal signal quality for operating thresholds provides the best possible opportunity for maximising battery life.”

People and animals mostly do not intend to harm devices. However, installing the device in such a location to safeguard against the unintentional boot or garden tool with these devices will save you a truck roll in the future.

Scaling up from pilot to full scale

Finally, one of the biggest challenges is scaling up from pilot to full-scale programs. A full-scale roll-out of a digitised water network requires conscious investment in infrastructure and resources by councils and water authorities as it needs a whole-of-organisation examination.

“Consideration should also be given to backend infrastructure, processes and systems beyond what was used in the pilot programs,” he said. “This includes consideration for on-prem, cloud, or third-party stacks and solution providers, including security and privacy policies to account for the deployment.’

Selecting the proper IoT hardware comes down to having an excellent understanding of the environmental conditions across all sites, a strong business case, and transparent consideration of future deployments and how the solution works at scale.

“At Kallipr, we want to ensure our devices are the toughest, most rugged, most flexible, and most long-lasting on the market. We test our devices in extreme conditions. Most importantly, we work directly with customers to identify environmental impacts. It’s why we future-proof our devices for further deployments. Our ultimate goal is for the devices to be sent into the field and not looked at again for years.’

For more information, visit kallipr.com

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