Efficient Plant April 2019 - 19

feature | information technology
» The ability to transmit more data means
more battery drain from wireless
sensors.

EMERGING TECHNOLOGY
New technology that offers the advantages of a
mesh network while overcoming its disadvantages is emerging. LoRa, or long-range wide
area network (WAN), transmits data at
900 MHz over distances as great as seven
miles. This long-range ability eliminates the
need to purchase receivers, repeaters, or the
additional sensors that are required for other
networks.
With LoRaWAN, equipment sensors connect directly to a gateway. Since LoRaWAN
uses a single gateway to connect as many as
10,000 wireless sensors, facilities don't have to
worry about large network footprints, complicated installations, or high costs. LoRaWAN
gateways are about the size of a conventional
home router and can reduce the cost of hardware infrastructure by 50%.
LoRaWAN also enables two-way communication from the sensor to the gateway and
allows personnel to connect to equipment
sensors and check battery levels or change
asset data parameters from anywhere in the
world.
Perhaps the most exciting aspect of
LoRaWAN is that it is based on an opensource protocol, so any manufacturer can
develop sensors and other supporting
equipment. More manufacturers in the space
mean more innovation and lower costs. It also
means end-users won't be bound to technology from a specific device manufacturer.
One downside is that LoRaWAN isn't built
to transmit the amount of data required for
full-spectrum analysis. Device manufacturers
are already finding ways to overcome this
limitation. As an example, instead of sending
full-spectrum equipment data across the
wireless network, OEMs are incorporating
processors that perform the analytics in the
sensors themselves. Since the data is analyzed

APRIL 2019

within the sensor, only the analysis-not the
data-is sent over the LoRaWAN.

BOTTOM LINE
Asset-health monitoring and predictive
analytics require sensors to transmit data over
long distances. Industrial operations have a
variety of options for doing so. Each comes
with advantages and disadvantages. New tech-

nology is on the horizon that could overcome
many of the problems with existing networks,
but they'll require device manufacturers to
reconsider how they capture and analyze
performance data. EP
Information in this article is based on a
whitepaper from Flowserve, Irving, TX.
(flowserve.com).

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Efficient Plant April 2019

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