Semiconductor supplier, Semtech Corporation, has integrated its LoRa Wireless RF Technology into the Port of Cork’s LoRaWAN-based Internet of Things (IoT) network.
The technology, which Semtech says features GPS-free geolocation capabilities, is being used by Ireland’s second busiest port to track shipping containers. The entire IoT network solution was designed by Net Feasa, an IoT network service provider.
Ireland reaping the LoRaWAN rewards
Semtech is already hard at work in Ireland, working on a LoRaWAN network infrastructure as part of the country’s Pervasive Nation project. This move is, therefore, a natural progression of that network.
For those less familiar, LoRaWAN is a global specification created by the LoRa Alliance to support low-cost, mobile, secure bi-directional communication for the IoT, smart city and industrial applications. It is optimized for low-power consumption and to support large networks with millions and millions of devices.
The Port of Cork IoT network solution enables LoRa-equipped sensors with Semtech’s geolocation, placed in shipping containers, to detect the opening and closing of the containers’ doors, monitor the temperature of heat-sensitive cargo, and provide end-to-end tracking of each container.
The information captured from these end points is passed to LoRa-based gateways which transmit the data to a network and application server for processing, providing real-time information and automated alerts on cargo status to both merchants and port personnel via computer or mobile device.
A cost-effective Semtech solution?
Semtech claims the sensors do not require GPS and use batteries that last up to 20 years, rendering this a cost-effective tracking solution for customers that use the Port of Cork.
In a statement, Marc Pegulu, VP & GM, Wireless and Sensing Products Group at Semtech, noted the benefits of a solution that tracks large volumes of shipping assets at a minimal cost.
“LoRa-equipped sensors use very low power which means the batteries can last several years while providing ongoing tracking of important cargo location information to freight companies,” he said. “In addition, one LoRa-based gateway has the capacity to handle millions of messages, allowing the tracking solution to scale quickly regardless of increases in port shipping volumes.”
Who’s next to benefit?
Internet of Business sought out the expert of opinion of Tom Rebbeck, research director, digital economy, at Analysys Mason for a better understanding of who else could benefit from this technology.
Rebbeck told us: “As LoRa uses unlicensed spectrum and is low cost, it is relatively easy for sites like ports (but also factories, mines and so on) to build their own networks for dedicated solutions. There are a number of other similar LPWA networks using LoRa and other technologies using unlicensed spectrum. Before it rebranded as Ingenu, On Ramp Wireless’ core business was providing these sort of networks for industrial clients, with a number of customers in the energy sector.
“The complexity of managing logistics at ports makes them well suited to having a network for IoT solutions. Hamburg Port is probably the best-known example of this, where IoT is used to coordinate between ships and trucks and avoid congestion in the port itself (the port is – amongst other solutions – using SAP’s HANA platform – Ed).
“A challenge for any of these solutions is scale – ideally all ports would be using the same technology and so that the data from a container could be transmitted wherever it was in the world. Clearly we are a long way from having that scale right now,” Rebbeck concluded.