Glass Specialist Weha-Therm Keeps Track of Racks with Box ID’s IoT Solution

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The Challenge

Glass and window manufacturers, like the German market leader Weha-Therm, use special transport racks to deliver high-value, fragile products, to customers. Once shipments are received, customers return the empty racks. Getting a precise, up-to-date view of the entire asset fleet to optimise operational processes is challenging, as racks may be mishandled, not returned on time, or lost. Weha-Therm wanted to solve this problem with real-time location information on all its transport racks.

The Solution

Weha-Therm implemented a solution from BOX ID Systems to remotely track individual racks in real-time. The end-to-end IoT location tracking solution, enabled for the Sigfox 0G Network, includes tracking devices and a specialised data analytics platform. The solution provides 100 percent transparency to racks, anytime and anywhere across Europe and globally. Fitting maintenance-free devices with many years of battery-life was easy and cost-effective.

The Results

Weha-Therm achieved real-time visibility to its racks across logistics processes. The data insights enables optimisation of operational efficiencies:

  • reduced loss and theft ratios.
  • higher rack fleet utilisation.
  • timely and predictable returns of empty racks.
  • reduction of manual processes and bottlenecks in rack management.
  • automatic continuous inventory for optimal planning and load carrier optimisation.
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0G Network Operator, Heliot Europe

As the exclusive Sigfox 0G Network Operator, Heliot Europe owns and operates the national 0G Network covering Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Liechtenstein, and Slovenia that is suitable for the vast majority of all loT applications.

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Solution Partner, BOX ID

BOX ID Systems offers end-to-end IoT-enabled location monitoring solutions to cost-effectively track millions of logistics assets through the global industrial supply-chain, including site-to-site, on-premises and inside buildings.

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Customer, Weha-Therm

Weha-Therm is a trusted industry partner and market-leading German specialist manufacturer of high-quality insulating and single glass products, combining advanced production processes with a team of unmatched expertise.

For decades, Weha-Therm Isolierglas GmbH & co. KG has been a trusted industry partner and market-leading German specialist manufacturer of high-quality insulating and single glass products spanning 8,000 different categories. Weha-Therm combines advanced production processes with an outstanding team of unmatched expertise to deliver customer service based on flexibility, expertise, speed, and foresight.

Franky Cosaert, CEO, Weha-Therm says, “Flexible, reliable and fast delivery is one of the key success factors of our business.”

Weha-Therm uses racks specially designed to transport fragile, high-value glass products. Once the goods are received at the destination, the customer returns the empty racks.

Ensuring the right number of racks are in the right location at the right time is essential for optimal manufacturing, efficient operations, and a great customer experience. However, the day-to-day management of the entire asset fleet is challenging, as racks are often not returned on time, are mistakenly misdirected, or lost.

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Weha-Therm’s vision was to overcome these challenges and increase operational efficiency with an IoT-enabled track and trace solution to provide access to timely location information across its entire rack fleet. The challenge was to find the right end-to-end IoT solution, which required reliable devices, with many years of battery-life, connected to a low-cost national network, and a data platform capable of delivering location insight to support decision-making with accurate information.

An economically viable and operationally scalable IoT solution

After an in-depth evaluation, Weha-Therm chose the BOX ID Systems solution. All transport racks were fitted with inexpensive IoT tracking devices that record the current location and all rack movements, transmitting the data via the global Sigfox 0G Network.

The battery-operated trackers have a maintenance-free service life of up to seven years and are easily retrofitted to existing racks. Installation requires only a few minutes to screw the trackers to the racks. BOX ID System’s platform turns the data into actionable insights and tracks the entire fleet of racks in real-time.

Data is accessed using an easy-to-use web application. The data platform offers many extra functions that simplify rack management, such as the automatic creation of a continuous fleet inventory showing each asset’s location and its associated customer information.

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Based on the exact information of racks, Weha-Therm can address the customer in a targeted manner. Misunderstandings can also be prevented about the length of stay or the number of returned racks.

Christian Trösch, Head of Sales, Box ID Systems

BOX ID Systems delivers real business value for Weha-Therm:

  • The overall loss ratio of racks is significantly reduced.
  • Customer mishandling, such as using racks for their own purposes, are easily and instantly identified and actioned..
  • Cumbersome, manual, error-prone tracking processes are replaced with automated, remote-monitoring requiring no on-site staff.
  • Higher rack utilisation rates and faster rotations reduce the need for capital expenditure.

The Heliot Europe 0G Network: Reliable connectivity over a low-cost, low-power, long-range wireless network

Heliot Europe is the exclusive Sigfox 0G Network Operator in Germany, Austria, Switzerland and Slovenia, and is part of the global 0G Network.

The 0G technology is a critical component of BOX ID System’s asset tracking solution. Sigfox, the world’s leading IoT service provider, pioneered low-power network connectivity specifically for the many applications made possible when devices can operate and communicate for years without needing a replacement battery.

The 0G Network, powered by Sigfox, harnesses ultra-narrowband technology to support connectivity solutions that improve existing business cases and enable a new range of opportunities for businesses across all industries. It delivers out-of-the-box, two-way, secure communication services to unlock the true potential of the Internet of Things (IoT).

For Weha-Therm, the ability of the 0G Network to support two-way communication over long distances outdoors as well as indoors, and enabling many years of battery life for the tracker device, was crucial.

BOX ID Systems offers unique benefits, including:

  • retrofit solutions for existing rack inventory
  • Europe-wide and global tracking with long-life trackers
  • easy access to location information via a web-based application
  • automated, continuous inventory management.

A key to the successful development of the solution was a close collaboration between all parties: Weha-Therm, Box ID Systems, and Heliot Europe. The solution is now being deployed elsewhere in Europe by several other production and logistic companies.

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With the Box ID solution, we have an overview of our rack inventory at all times. That transparency and flexibility has truly had a positive impact on our business.

Daniel Freund, CEO, Weha-Therm

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IoTree and Thinxtra Help Hongkong International Terminals Use the IoT to Monitor Data Centre Conditions to Ensure Smooth Operations at the World’s Largest Port

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Hongkong International Terminals Limited (HIT) is one of several key container port operators in the Port of Hong Kong owned by Hutchison Port Holdings, the largest port operator globally. Established in 1969, HIT has continuously set industry benchmarks for productivity, efficiency and value-added services using modern management techniques, state-of-the-art computer systems, and award-winning IT applications.

The Opportunity

Operating the world’s largest port demands reliable data centre services 24×7. Temperature and humidity are critical for optimal data centre performance. The temperature in server rooms must be kept between 20 to 21 Celsius (67 to 71 degrees Fahrenheit) and relative humidity must be kept between 40 and 60 per cent.

HIT needed a solution to monitor temperature and humidity in its data centres across nine different terminals at the Port of Hong Kong, spanning an area of approximately 2.7 km².

The Solution

HIT chose IoTree to develop an IoT-enabled solution to remotely monitor server room temperature and humidity. IoT sensors installed in each data centre monitor conditions inside the room and share that condition information in near real-time to a centralised web portal, via the Thinxtra 0G Network, powered by Sigfox. Building managers use insights, created with the server room condition data, on the web portal to monitor the environment and make decisions. If temperature or humidity reaches inappropriate levels, the IoTree solution instantly alerts the building management team to take corrective actions. IoTree created a custom feature to alert building managers of unacceptable conditions via a messaging platform.

IoTree partnered with Thinxtra to connect the IoT sensors to the long-range, low-power, reliable 0G Network which provides low cost indoor and outdoor connectivity covering 90% of Hong Kong. Other wireless technologies proved too expensive to scale or suffered from coverage gaps and faulty connectivity across the long distances at the port.

The Benefits

Since deploying IoTree’s IoT solution to remotely monitor data centre conditions over Thinxtra’s 0G Network, HIT has achieved:

  • effective 24×7 monitoring of the HIT server room’s temperature and humidity levels inside server racks
  • fast corrective action through instant alerts when abnormal temperature and humidity levels are detected
  • rapid detection of building assets needing maintenance to support ideal temperature and humidity levels.

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About IoTree

IoTree is a Hong Kong-based IT services company that specialises in IoT Services. Our mission is to build integrated IoT ecosystems for our clients and incorporate those ecosystems into our client’s operations to maximise operational efficiency. IoTree provides the best integrated IoT solutions to our clients, leveraging our dedicated team of technology experts, developers, and designers. IoTree provides a complete solution to support your IoT journey.

Visit IoTree’s website for more information.

IoTree and Thinxtra Reinvent Rodent Control at the Yeung Uk Road Market with IoT-enabled RATSENSE Digital Rodent Surveillance

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The Yeung Uk Road public market is a New Territories market popular with the local community. Operating over three floors, the market houses over 200 different stalls offering fresh seafood, meats, fruit, vegetables, and other grocery items.

The Opportunity

Rodent populations are common in areas where food is prepared or sold in large quantities. The Government wanted a fast, reliable solution to monitor rodent activity and target treatment to help protect the community, and property, from the disease and damage caused by rats and mice. Early trials using thermal cameras to track rodent activity proved the value of technology to monitor infestations but were cost-prohibitive to use widely.

The Solution

The Government chose IoTree to deploy the IoT-enabled RATSENSE digital rodent surveillance solution because of the ease and speed of installation, and because of the remarkable rodent reduction rates achieved by other RATSENSE users. Once sensors are installed, they can be instantly connected to the national Thinxtra 0G Network. IoTree placed 130 sensors in the floor, ceiling, and other concealed locations to capture data on rodent movements around the market. Once the data is captured, it is used to build insights that are shared with building managers via a customised web portal and mobile application. Insights built with real-time data let building managers quickly pinpoint infestations and activities to target treatment for efficient, rodent reduction, using fewer toxins.

The Benefits

Deploying the IoT-enabled RATSENSE digital rodent surveillance solution lets IoTree help the Yeung Uk Road market:

  • save time and money by needing fewer manual inspections to find infestations and monitor traps
  • remove the guesswork from rodent detection and specifically target treatment
  • reduce the use of harmful rodenticides in the market
  • protect the market’s building from rodent damage
  • provide a safer, cleaner customer environment.

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Pest Control Solution and Case Studies

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About IoTree

IoTree is a Hong Kong-based IT services company that specialises in IoT Services. Our mission is to build integrated IoT ecosystems for our clients and incorporate those ecosystems into our client’s operations to maximise operational efficiency. IoTree provides the best integrated IoT solutions to our clients, leveraging our dedicated team of technology experts, developers, and designers. IoTree provides a complete solution to support your IoT journey.

Visit IoTree’s website for more information.

Hong Kong’s EMSD Improved Theatre Occupancy and Guest Well-Being with an IoT Solution Provided by IoTree, in Partnership with Thinxtra, The IoT Telco

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The Electrical and Mechanical Services Department (EMSD) is a Hong Kong government department responsible for inspecting and enforcing the operation and safety of electricity and gas installations, railways and trams, lifts and escalators, amusement rides, working platforms on building sites, and more.

The Opportunity

The EMSD operates a 390-seat theatre inside the Hong Kong Heritage Museum. The theatre is a multi-purpose theatre hosting Cantonese opera, musical performances, lectures, seminars, ceremonies and multimedia presentations. The EMSD needed a dependable solution to improve occupancy management within the theatre to optimise the use of the environment and react in a timely manner to changing social distancing requirements in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Solution

IoTree and Thinxtra collaborated on an IoT-enabled solution to remotely monitor and track the tilt of each seat to assess occupancy in real-time. IoT sensors installed in the back of the seat remotely monitor how the angle of the seat changes, which indicates that the seat is occupied. Data captured by each sensor is shared over the Thinxtra 0G Network to a centralised data console. Insights on the console let building managers easily monitor temperature and ventilation inside the theatre to improve guest comfort and wellbeing. Seat occupancy is also mapped to the theatre’s floor plan and shown on a screen in the lobby so guests can check seat availability at-a-glance.

The Benefits

Since introducing IoTree’s IoT-enabled occupancy management solution, connected with Thinxtra’s 0G Network, the EMSD has achieved optimal occupancy in its theatre and guests have enjoyed a comfortable, safe, well-ventilated, temperature-controlled environment without any manual on-site monitoring procedures.

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About IoTree

IoTree is a Hong Kong-based IT services company that specialises in IoT Services. Our mission is to build integrated IoT ecosystems for our clients and incorporate those ecosystems into our client’s operations to maximise operational efficiency. IoTree provides the best integrated IoT solutions to our clients, leveraging our dedicated team of technology experts, developers, and designers. IoTree provides a complete solution to support your IoT journey.

Visit IoTree’s website for more information.

IoTree and Thinxtra Partner to Help Hong Kong’s Construction Industry Council (CIC) Assure Student Wellbeing and Comfort with an IoT-enabled Smart Campus Solution

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Hong Kong’s Construction Industry Council (CIC) strives for unity and excellence in the local construction industry. The CIC supports construction in Hong Kong by providing a communication channel to share the industry’s needs and aspirations to the Government and giving the Government a way to solicit industry advice.

The Opportunity

The CIC runs a dedicated construction training campus in Sheung Shui. On-site, students perform hands-on construction activities, which can expose them to risks such as inhaling toxins and fumes. To assure student safety and wellbeing, the CIC wanted a cost-effective, reliable solution to optimise airflow, improve ventilation and manage temperature levels.

The Solution

IoTree partnered with Thinxtra, The IoT Telco, to select and deploy IoT sensors at the Sheung Shui campus to monitor indoor temperature, humidity, TVOC and fine particulate matter (PM2.5) levels. When unacceptable levels are reached, the IoT sensors across the campus send alerts, via the Thinxtra 0G Network, powered by Sigfox, to the building manager so action can be taken to increase ventilation in the area.

The Benefits

IoTree’s IoT-enabled environment monitoring solution, connected with the Thinxtra 0G Network, lets CIC assure student wellbeing and comfort by providing:

  • reliable, always-on, remote monitoring and management of the temperature, humidity, TVOC and PM2.5 levels in the campus
  • the ability to steadily maintain optimal indoor climate conditions
  • a rapid alert system to address issues as fast as possible
  • Independence from manual on-site monitoring procedures.

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More IoTree Case Studies

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About IoTree

IoTree is a Hong Kong-based IT services company that specialises in IoT Services. Our mission is to build integrated IoT ecosystems for our clients and incorporate those ecosystems into our client’s operations to maximise operational efficiency. IoTree provides the best integrated IoT solutions to our clients, leveraging our dedicated team of technology experts, developers, and designers. IoTree provides a complete solution to support your IoT journey.

Visit IoTree’s website for more information.

Africa’s Smartest Cities

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Africa was the fastest urbanising continent in the world prior to the arrival of Covid-19. Are smart cities the solution to its rapidly urbanising population?

Africa is still the planet’s most rural continent, with a mere 40% of the sub-Saharan region’s population living in cities. Even the sprawling and bustling heartlands of Cairo and Kinshasa, teeming with traffic, pollution, inadequate public services, are in their relative infancy and on the brink of a growth spurt.

In short, Africa, like any other part of the world, needs to plan for the future if it is to keep up with its predicted and expected future.

One idea that appears to be gaining traction are newly-developed satellite “smart cities,” manifesting themselves in ambitious multibillion dollar, hyper-liveable hi-tech cities populated with bustling, beautified boulevards, private condos and luxury cars.

Of course, money, culture, location and other factors mean smart cities around the world can be very different from one country to the next.

French telecommunications giant Orange has long been a major player in Africa …

There is no difference in the core aim of building a smart city in Africa to anywhere else in the world.

Keith Matthews,
South Africa country manager and sub-Saharan Africa sales director, Orange Business Services

Keith Matthews, country manager for South Africa and sales director sub-Saharan Africa Orange Business Services, says wherever it’s located, a smart city must be intelligent, connected, agile, sustainable and innovative.

“There is no difference in the core aim of building a smart city in Africa to anywhere else in the world,” he says. “The smart city uses IT and digital technology extensively to improve the quality of life of citizens, and to boost the economic attractiveness and tourism potential for local authorities and companies.” Matthews adds that smart cities improve lives through everything from mobility solutions to sustainable energy and smart grids. “However, they are dependent on the free, frictionless and efficient flows of data – this is what really makes cities ‘smart’ – supported by embedding and integrating key sophisticated technologies into the core of the city. Critically, smart cities should essentially be designed around human needs (human-centricity) and built on a foundation of trust,” he says.

Ben Roberts, group chief technology and innovation officer Liquid Intelligent Technologies, the pan-Africa technology firm formerly known as Liquid Telecom, says cities in the world fall into three categories. “Very old and have evolved and expanded over centuries for example, Rome,” he adds. “ A new and planned city such as Milton Keynes in the United Kingdom, my own hometown, which was built from scratch and where everything has been planned and implemented to a blueprint. Cities/towns/even villages that have grown very fast such as Nairobi whose census results show the city has moved from a population of 2.2 million in 2000 to almost 5 million today. In Africa however, Nairobi is dwarfed by the mega cities of Kinshasa and Lagos with populations of almost 15 million.”

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Nairobi is dwarfed by the mega cities of Kinshasa and Lagos with populations of almost 15 million.

Ben Roberts,
Group chief technology and innovation officer, Liquid Intelligent Technologies

Under its previous identity as Liquid Telecom, it spent the last decade building our fibre network which stretches 100,000 km from Cape Town to Cairo across 13 countries.

Roberts adds that the arrival of millions of urban-dwellers has created problems for unplanned cities around the world both in terms of infrastructure and capacity. That said, he opines that African cities have an advantage over many older overseas cities for a number of reasons. One is a lack of legacy infrastructure and systems means that African cities can start with the latest technology available – evidenced in telecoms where countries leapt to 3G, 4G and 5G rather than invest in fixed networks. The second, he says, is a young population combined with an entrepreneurial zeal.

“Our young people have the same aspirations as their foreign counterparts – to have fulfilling and well-paid employment, good housing, healthcare, education, access to the digital economy etc.,” Roberts continues. “However, Africa’s key ingredient is its ‘Can Do’ attitude and the ability of its people to innovate and create home-grown solutions to the continent’s problems.”

Third, Roberts says, problems that affect the entire population of a city. “No matter how rich or poor you are in Nairobi, poor air quality affects us all which focuses the attention of government ministers,” he adds. “However, this concept of the ‘smart city’, where technology and machine-to-machine (M2M) communications are leveraged to measurably improve the quality of life and efficiency of communities, can only succeed if connectivity is reliable and effective.”

The paragon for many observers is Eko Atlantic in Lagos, Nigeria, built on land reclaimed from the sea, which is expected to house 250,000 people once completed. Hope City in fellow west African nation Ghana is slated to feature the continent’s tallest skyscraper.

Rwanda, a regional leader in developing “smart cities,” published a Smart Cities Blueprint in May to help foster the use of technology in urban management. The continent needs to find ways of improving urban life.

In 2017, Finnish gear-maker Nokia and regional development firm SRG collaborated with the government of Rwanda to deploy smart city technology in Kigali to improve the lifestyle and social sustainability of citizens. At the time, Mohamed Abdelrehim, head of solutions and business development, for Nokia in Middle East and Africa market, said the project was in line with the company’s vision to use technology innovation to create social sustainability and make people’s lives better and safer.

The city has since developed into an enviable example of a smart city, according to Roberts. “Kigali in Rwanda stands out as one of the cleanest and well-run capital cities in the region,” he says. “And this is no coincidence, as it has institutionalised an agenda of urban planning and zoning with the aim to become a smart city at the heart of this.”

Liquid itself has been carrying out a lot of work in the Kenyan capital Nairobi, the headquarters for its east African operations, which it uses as a testbed for most of its pan-African services.

“Nairobi is a city with a number of challenges, with perhaps traffic queues being the most obvious to visitors and residents alike,” Roberts explains. “Large strides towards making Nairobi a smart city have been made in recent years with installation by the government of an extensive network of CCTV cameras and smart traffic lights in certain areas.”

Liquid began by building and operating a robust smart city infrastructure for Nairobi. This comprises of a city-wide fibre optic metro backbone, which connects all major buildings and office parks, and serves to connect many communications towers. Roberts says this further enables multiple MNOs to offer 100% 4G and emerging 5G coverage in the city, along with ISPs that provide affordable uncapped data using fibre to the home and Wi-Fi last mile technologies.

It’s no secret that air pollution is a particular problem in Kenya with the World Health Organization declaring that it is the fifth largest cause of deaths and disability across the country.

Roberts says this pollution is caused by substantial increases in traffic levels, construction of high-rise buildings and new industrial activities releasing fine particulate matter into the air. “Poor refuse removal services result in citizens burning plastic and other garbage on roadsides which is also a major contributor,” he continues. “To help provide reliable data about air pollution, our IoT air quality system has been rolled out across 3000 sites in Kenya following a trial in Nairobi. The sensors provide detailed neighbourhood measurements of airborne pollutants every 2 minutes. This information is freely available to anyone via a simple dashboard.”

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Liquid has enabled a successful precision farming deployment, now in its 3rd year of operation, in partnership with Twiga Foods at its Takuwa Farm, just outside Nairobi. The results have been an increase in yield of crops such as onions, as well as decrease in input costs, and the project recently won an IoT technology award at the East AfricaCom conference.

Head further north to Egypt and just outside Cairo, you’ll find the New Administrative Capital (NAC), a large-scale project that has been under construction since 2015. It’s one of the projects for economic development, which forms part of a larger initiative called Egypt Vision 2030. Orange has long been a major player in Africa and Matthews, says the NAC is “a truly visionary project and offers a glimpse into the high-tech future” of Egypt.

“Orange already has a huge amount of experience of operating in the region. We have developed several smart city projects across the Middle East, such as in Saudi Arabia and the UAE and Orange has a long history of operating in Egypt in particular,” he says. “Because of this, our knowledge and understanding of the environment will allow us to fully adapt the design of the infrastructure to the needs of the new city. The NAC is set to become Egypt’s new financial and administrative capital, housing the main government departments and ministries as well as foreign embassies. It will be built based on five main pillars: safety, connectivity, integration, digitalisation and replicability.”

When it comes to comparing NAC with other African smart cities, Matthews says its distinctive feature is that it is a greenfield project and concept consisting of an entirely new city, designed and built from scratch, whereas most of the other African smart city projects consist of deploying smart solutions in existing cities or districts. “The scale of the NAC presents its own challenges, and the solutions, priorities and operations deployed there will be different to other smart city projects across Africa,” he adds.

As far as Nairobi is concerned, Roberts says it lacks a smart city plan but has all the elements of a smart city organically coming together. He adds that the purpose and mission of such a master plan could be a road map to coordinate the smart city activities of central and county governments, private sector companies, along with NGOs and civil society.

“Completely new cities in Africa like Tatu City and Konza Technopolis, both in Kenya, are being constructed from the ground up as tech-enabled smart cities from day one with an aim to be the pinnacle of modern living in Africa,” continues.

Nevertheless, even with access to the right technology, infrastructure and with enough funding it’s been said that smart cities can only make sense if put in the broader picture of giving every African citizen the right to basic services. Is that a fair comment?

Roberts says that using technology and data-driven systems to solve real-life problems is both pragmatic and cost-effective in the long-term.

“Many African economies are driven by agriculture and Kenya is no exception,” he says. “Outside of the large cities we are seeing smart technology being used in many ways to improve services. In the agricultural sector, Liquid is looking at ways that tech can enable precision farming in agriculture and in aquaculture.”

Roberts cites examples of how Liquid, using the Sigfox 0G network, has enabled a successful precision farming deployment, now in its 3rd year of operation, in partnership with Twiga Foods at its Takuwa Farm, just outside Nairobi.

The results have been an increase in yield of crops such as onions, as well as decrease in input costs, and the project recently won an IoT technology award at the East AfricaCom conference.

“In the extreme western side of Kenya, Liquid has deployed sensors in Lake Victoria to help grow the yields of Tilapia fish farmers,” says Roberts. “It is certainly my dream that the enablement of Agri-Tech will not only make a noticeable impact on the GDP of African countries but will also offer a bright future to the tech savvy youth who are born in rural areas to remain in their communities implementing technology for rural income generation, instead of heading to the cities in search of jobs.”

For Matthews, smart city projects can help facilitate the delivery of services to citizens and help improve the quality of life for growing urban populations, giving more people easier access to local services and information. “A smart city is a complex ecosystem with an array of vertical activities, including digital solutions to improve access to health, facilitate mobility, enhance security… all coordinated by the smart city integrated operations and security centre, providing safe city and digital living services and experiences,” he says. “Every smart city is a unique network of integrated services that may grow and develop organically over time as new use cases emerge and then evolve, supported by new bursts of innovation. The key to success is embedding intelligence, integrating sophisticated technologies, including IoT and artificial intelligence to make use out of the massive amount of data generated across the smart city.”

In fact, Matthews goes on to say that as a result of a growing number of people living in cities, smarter cities can help improve the quality of life for citizens and create new opportunities to innovate. He says that Africa has the advantage of relatively little legacy infrastructure and so can move forward faster. “By making a city smart, the urban digital ecosystem can bring new opportunities for the creation of new jobs and small businesses, and also for existing companies to develop their business – creating added value for urban populations,” Matthews adds. “Smart city solutions can also help ease traffic congestion, improve the information on city services available to residents, and help make areas safer through smart lighting and surveillance, and enhance the efficiency of utilities and energy consumption. Making a city smart and listening to people’s needs and ideas can empower the population and help city administrators make the right decisions.”

While Africa has its problems, just like every other continent, it is at least addressing them by embracing new technology and adopting wireless connectivity where and when it can. This can only lead to a very bright and smart future.

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water-link Eliminates Manual Meter Reading and Reduces Leakage with Hydroko’s 0G Enabled Smart Meters and Valves

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The Challenge

Like all water utilities water-link, which serves more than 640,000 customers in Antwerp, faces challenges to get accurate and timely data on water consumption when meters are read manually, and to detect leaks. But it has another challenge. It is required to turn off the water supply and read the meter whenever a residential customer leaves a property, then turn it on when a new occupant moves in. And Antwerp has a high residential turnover rate.

The Solution

water-link selected Belgian company Hydroko to develop smart meters and smart valves that communicate over Belgium’s Sigfox-powered 0G Network operated by ENGIE M2M.
This enables meters to be read every day, water to be turned on and off remotely, leaks and reverse-flow to be detected, and supply to be restricted in response to non-payment of bills or general water scarcity caused by long periods of drought.

The Results

water-link has deployed 190,000 smart meters and valves, connecting all residential households in Antwerp:

  • Increased billed water usage by 2%
  • Detected 4,000 leaks and 375 backflow incidents
  • Reduced water consumption for 18% of customers
  • Real-time online access to consumption information for all residential customers.
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0G Network Operator, ENGIE M2M

ENGIE M2M is the exclusive Sigfox 0G Network Operator in Belgium, and offers a wide range of IoT solutions. With coverage of 99 percent of Belgium, it is the country’s first national IoT network.

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Solution Partner, Hydroko

Hydroko develops and manufactures innovative valves and other custom-made smart solutions for water companies. Hydroko teamed up with leading Danish smart meter manufacturer, Kamstrup.

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Customer, water-link

water-link is a Belgian water company serving over 640,000 customers in Antwerp with a focus on customer service providing reliable water supply in the easiest way possible.

water-link is a Belgian water utility supplying 640,000 residents across 190,000 households in Antwerp. Residential customers were required to read their water meters and send the reading to water-link. This meant it was getting readings only every one or two years, and with no guarantee of accuracy. water-link was also unable to detect water loss through leakage and fraud, which across water utilities globally averages 34 percent. It now receives an alert whenever there are irregular consumption patterns. Loss reduction is also important with water becoming an increasingly scarce resource. Detecting backflow, which can pollute the water supply, was also very difficult.

Franky Cosaert, CEO, water-link says, “Digital meters … open up lots of opportunities for water-link, which will improve our efficiency.”

water-link knew that remotely-readable smart meters and remotely-controllable smart valves could solve all these problems, but there was no commercially available technology.

Challenges to find an economically viable and operationally scalable IoT solution

Faced with the challenges of relying on residential customers to provide meter readings and with the costs of having to manually shut-off and turn on supply to residential premises for every change of occupancy, water-link calculated that, for a solution to be commercially viable, installation would have to be possible in about 10 minutes and the device would need to operate without needing maintenance or battery replacement for at least 16 years.

Hydroko identified Kamstrup’s ultrasonic meter as the perfect meter to combine with its smart valve. By adding 0G Network connectivity to their meter, Kamstrup was able to tick all the boxes Hydroko needed to complete their solution.
Using ultrasonic measurement technology meant that the meter was natively digital and required no analog to digital data translation. It also had no moving parts which excluded normal wear and tear associated with mechanical meters. Furthermore, issues typically encountered with pulse counting were eliminated.

In addition, it was possible to perfectly fit the combined meter and valve in the same space where previously the meter alone was installed. This decreased installation time significantly.

Annelies Gebruers, team leader, customer service, water-link says, “Now that we get easy access to consumption data, we can optimise the way we handle questions from end-users and eliminate resources for following up on missing readings.”

Another advantage was the built-in alarms the meter featured to allow the detection of various incidents, such as leaks, bursts, tampering, backflow or freezing temperatures. Combined with the Hydroko smart valve, the result was an innovative solution which led to the first large-scale deployment of connected water meters in Belgium.

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The ENGIE M2M Sigfox 0G Network:
Reliable connectivity over a low-cost, low-power, long-range wireless network

The ENGIE M2M 0G Network is part of the global Sigfox 0G Network.

The 0G technology is a critical component of water-link’s smart meter and valve system. Sigfox pioneered the low-power connectivity specifically for the many applications made possible when devices can operate and communicate for years without needing a replacement battery.

The Sigfox 0G Network harnesses ultra-narrowband technology to support connectivity solutions that improve existing business cases and enable a new range of opportunities for businesses across all industries. It delivers out-of-the box, two-way, secured communication services to unlock the true potential of the Internet of Things (IoT).

The network’s ability to support two-way communication over long distances in outdoors, indoors and underground and with limited space for antennas was crucial.

The ENGIE M2M Sigfox 0G Network was key to the viability of water-link’s metering project, because it was the only IoT communication technology able to:

  • Operate with a fixed per-meter connectivity cost
  • Guarantee fixed power consumptio
  • Guarantee 16 year battery life

A key to the successful development of the solution was close collaboration between all parties: water-link, Hydroko, ENGIE M2M and Kamstrup. The technology is now being deployed elsewhere in Europe by several other water utilities.

A key to the successful development of the solution was close collaboration between all parties: water-link, Hydroko, ENGIE M2M and Kamstrup. The technology is now being deployed elsewhere in Europe by several other water utilities.

Franky Cosaert, CEO, water-link

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0G UN is the Global Association of 0G Network Operators, powered by Sigfox, the world’s leading IoT service provider.

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Lykus’ Wyave Solar-Powered Security Cameras Scale Globally with IoT Cellular Connectivity from Thinxtra, Powered by Soracom

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About Lykus Technologies

Lykus Technologies, founded in 2015, designs and manufactures the Wyave range of outdoor solar powered security cameras for a global market.

The Challenge

Deliver residential users a hassle-free, one-stop-shop solution to set up, and connect security cameras easily without the need to buy, install and activate a SIM card.

The Benefits

Thinxtra’s cellular IoT network solution, powered by Soracom, ships with the security camera, and provides easy, global coverage at low cost, with true pay-as-you-go pricing.

Lykus Technologies provided indoor and outdoor security cameras, relying on traditional power supplies, for more than ten years. In 2018, the company launched its new, innovative Wyave range of solar-powered digital security cameras. In 2019, following its successful launch in domestic China markets, Lykus started to scale globally, with an initial focus on the US, Europe and Middle East.

Interest from global markets was no surprise as the new Wyave camera design made it so easy for residential customers to secure their homes. Wyave cameras don’t need wires to supply power, don’t demand tedious charging of batteries and ship with a free IoT SIM card that can be easily activated anywhere in the world.

However, expansion into new global markets posed the challenge of how to easily and cost-effectively provide wireless IoT connectivity out of the box. Chinese SIM cards were not suitable for overseas markets and Lykus needed to provide global customers with a user-friendly, one-stop-shop connectivity solution without the need to buy and activate a separate SIM card.

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The ease of use, low cost and reliability of IoT connectivity around the world is crucial to create a positive experience for Lykus customers. We want our customers to have their security cameras up and running as fast as possible, with minimum hassle.

Joe Zhao,
CEO of Lykus Technologies

Global Reach, Lower Pay-as-you-go Pricing and Frictionless Scaling

After thorough market evaluation, Lykus chose Thinxtra’s Cellular IoT solution, powered by Soracom, a leading global provider of cellular IoT connectivity. Every Wyave security camera shipped to global export markets includes a Soracom SIM card and E-SIM to provide rapid plug-and-play wireless connectivity. Once the card is inserted into a Lykus camera, the device automatically searches for and connects to the global network.

Zhao says, “We are pleased with the solution’s global reach and user-friendly browser-based management console. The console makes SIM connection fast and easy and provides real-time monitoring of SIM and device activity and data usage. This saves our engineers, and customers, a lot of time and complexity during setup.”

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Customer Value and Choice

Lykus is passionate about offering its customers’ choice, a positive experience and fast time to value. This connectivity solution gives customers the option to connect security cameras right out of the box or choose their own.

Zhao says, “Soracom’s pay-as-you-go pricing model helps Lykus’ customers’ minimise their cost. When our security cameras are connected to the IoT cellular network, if no activity is detected, no data is transferred through the SIM card. If no data is transferred, there is no fee for the customer. We’re impressed with the partnership between Soracom and Thinxtra and look forward to using Soracom SIM cards in a wider range of our cameras and overseas markets in the future.”

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Partnering for success is a core Thinxtra value. The partnership between Lykus Technologies, Soracom and Thinxtra demonstrates how real customer value is created when industry-leading experts collaborate on fit-for-purpose solutions.

Joe Sun,
General Manager, Hong Kong and Macau at Thinxtra

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About Lykus Technologies – Wyave

Lykus designs and manufactures a range of solar powered security cameras and high-quality drone carry and storage solutions for hobbyists and enthusiasts. We understand the different needs of our customers for reliability, portability, storage and accessories and are committed to continuous innovation. Our products are used in over 30 countries globally.

Visit Wyave website for more product information.

Land Rover Achieves 48% Response Rate with Ebi’s Digital Direct Marketing Campaign

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The Challenge

In the highly competitive car market, print marketing campaigns achieve an average of 4.9% response rate.
The Internet of Things (IoT) opened a new innovative and affordable communication channel to digitise print media and inspire potential buyers to book a test drive.

The Solution

An IoT-enabled direct mail pack featuring vehicle graphics and specifications included a replica of the car’s “start/stop” button. Pressing the button sent an instant test drive request message over the 0G Network, to the nearest Land Rover dealership.

The Results

Unprecedented in direct marketing: Land Rover’s direct mail response rate jumps 10-fold to 48% compared to traditional print direct marketing campaigns and delivers a 24x return on investment with Ebi’s IoT-enabled Digital Direct Marketing (DDM) campaign.

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0G Network Operator, WND UK

WND UK is the Sigfox 0G Network Operator in England, and end-to-end IoT solution provider delivering local service with global scale.

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Solution Partner, Ebi

Since 1977, UK-based Ebi has been a full-service creative print house servicing a range of European industries.

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Customer, Land Rover

Land Rover is a British brand of predominantly four-wheel drive, off-road capable vehicles, that is owned by multinational car manufacturer Jaguar Land Rover.

When Land Rover wanted a unique campaign to cut through the noise in the high competitive car market and inspire its customers to book ask for a test drive of its Land Rover Evoque model, they hired Ebi.

With industry leading experience and capabilities, the team at Ebi developed an innovative digital direct marketing (DDM) concept for Land Rover. The vision was to enable instant live communication with potential customers from their homes, over an IoT network, by engaging audiences with a direct mail pack. By pressing a replica of the car’s “start/stop” button, recipients would automatically send a test drive request to the nearest dealership. To maximise response rates Ebi knew it was critical to give recipients a way to easily respond to the offer and enable instant, frictionless communication with Land Rover without needing to download an app or scan anything.

Luke Thomas, Business Development Director at Ebi says, “To carry off this concept, we had to satisfy ourselves that whatever technology we used would be affordable, robust, give us great coverage and work in people’s homes. We initially developed prototypes using mobile devices and SIM cards, but it quickly became apparent that a mobile network was not within budget or technically feasible for our application.”

WND UK’s 0G Network:
reliable connectivity over a low-cost, low-power, long-range wireless network

When traditional mobile networks proved too complex and expensive, Ebi turned to WND UK’s 0G Network, powered by Sigfox, a low-cost, low-power wireless network (LPWAN) designed to connect IoT devices over long distances. Harnessing ultra-narrow band technology, the 0G Network provides connectivity services suited for devices that do not need high data throughput and demand long battery life.

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WND UK’s Sigfox IoT network looked like the ideal solution on paper. We were immediately impressed by the maturity of their ecosystem supporting the Sigfox 0G Network. There’s a fully operational network in place, a support community and a range of device manufacturers that we could call on, but we had to ensure it was fool-proof before we submitted a proposal to our client.

Luke Thomas, Business Development Director, Ebi

Ebi had a team of 15 people test the 0G Network over six weeks and ran over 2,000 tests in different buildings including apartment blocks, windowless rooms, public buildings and residential homes. WND’s 0G Network and device partners provided the service, coverage and support that were critical to make the business case stack up, and the solution to work reliably. The test results returned a 98 percent success rate.

Thomas says, “The results of our testing left us in no doubt that the technology would work for the Land Rover campaign.”

Outcomes for Land Rover speak for themselves

Ebi developed a sophisticated digital direct mail (DDM) cloud platform, built to adapt and fully integrate with a range of push notification capabilities and broad APIs. DDM Cloud can deliver direct multichannel communications or trigger alerts and notifications into existing client marketing information systems and other marketing solutions.

The teamwork between Ebi and WND UK on the DDM campaign for the Land Rover Evoque model delivered personalised IoT-enabled packs to the home addresses of 5,000 potential customers. The campaign achieved an unparalleled results and resulted in a 24x return-on-investment.

The campaign has picked up awards from the Direct Marketing Association.

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The Future

The future potential for DDM is broad and the results are compelling. “We are working to make it cost-effective for a wider range of products – not just high-end cars. Combining digital with physical channels is a marketing game changer and this technology does it beautifully,” concludes Thomas.

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Ebi’s application of our Sigfox 0G Network and partner solutions demonstrates superbly the way that our low-cost, highly reliable IoT network opens the door to novel applications.

Tim Harris Chief Executive, WND UK

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0G UN is the Global Association of 0G Network Operators, powered by Sigfox, the world’s leading IoT service provider.

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Adams Pest Control, Cre8tec and Thinxtra Create the Future of Pest Control Saving Time and Money with IoT-enabled 24×7 Digital Rodent Management Solution Running on Thinxtra’s 0G Network

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About Adams Pest Control, A Division of Orkin Australia

Since 1944 Adams Pest Control has been a leading Australian pest service provider. With a company culture that values innovation, Adams was one of Australia’s first pest management firms to track and control rodent activity using world-leading technology.

The Opportunity

Use science and data to disrupt traditional commercial rodent management methods with a technology-based solution that remotely detects and monitors rodent activity 24×7 enabling fast, targeted treatment.

The IoT Solution

RATSENSE, an Internet of Things (IoT) enabled digital rodent surveillance system, remotely monitors rodent activity and supports targeted treatment to help customers:

  • improve speed and efficiency of rodent management.
  • protect business reputation and property.
  • save time and money.
  • meet ISO compliance standards.

Adams Pest Control, a division of Orkin Australia, have been industry-leaders in commercial pest control for over 75 years. The team understands all too well the immeasurable damage the humble rodent can cause to a business’s property, reputation and human health.

Rats and mice carry more than 50 diseases communicable to humans. Rodents must gnaw hard materials daily to control tooth growth, which creates structural damage and fire risk. And no business wants a customer complaint about a rodent running across the floor of their restaurant, university lecture hall, supermarket or hospital.

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Over fourteen years we collected field data on our traditional rodent control methods of manually laying traps and baits, sealing entry points and removing food and water sources. Those techniques are time-consuming, costly and inefficient. In one example, our technician took ten hours every month to manually check 300 bait stations to find only two had activity. We knew there must be a better way to get better customer outcomes. Our leadership team embraces innovation and backed plans to transform our approach to an age-old problem.

Peter Taylor,
General Manager of Adams Pest Control, a Division of Orkin Australia

Early Challenges

The Adams Pest Control team explored sensor-based technology to detect and control rodent activity. Rodents create nests, holes and runways which are used repeatedly to move between nesting areas and food and water sources. Such activities are often concealed in challenging environments including basements, cellars or structural foundations encased in thick concrete.

Taylor says, “Our first project with sensor-based technology used Wi-Fi to connect sensors. In practice, Wi-Fi had poor range where we needed it to work and it became expensive because of the number of hardware, modems and repeater stations necessary to cover a commercial building. Next we tried SIM cards, but we found the battery life too short to be sustainable and the business case simply didn’t stack up.

Why Thinxtra?

In 2017, Taylor and his team consulted with Cre8tec, an Internet of Things (IoT) solution provider. Cre8tec offers a market-leading IoT-enabled solution for digital rodent surveillance: RATSENSE.

To install RATSENSE, trained Adams technicians place infrared sensor-based tracking devices, running on long-life batteries, around a property to monitor rodents in real-time. Activity data is captured and sent to a centralised base station through the most challenging environments, including basements and cellars, via the Thinxtra 0G Network, powered by Sigfox. The Thinxtra 0G Network is the public, low-cost, low-power, wide area network dedicated to connecting Internet of Things (IoT) devices over long distances.

Taylor says, “We partnered with Cre8tec because RATSENSE is world-leading digital rodent surveillance technology that runs on the Thinxtra 0G Network. The 0G Network is fast, reliable, low cost, long-range, flexible and can provide coverage in all the locations where we need it. Connection to the network was as easy as turning on a switch. It hasn’t let us down once since we went live with our first customer.” on-site.

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The RATSENSE digital surveillance system records rodent activity in real-time, taking the guesswork out of rodent management. Multiple Grade A buildings, large infrastructure sites and universities in Singapore and Australia have installed RATSENSE. We’ve proven the ability to reliably identify rodent activity for rapid treatment improves time and cost savings for customers and increases the efficiency of rodent management by pest control companies.

Deanne Baptista,
Director of Cre8tec

Data Drives Positive, Measurable Impact

Adams Pest Control deployed its first RATSENSE system in July 2018 for a customer at a large entertainment facility. The facility used over 900 bait stations every month to manage rodents, which Adams replaced with 500 sensors. The savings in technician time to detect problems, reduced cost of chemicals and baits and improved speed to fix problems motivated the customer to deploy the RATSENSE system to its three other locations around the country.

Taylor says, “We believe Adams was the first Australian pest controller to hire a data analyst. Data captured by the RATSENSE system lets us create heat maps of rodent activity. For one customer, the heat map identified an activity spike which pinpointed the details we needed to fix the problem in a single day. In the past, we might have taken a month to find that problem. For another customer our kill rate went from 120 rodents a month to just over 3,000 rodents over 3 months Using data in our business is the best solution we’ve found to improve how we help customers in over a decade.”

The Good News from False Positives

Critics of digital rodent surveillance systems cite faulty sensors and false positive sensor readings as a drawback to technology-based pest control. Taylor takes a different view, “It’s simply not true that sensors aren’t reliable. Modern sensor technology is mature and trustworthy. Alleged false positives have led us to discover other business problems. At one customer, the sensors detected a damaging slug infestation. At another, the sensors revealed an inadvertent security risk by a chef who left a door open when he took breaks. We take advantage of so-called ‘false positives.”

Measurable Outcomes

With RATSENSE, pest control companies can offer customers 24×7 always-on digital rodent surveillance delivering positive, measurable outcomes. Customers save time and money by efficiently fixing problems while protecting reputation, property and human health. RATSENSE helps customers meet ISO compliance standards and reduce rodent chemicals used on-site by up to 80 per cent. Pest control companies can divert technician time traditionally needed on-site for manual rodent management towards supporting treatments for a broader range of customers. RATSENSE also enables pest control companies to offer COVID-safe treatment due to the reduced need for technicians on-site.

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Cre8tec are a strategic, innovative partner who are leading the market in disrupting pest control with the IoT. RATSENSE is a powerful example of the speed, flexibility, reliability and ease-of-use of the Thinxtra 0G Network.

Loic Barancourt,
Chief Executive Officer of Thinxtra

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About Adams Pest Control, a Division of Orkin Australia

Since 1944 Adams Pest Control has been Australia’s largest independent pest control provider. In July 2020, Orkin Australia, a subsidiary of Atlanta, Ga.-based Rollins Inc, acquired Adams Pest Control. With a company culture that values innovation, Adams was one of the first pest controllers in Australia to adopt electronic monitoring, using world-leading technology, to track, monitor and control rodent activity. Adams Pest Control treats rodents, insects, birds, possums, spiders, bees, silverfish and termites.

Visit the Adams Pest Control website for more information about its full range of services.