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Mining Company Trusts Satellite to Ensure Compliance while Lowering Costs/Risk

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The following Case Study is by Pacific Data Systems, a leader in smart monitoring and control systems and ORBCOMM solution provider based in Brisbane, Australia. Download the full Case Study here.

MineCo* is a global mining company that specializes in minerals used in building, manufacturing and primary industries. In Australasia, it has many mine sites and plants, some in very remote, hard to reach or fragile locations.

A tough environment

One particular mine in Australia is in the tropical North, and is subject to high temperatures, heavy rain and, in monsoon season, the occasional extreme weather. The site itself is also sandy and fragile, yet there is also dense forest with trees over 30 meters high and a steep escarpment to negotiate, which all make getting around quite a challenge.

Until recently, it was a requirement for MineCo staff to go to site to take groundwater measurements. According to Senior Hydrogeologist, Sean Finemore*: ‘It was a pretty simple and quick measurement once there, it was just getting there and back that was the problem’.

Unfriendly locals

For this MineCo site, groundwater measurements are taken to show that, as a result of the mining operation, neither depletion nor augmentation of levels is taking place. MineCo is serious about workplace safety too and, although sending two people to the site at a time adhered to guidelines, Finemore was aware of the hazards and wanted a better solution: ‘It wasn’t just about terrain or cost, it was about safety. Our guys had come across plenty of snakes over the years, so we needed a better way to collect data without risking our people’.

4 ways that didn’t work

Finemore started to look for alternatives, including direct cabling, and various devices powered by battery or solar power and connected to 3G, 4G or satellite networks. The purpose was to collect and send groundwater data back to MineCo’s data repository, and key requirements for the solution were robustness, reliability and continuous operation with low need for maintenance.

As Finemore says: “Cabling was out of the question, and the devices weren’t tough enough, or couldn’t get 3G or 4G access because the scarp cut off the line of sight, or had batteries that needed changing all the time. This all meant site visits, the very thing we wanted to avoid. There was nothing available that could do the job.”

An opportunity to seize

water level monitoring for miningFinemore already knew Pacific Data Systems, both as a supplier and developer of smart monitoring devices, so the opportunity to create a new device that could handle automated data transfer in tough remote locations was a practical solution for both.

With input from MineCo, the R&D team from Pacific Data Systems developed SatVue, a compact, rugged system that uses ORBCOMM’s satellite technology and the IsatData Pro satellite network to transmit data. The SatVue system is self-sustaining with a built-in solar panel. The satellite terminal is IP67 certified and designed to withstand harsh environments, extreme temperatures and high humidity. As designed, the installed equipment and corresponding services require minimal onsite maintenance and support.

Robust & reliable

SatVue has been in place at MineCo’s site for over six months and, according to Finemore, hasn’t missed a beat. Groundwater data has been regularly and continuously sent to the repository and, as a result, no one has been required to go to site to collect data.

While the savings are obvious based on just one device, according to Finemore the potential savings are far greater: ‘If we used SatVue for all of our remote measurements on this site, the savings would be substantial. If we extended it to other sites across Australia to measure groundwater and other parameters like stream chemistry, the return would be impressive’.

To learn more, download the “Remote Monitoring Best Practice Guide” by Pacific Data Systems, a leader in smart monitoring and control systems based in Brisbane, Australia. The company’s SatVue remote monitoring system combines a rugged, compact ORBCOMM device with smart monitoring technology and reliable satellite communications for environmental monitoring of remote sites. For more information, visit www.satvue.com.au

*This client has asked for names to be changed for privacy reasons

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Posted in 5. M2M/IoT Trends, 6. Networks Tagged with: , ,

Satellite AIS: The Largest Maritime Paradigm Shift in Over a Century

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Satellite AIS has created possibly the largest paradigm shift in the maritime world since the introduction of the  steam engine and the screw propeller over 100 years ago.  The first six satellites in ORBCOMM’s AIS-enabled constellation were launched for the US Coast Guard in 2008 for coastal and port visibility. Eight years and 18 satellites later, satellite AIS has become an ubiquitous tool for an ever-increasing array of maritime applications.

satellite aisAIS is a primary tool for the protection of the maritime environment and its resources, especially fish and oil.  It is also routinely paired with imaging space systems such as electro-optical satellites and, especially synthetic aperture radar satellites.  With both of these imaging satellites there is a natural synergism as AIS enables the identification of many imaged ships.  If they are not identifiable or attempt to hide their identity via spoofing, this can lead to further examination by other assets such as aircraft and military vessels.

GPS is the only other system that even comes close to the impact of satellite AIS on the maritime industry in last 150 plus years. But while GPS left the maritime world opaque, satellite AIS is quickly making it transparent.  Like GPS, which was created to improve the accuracy of the US submarine launched ballistic missiles, satellite AIS is rapidly becoming ever more present in the marine world as more and more applications for its data are being discovered and developed.   In its first eight years of existence, satellite AIS has already surpassed GPS in terms of its impact on the maritime world. Let’s look at just some of the evolving uses of satellite AIS: Read more ›

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Posted in 3. Maritime / AIS, 6. Networks Tagged with: , ,

Remote Monitoring Best Practices: The Top 5 Challenges

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The following excerpt is from the “Remote Monitoring Best Practice Guide” published by Australia’s Pacific Data Systems. Download the full Guide here.

For those in industries that collect and analyse data, especially in hard to reach, extreme or fragile environments, remote monitoring can present a number of challenges, namely:

remote-pipeline1. Diverse data and data sources

Collecting data from remote locations can be expensive, inconvenient, unreliable and inaccurate.

Yet, for many companies involved in mining, exploration, environmental protection or agriculture, collection & analysis of such data is critical to continuous operation.

The first challenge is the bewildering array of parameters to be monitored. These vary widely from industry to industry, but include parameters related to:

  • Environmental
  • Natural Resources
  • Water
  • Agriculture
  • Mining, Oil & Gas
  • Ecological monitoring

2. Cost and risk of manual monitoring

If sites to monitor are extremely remote, manual data collection for analysis back at base has some serious challenges:

  • High cost of travelling to remote areas
  • Time delays between sampling and results
  • Inability to monitor continuously
  • Inability to detect/alert on sudden changes
  • One-off samples may not be representative
  • Cost to comply with WH&S ‘two person policy’ for remote areas.

Many remote areas monitored by mining and exploration companies are in rugged or hostile terrain too, such as desert Saudi Arabia, offshore Alaska or in the Russian tundra, which makes the physical collection of samples dangerous.

In tropical areas like Papua New Guinea, Indonesia, or Venezuela, the wet season can turn swathes of the country into swamps making vehicular access difficult. Cyclones and floods add an extra degree of difficulty.

In the Australian outback, heat stress is the major issue for staff. In all these areas, extreme conditions make reliable, timely sampling by manual methods almost impossible. It also doubles the cost, if two people are required to go to site every time for safety reasons.

3. Complexity and cost of bespoke devices

Wireless technology and electronics have advanced rapidly in recent decades, including compact monitoring devices that collect and transmit data via wireless networks. These have made remote monitoring and data acquisition a reality, and represent more affordable, practical solutions for collecting data in remote areas. Read more ›

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Posted in 2. Heavy Equipment, 4. Oil & Gas / Utilities, 5. M2M/IoT Trends Tagged with: , ,

IoT Devices Panel: The Latest in Solution-Enabling Hardware (Video)

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There is no end to the options available today for Internet of Things (IoT) devices, modems sensors and other hardware to power modern IoT solutions.  Hosted by 151 Advisors, APP-SOLUTELY IoT was a half-day seminar at CTIA Super Mobility 2016 that explored IoT topics ranging from deploying devices, choosing a connectivity provider, managing security risks and how to generate revenue with IoT.

The Hardware & Devices Panel below explored the many options available to IoT solutions developers for Internet enabled hardware, chips, modules, edge devices and other IoT products on the market today.

Watch as Craig Malone, ORBCOMM EVP of Product Development, joins other industry experts to discuss solution-enabling IoT devices, the appeal of dual- and tri-mode offerings, the difference between geographic and regulatory coverage, the importance of rugged and durable hardware, and much more…

For more information on ORBCOMM’s IoT solutions and connectivity options, visit http://www.orbcomm.com/iot or email sales@orbcomm.com.

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Posted in 5. M2M/IoT Trends Tagged with: , ,

FSMA Compliance: 3 Key Considerations for Food Logistics Professionals

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Cold chain compliance webinarThere’s been a lot of discussion recently around best practices, emerging technologies and upcoming legislation affecting the food logistics industry. We heard many during October’s IFDA Distribution Solutions Conference and our recent Cold Chain webinar hosted by Food Logistics. The US FDA’s Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), with a compliance deadline set for April 2017, is still very much top-of-mind for anybody involved in the transportation and distribution of perishable foods. As companies look to outline processes and set best practices, here are some points to consider:

Data Accuracy and Integrity a Must

With FSMA fast approaching, food transporters are turning to technology to enable temperature management and compliance in their fleets. However, since the ruling does not specify or standardize on a specific type of tracking device, we expect some issues will arise around inconsistencies in data collection and data integrity. With liability at stake, data collection, storage and delivery will become key to compliance. A system that collects readings directly from a reefer’s microprocessor is highly accurate compared to disposable solutions such as data loggers, which can generate contradictory results based a wide range of external factors.

Remote Access to the Reefer

The ability to remotely control a refrigerated trailer also becomes important. With trailer pre-cooling notifications becoming a requirement of the new ruling, enabling dispatch to pre-cool a trailer without driver intervention will not only save time and money, it will minimize potential issues caused by human error. Similarly, when temperature inconsistencies are detected, the ability for dispatch to quickly deploy corrective measures and remotely modify a unit’s set temperature will improve efficiency and minimize losses and claims due to spoilage.

Creating a Culture of Safety

ReeferTrak demoBeyond rolling out new processes and technology, FSMA’s success will depend largely on the industry’s ability to foster a culture around safety. It’s not enough for individual companies to roll out minor changes in order to “pass” the compliance test. Carriers, shippers and everyone involved in the food supply chain need to work together to outline best practices and ensure that every aspect of the operation adheres to the highest standards to ensure product integrity as commodities move along the chain.

To watch a replay of our new Cold Chain Webinar, visit www2.orbcomm.com/cold-chain-compliance

For more information on how to prepare for FSMA compliance, visit www.fsmaready.com

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Posted in 1. Transportation Tagged with: , , ,

Beyond the Device: Future-proofing Smart Containers in a Fast-Changing World

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Digitization of global container supply chain operations is upon us and big data from IoT devices will play a critical role. Early adopters of IoT-connected ‘smart containers’ are starting to reap the first fruits of the new digital economy, reporting tangible reductions in operating costs and better insight into the real causes of waste, loss, damage and claims.

reefer container monitoring applicationBut the transition to ‘smart shipping’ is in its infancy and many questions remain as the industry feels its way towards this new reality. Not least of these is how IoT technology will develop in the future and what that means for companies making their investments today.

These are some of the key takeaways from two transport industry events ORBCOMM took part in recently: Cool Logistics Global  in Germany and TOC Americas  in Mexico.  As we head off to continue the conversation at the Container Owners Association meeting and Intermodal Europe show in Rotterdam, we offer a recap and some reflections on the recent debates.

Digitization and IoT: Not If, but When

Hapag-Lloyd CCO Thorsten Haeser told the Cool Logistics conference that of all the issues facing container shipping today, digitization of the supply chain will have the greatest impact. “As an industry, we should do our homework and do it as fast as possible,” he advised. “In the next 2-3 years, we will see a big change.”

“Bringing the container online is the new story,” said Mr. Haeser, citing predictive maintenance, real-time alerts, impact identification and position notification as some of the key benefits. “We need to deliver cargo in the best shape at point of destination and manage expectations regarding timeliness. If we can create transparency on where the container is, we can advise the customer earlier and allow them to prepare.”

Crossing the Chasm: The Smart Container Journey

Maersk Line used both events to update the market on its Remote Container Management (RCM) project, as discussed in one of our blog posts earlier this year. At Cool Logistics, Maersk’s Head of Reefer Management Shereen Zarkani confirmed that in mid-2017 the carrier will share data from its 270,000 IoT-enabled reefer containers with its BCO customers. She said that RCM has already given Maersk Line “unprecedented visibility” and that the company has changed its operating processes and supplier relationships as a result. “Now, the reefer tells us there is a problem and we send a technician out.”

Catja Horth, head of Maersk’s RCM program, said that since going live at the end of 2015, Maersk had converted 285,00 reefer PTIs (pre-trip inspections) from a long to a short version. PTIs represent a major operating cost to the reefer container industry and a chance for huge cost savings and efficiency gains courtesy of IoT technology.

But getting to grips with all this new information, and new ways of working, is a challenge that should not be underestimated. Read more ›

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Posted in 1. Transportation, 3. Maritime / AIS, 5. M2M/IoT Trends Tagged with: , , ,

Smart Grid Monitoring: Better Data for Utilities

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By Reinaldo Burian

Utility companies are looking for ways to improve the reliability and availability of real time field data in order to make smarter decisions related to power distribution.

The ability to precisely and quickly address warning signs related to quality indicators such as the SAIFI (System Average Interruption Frequency Index) and SAIDI (System Average Interruption Duration Index) is key to improving the integrity and reliability of smart grid infrastructure.

Traditional network outages

Traditional connectivity options, such as radio or cellular service, are susceptible to both environmental and network capacity driven outages. Most of the time these options work well, however it is precisely during these outages when utilities need to understand how their electrical distribution network is functioning.

Satellite solutions

The evolution of satellite, particularly in telemetry applications, has made Smart Grid monitoring an accessible and reliable reality for M2M (Machine-to-Machine) applications. These satellite-based solutions are designed to process data collected from devices installed in the power grid to enable command, control and telemetry.

Real-time and reliable

Satellite telemetry devices can be customized to control the process of information exchange between the Distribution Operations Center (DOCs) and the field protection equipment. DNP 3.0-enabled devices can be integrated with power grid protection devices such as reclosers, capacitor banks and voltage regulators, as well as with measurement devices such as Smart Meters, allowing the reliable exchange of field information in real time.

The advantages of satellite-based smart grid solutions are multi-fold:

  • High reliability (99.9% up time)
  • Always on connectivity
  • Easy installation (no antenna pointing)
  • Discrete low profile hardware
  • A single solution for urban and remote areas
  • No initial infrastructure requirements
  • No recurring maintenance requirements
  • A dual-mode cellular/satellite solution uses satellite as the secondary, backup mode of connectivity.

 

smart grid telemetry devices

ORBCOMM’s satellite telemetry device is the link among the areas where cellular coverage is completely unavailable.

Connecting Reclosers

For example, in connecting reclosers, event and alarm messages may be sent, including analog and digital values which represent recloser status information. These values are filtered and the relevant data is transmitted by the solution, ensuring minimal network data usage. By analyzing this information, the DOC is able to improve Smart Grid quality by responding with recloser control requests.

Reinaldo BurianReinaldo Burian is ORBCOMM’s Application Engineer for Smart Grid. See Reinaldo present “Enhancing Electrical Power Distribution Quality Through Satellite Telemetry” at the SCADA Technology Summit, taking place Nov. 3 – 4 in Las Vegas. Through a global network of solution providers, ORBCOMM has a complete solution for asset monitoring and control of assets in Smart Grids. For more information, visit http://www.orbcomm.com

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Posted in 4. Oil & Gas / Utilities, 5. M2M/IoT Trends Tagged with: ,

Are You IoT Ready? Find Out…

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IoT solution readiness calculatorFrom wireless connectivity and embedded devices to software and sensor options, there are countless considerations to weigh before planning out your Internet of Things (IoT) solution. How do you know where to start, or if you’re even ready for an IoT solution deployment?

ORBCOMM has partnered with the IoT M2M Council (IMC) to develop a new IoT Readiness Calculator designed to help prepare companies for deploying connected devices in the field. The IoT calculator surveys users about their business requirements as well as technical issues including security, latency, integration and scalability. The survey tool also compares the results with the respondent’s industry peers to provide a scorecard for an even fuller picture of IoT solution readiness.

The IoT Readiness Calculator includes some fairly sophisticated algorithms to determine the individual score for a user’s planned IoT project, and then shows how that project stacks up to others in the same field. The users receive an email with their scores, as well as indication of where they need improvement, and advice on solutions providers to contact. The calculator is an invaluable evaluation tool at the outset of any IoT project, that will ultimately help ensure quick and efficient solution deployment while meeting business and end-user requirements.

iot calculator

IoT Readiness Calculator respondents receive a scorecard comparing them to their industry peers for an even fuller picture of IoT solution readiness.

The IoT Readiness Calculator is a valuable complement to ORBCOMM’s IoT Toolkit, which provides every layer of the IoT stack required to develop market-specific solutions that improve asset utilization, reduce operational costs and provide long-term return on investment (ROI). ORBCOMM’s IoT Toolkit components, including devices, connectivity services, subscriber and device management, application enablement platform, as well as cloud-based SaaS reporting applications, are available together or separately to enable customers to create M2M and IoT solutions with the assurance that all of the building blocks are interoperable and come with a single point of contact for end-to-end support.

For more information, visit http://www2.orbcomm.com/iot-readiness or email sales@orbcomm.com.

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Posted in 5. M2M/IoT Trends Tagged with:

AIS Data Helping Protect Lives in High Seas and Altitudes

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29622_orbcomm_bannerad_satellite_ais_300x250_enWe live in a world with huge amounts of information and how that data is received and assimilated can have life or death consequences in certain situations.

Information, much like building a house, must be framed properly in the context of each situation. Let take a look at an international airline pilot for example, who must sort through hundreds of pages of information on a daily basis to get from point A to point B safely.

Existing regulations mandate that a pilot/operator of an aircraft must examine each and every hazard from every major aircraft system and then be able to safely mitigate each one of those risks. International pilots must always consider the worst case scenario of an overwater flight, which is the loss of an engine followed by a decompression at a point furthest in time from a landing airport.

This is a problem since, should an aircraft lose an engine and have to descend to a safe altitude (in some cases 10,000 ft) where oxygen is not required, the pilot must plan to have enough fuel at this gas guzzling altitude to land safely at a diversion airport. Often there is not enough fuel capacity to do so and the flight must fly higher than 10,000 ft, where oxygen must be considered and planned for.

Oxygen consumption is dynamic, so as fuel consumption begins to decrease as the altitude of the aircraft increases, oxygen consumption increases. This reduces the operating range of the aircraft and you can begin to see the importance of managing all of this complex data correctly.

One worst-case scenario option the pilot must consider is an off airport landing or ditching. Making the correct decision here is critical, and requires flawless data analysis in a short amount of time.

So what does this have to do with marine traffic and AIS data transmissions? Read more ›

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Posted in 3. Maritime / AIS Tagged with: , ,

Into the Fire: Satellite Devices Keep Transmitting Critical Oil & Gas Data

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Reliability and ruggedness are two must-have characteristics when deploying remote monitoring systems in hazardous environments, where you can pretty much expect the unexpected.

VitalVu, a remote monitoring solution company based out of Salt Lake City, Utah, takes no chances when it comes to the integrity and uptime of critical data for their customers in the oil & gas industry.

First, to ensure communications reliability in remote areas where there is no cellular coverage, the company uses satellite-based M2M technology to frequently transmit data points from a variety of sensors monitoring on-site hardware.

Second, to ensure the solution is rugged enough to withstand the harshest conditions of oil & gas operations, VitalVu’s remote monitoring solutions use a small, power-efficient satellite messaging terminal that is certified for Class 1 Division 2 areas.

While the communications reliability is tested and proven on a daily basis, the solution’s ruggedness faced the ultimate challenge recently at a remote installation in Texas, when lightning struck a nearby tank, causing a major explosion. Much to the surprise of the solutions developers at VitalVu, even in the wake of the devastating fire that ensued, the satellite device used to monitor nearby equipment was still in working condition when it was recovered.

This ORBCOMM IDP-680 satellite terminal kept on ticking for VitalVu after a powerful oil tank explosion and fire

This ORBCOMM IDP-680 satellite terminal kept on ticking for VitalVu after a powerful tank explosion and fire

The device in question (an IDP-680 satellite terminal supplied by ORBCOMM) was being used to monitor 30 unique data points on a large hardware skid, which includes a number of pumps, valves, flow meters and tank levels among other things. Read more ›

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Posted in 4. Oil & Gas / Utilities, 5. M2M/IoT Trends

ORBCOMM is a single source provider of multi-network connectivity, leading edge devices and powerful applications for industries including transportation and distribution, heavy equipment, oil and gas, maritime and government.
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