Real time monitoring also means municipalities can use predictive maintenance on the hole and the sewage system, saving money, being more efficient, and also more sustainable. And long-term data collection means planning for the future.
An end-to-end solution
The NID-CTHINGS.CO is an end-to-end solution. CTHINGS.CO’s dashboard is fully operational and can be integrated into any other system that either currently exists or that might exist in the future.
“Whatever you build, whatever you expand, you will have the same access,” explains Arnold Wierzejski. “That means that if there is an existing system that customers are used to using, we can expose the data gathered to those systems. And it also works the other way around: we can pull data to enrich the analytics and give more meaningful insights. So, we can broker the data if the customer wants, and we have all the best practices and standards you would expect.”
The data generates real time information as well as reports that give a longer-term analysis. These periodic reports can be on a timeline that suits the user, whether that’s weekly or monthly or some other iteration. This helps them understand that this sewage line carries the most water, that line has the most problems, and you need to either clean up all the ones around them or maybe build a new one. The reports help prioritize workflows, what is most urgently in need of attention, and also understand domino effects within the system
“All the statistics and all the areas of extensive challenge detection are gathered to help define the problems, because different systems and different manholes face different challenges,” says Arnold Wierzejski. “It’s important to understand that in order to address challenges effectively.
When the devices are installed and the data gathered and analyzed, whomever is in charge, such as the city planner or city manager, can do a risk analysis and understand the risk threshold and the safety threshold for different parameters, allowing them to protect their communities and make more effective use of resources.
Managing Connectivity & roaming
Managing their connectivity and SIMs is done with Cisco IoT Control Center (2CONTROL), which offers basic functions of SIM List with statuses, usage, etc.
“Some of the features that are most helpful to us include individual statistics and session data for each SIM card, which is beneficial for transmission pattern optimization and troubleshooting the connectivity problems,” says Arnold Wierzejski. “The engineering functions, such as Spotlight or Diagnose, easily help us find the root cause of connectivity problems. Moreover, we appreciate having the statuses of SIM cards and the possibility to change or suspend SIM cards that haven’t been used for a while. It really helps to keep the SIM card situation clear from the economic and engineering perspective.”
Roaming also plays a big part in the company’s product expansion across Europe, and having access to Tele2 IoT’s roaming agreements removes a lot of headaches.
“Engaging with local MNOs (Mobile Network Operators) is both time consuming and costly,” says Arnold Wierzejski. “Having an already proven connectivity supplier with a professionally maintained and extended list of roaming partners allows us to really expand our business to new countries in very short time frame, which means our Time2Market is very competitive.
“We’ve had great
cooperation with our point of contact at Tele2 IoT. The offer was straightforward and
clear, which allows us to easily calculate each business case we have. Moreover, we find the n
ewsletters encouraging, especially articles on
roaming partners and their situation, as they give us confidence in our technological decisions while keeping us informed of the current situation in other countries.”
NID and CTHINGS.CO learned a lot during the pilot phase of their connected manhole covers. As Arnold Wierzejski put it, devices do better if you send them into orbit than if you put them into a sewer, because it is a truly harsh environment where everything in the sewer eats up the electronics.
“Our promise to our customers is that the device will survive for about six years, so we had to make improvements and create hardware with materials that could truly withstand that harsh environment,”explains Arnold Wierzejski. “The result is an updated device and improved source code that now gets the job done.”
IoT & connectivity
The NID-CTHINGS.CO solution is the first of its kind in Europe and uses Tele2 SIM cards. LTE-M is the technology of choice because it is specifically designed for remote places in need of long-term battery life/low power consumption.
“Some municipalities are having a romance with Lora or other technologies that don’t offer the capabilities of LTE-M,” says Arnold Wierzejski. “I think that romance will be short-lived once they realize it doesn’t have a long-term relationship possibility.
“There are any number of cities around the world with ageing sewage systems that are difficult to reach and that are in dire need of better ways to maintaining them. Without Tele2 IoT’s connectivity and the real time data it allows us to collect, they’re just cooking spaghetti. The lines look like spaghetti and cities are just trying to update and upgrade the system by adding more lines, which doesn’t really fix the problem. Our solution changes that, allowing them to monitor multiple locations and address problems earlier, before they become overwhelming.”
In parallel to installing connected manhole covers, NID and CTHINGS.CO have been developing a new solution for utilities operator Va Syd in southern Sweden, which involves remotely monitoring hydrants.
“We call this project Smart Hydrant Cap and with it we measure both usage and monitor security,” says Arnold Wierzejski. “Hydrants are critical infrastructure and it’s crucial they are monitored in order to prevent any tampering, such as with a terrorist attack. The solution we have developed is patented filed and it works with any kind of hydrant.”
Further expansion of their portfolio will include smart ground water level monitoring and their smart industrial radar solution has any number of other use cases, including septic tanks, rivers, sea sides, lakes, and both artificial and natural reservoirs.
“Interest in our solution continues to grow. We’ve also gotten enquiries to see if our solutions can be used to monitor grain in silos, oil in tanks – the use cases are amazing,” says Arnold Wierzejski. “There are other solutions on the market, but they don’t have what we have. Our competitor’s maximum range is 2-3 meters, ours is up to ten meters. Their device lifecycle expectancy is one year to 16 months – our lifecycle is six years.”
Putting in the work to develop superior range, performance, and operations while also being less demanding in terms of maintenance and easier to operate remotely is why the CTHINGS.CO and NID solutions are in demand – and why the company is preparing to scale. Currently, CTHINGS.CO has customers across mainland Europe, with roughly 1300 devices deployed in the field. The company expects this number grow exponentially in the coming months due to new established partnerships.
CTHINGS.CO’s roadmap includes several new features that will provide customer with greater visibility and control over their water management systems. One of the most innovative features is the measurement increase in case of warning or critical state of the device. This feature automatically increases measurement intervals when the device enters a warning or critical state, providing better insights and ensuring that users can take quick and efficient action.
“We’re also excited to introduce our Smart ALARM solution, which is perfect for the B2C market, specifically for private retention tanks,” says Arnold Wierzejski. “With this solution, homeowners are able to monitor the level of liquid in their tank and receive alerts when it reaches a critical point. This feature helps prevent costly water damage and ensures that homeowners have consistent water supply.“
Another essential feature being developed is Overflow Structures, which will track the performance of pumping stations and the amount of liquid pumped through them. This feature will help operators optimize the performance of pumping stations and prevent overflow situations, which can be costly and dangerous. And there is also a Fire Hydrant monitoring feature in development that uses sensors to monitor the water flow and pressure in fire hydrants.
“Looking further into the future, we’re exploring the possibility of integrating weather forecasting into our software. By connecting weather forecast data to our water management solution, we can gain a wider perspective on how weather patterns impact water management. This feature will allow our users to make more informed decisions about water usage and management, ensuring that they are always prepared for any weather-related changes.”
At the end of the day, these new features will provide users with a more pleasant and efficient water management experience. With greater visibility and control, users can optimize performance, prevent costly damage, and ensure a safe and reliable supply of water. CTHINGS.CO’s goal is to continue improving and expanding our capabilities to make water management easier and more efficient for everyone.
If you would like to learn more about how IoT can enable your business, please get in touch.