For more than 35 years, Wideco Sweden AB has been a leading player in developing Leak Detection Systems for the district heating pipes industry and related underground areas. Now, they’re taking their decades of knowledge and experience and combining it with new IoT technology to not only better serve their current customer base but to also enhance their offering. For Wideco, adding LTE-M and NB-IoT to their range means continuing to evolve their business, offering customers around the globe solutions that save both money and time, while also boosting sustainability.
Back in 1982, when Wideco was founded, there weren’t any smartphones, apps, or wireless connectivity to help monitor remote assets like district pipes – and there certainly wasn’t IoT as we know it today. Back then, Wideco used alarm units with red and green lights – if something went wrong, such as too much moisture in the pipe’s insulation or a leak, the red light would show. If everything was ok, it was the green light.
The challenge with this system was that it was entirely manual – you had to first go out into the field and install the systems, then you had to send people to check on them regularly. It was labor and time intensive and it wasn’t economical. So, when IoT arrived on the scene, Wideco saw the opportunity to enhance their offering.
Wideco’s IoT journey began with GPRS (General Packet Radio Service), which was often unreliable, with frequent disconnects. But as connectivity evolved, so too did the Wideco solution.
“The advances in IoT technology have been a game changer for us,” explains Karl-Johan Wirfalk, CEO Wideco. “For the past decade or so we’ve been working with 2G and 3G, but with new LPWA protocols like LTE-M and NB-IoT becoming available, we see them as a compliment to what we already offer. The coverage and stability of LTE-M and NB-IoT are better for some applications, such as tracker sensors, and prices are coming down. Essentially, being able to offer a range of possibilities to our customers helps them implement the best IoT solution.”
Wideco has already implemented NB-IoT and LTE-M sensors into their IoT platform WISION, but because the technology around sensors is moving so quickly, with new sensors featuring new protocols coming onto the market all the time, the company instead sources them from a variety of partners, depending on the use case. Their own hardware is mainly focused on their core business – district heating and cooling – but as they move further to the smart city arena, Wideco wants to ensure they have the right sensors for the right job, whether that’s parking sensors, tracking solutions, or waste management. As a result, they work with partners and suppliers from around Europe to ensure they are able to offer the right quality sensor.