Optimising the water flow

Deutsche Telekom is offering a remote monitoring solution for utilities such as water. Kate O’Flaherty speaks to Jürgen Hase, head of Deutsche Telekom’s M2M Competence Center

Optimising the water flow

Deutsche Telekom is continuing to target the M2M space, with automation and smart cities forming a key part of its strategy.

Integral to this is one of Deutsche Telekom’s newer solutions for universal remote management through M2M for industrial automation. The pre-configured solutions are aimed at specific applications, such as water, wind power stations and the supply of oil or gas.

Deutsche Telekom’s water solution centres around flow management – an increasingly important part of public infrastructure.

The water management solution uses sensors to measure parameters such as water tank levels, the status of pumps and water flow. It is optimised for both fresh and used water in cities.

The product can be integrated into control systems and uses remote monitoring to identify what is and is not working. As a result, the solution allows utilities to reduce maintenance costs and control their water flow more efficiently.

Jürgen Hase, head of Deutsche Telekom’s M2M Competence Center tells Wireless: ‘We are responsible for the water flow: whatever you can pump we can use it for.’

 

Visibility

Because of the location of water pumps, special types of modules are needed. ‘Water pumps are normally in an area underground – so you need devices [modules] with low power consumption,’ says Hase. ‘These are really important and the lifetime of modules is also important as it needs to work for at least five years.’

As such, the solution utilises the Nethix WE500 – a flexible and high performance platform providing wireless unattended remote monitoring and control with 2G or 3G connectivity, via a Deutsche Telekom Sim card.

Meanwhile, all the machines include GPS so are able to monitor and track location if devices are stolen. The devices update over the air and can have a seven to 10 year lifespan.

Hase says firms can reduce downtime and enable better visibility by using the solution. It enhances visibility by giving a full report, which can be seen on-screen. ‘You can see the information on screen and you can name locations,’ says Hase. ‘You have a list where you can see equipment and identify each individual device or machine. On top of that there’s a full overview on the type of device.’

The remote monitoring solution does not support satellite communication out-of-the-box, but the gateway can be upgraded with a separate satellite modem. The option is not included as standard because there are only a small number of cases that would justify it, says Hase. It would, however, be possible if a user required it.

 

Big data

There is much discussion about ‘big data’ – and how to use it – in the utilities industry. But Hase prefers not to talk about high volumes of data, saying the solution is more about ‘many events’. He says: ‘I’d say it’s more events based. Volumes aren’t so high: it’s about each minute and each hour rather than the data volume itself.’

But once firms have collected the data, they need to analyse it and ask what it means. Using the product, users can interact with service people on the field and see how machines are working via a smartphone app, Hase says. ‘You can define levels for alarms, so if any parameter is going down below a certain level you can get the team there very quickly and downtime is very much reduced.’

As a result, the solution saves cash. Hase adds: ‘Most importantly you can optimise machines so you save money. You can generate new services on top as well.’

 

Cloud strategy

Ease-of-use is also integral to the solution: the firm is aiming to make it as basic as possible for non-technical users. By using the cloud, Deutsche Telekom aims to provide a ‘pay-as-they-grow’ approach where it provides the ecosystem as well as managing it.

‘It is important for users to make it as simple as possible,’ Hase says. ‘We are also making it smart and easy on the developer side in the cloud.

‘The cloud is really important,’ adds Hase, as he highlights the firm’s emphasis on the ‘pay-as-they-grow’ model. ‘Normally if you want to connect 10 water pumps then you have to pay for 10, but pay-as-you-grow is good. Also, the cloud is secure and you can do what you want: it’s highly scalable and you can start with one machine and grow.’

This allows firms to invest as they expand and reduces front investment in devices, says Hase, adding that the solution is also simple to get onboard and smart to deploy: the operator can install it in one day. ‘And then the customer has the information from machines, whether or not they have the technical knowledge.’

 

Other applications

Water is only one dedicated solution, the product can be used for multiple applications. Hase says: ‘For every parameter you need to know, we can manage with this [solution].’

But the most important thing for Deutsche Telekom now is to build up partnerships with experts in the industries: ‘We have a strong partner network and they bring in the vertical experience,’ Hase says.

‘They know what’s happening in each industry. We also have a solution for vending machines, for example, and the application behind it is the same: you can manage the machine. You can use it in any CRM system and improve your processes.’


Maingate

M2M provider Maingate has partnered with Deutsche Telekom for its Smart Home solution and support for the roll-out of its smart metering infrastructure. With load shifting and real time pricing, costs are reduced. The solution also fulfils regulatory requirements, such as consumer presentation of hourly meter value.

Maingate’s solutions are targeted at utilities and security companies, and designed to cater for the needs of smart cities, smart grids, smart homes and smart buildings.

 

Itron

Meanwhile, utilities technology firm Itron is offering smart meter solutions combined with M2M capabilities using Deutsche Telekom Sim cards in GPRS meters. The complete M2M based solution covers hardware through to managed connectivity, integration, roll-out and operations services.

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