Vernetzen is an industrial network and cybersecurity specialist, founded on a focus of delivering practical solutions to promote and secure Australian industry. Their technical teams consist of a mix of IT programmers, network engineers and traditional engineers such as chemical, electrical and mechanical that provide the ideal spectrum of skill sets in ICS where engineering and IT converge.
As the area is prone to weather extremes such as high temperatures, droughts and flooding, the primary issue to be addressed was water management. During the dry season, every drop of water needed to be conserved in order to allow mine operations to continue. Previously, staff were required to record manual water level readings twice a day from the various pools located around the site. If data is not being collected in real time, it becomes more difficult for staff to mitigate potential issues, or make the most sound decision for the best outcome. Power is not readily available at most remote sites, and in this case the pools were located many kilometres away from the centralised location. In addition, the client requested that all the data was to be stored in local servers at the mine site.
M2M Connectivity’s Design Services engineers worked with Vernetzen to create a cost effective solution which could be retrofitted to compliment the existing sensors. A private LoRaWAN network was judged the best solution to fulfil all the requirements, as it:
- Allowed long-range transmission of data over many kilometres, and
- Extended the devices’ battery life by many years*.
By utilising a Kerlink LoRaWAN Base Station with embedded network server (SPN), data could be gathered and kept on the premises. The next stage of the project was to carry out on-site radio planning, using field testers to map out the best locations for LoRaWAN coverage, and detect any black spots.
The professional service provided by the M2M engineering team envisaged work on several levels:
- On-site assistance on the best way to implement the network.
- Once this was established, sensor integration and programming took place.
- M2M Connectivity assessed the existing water level measurement system, and introduced: – Edenworth and Unidata bridging devices to talk to the sensors and the LoRaWAN network.
- The final step was provisioning the LoRaWAN Base Stations, and bridging devices with the relevant profile.
- In addition, M2M Connectivity trained Vernetzen’s project staff on base station and end device management, and gave support on integrating the LoRaWAN Network into their SCADA system.
In the end the solution benefit was twofold; firstly, MMG was able to monitor water levels in close to real time on a SCADA system. Secondly, with the new LoRaWAN network now in place, it has enabled them to monitor other assets, including sewerage levels from the staff facilities