If you are working with networked devices, you may have heard of LoRaWAN use cases at one time or another. It is a long-range network protocol. It enables the networking of things with the Internet even over longer ranges with low energy consumption. This solves one of the big problems that applications within the Internet of Things have faced up to now. With a battery life of up to five years and low maintenance costs for the sensor network, the LoRaWAN can be used for a wide variety of new applications.
This gives you a brief overview of what the LoRaWAN solutions can do. In this article, we look at the architecture, key features of core technology, and the latest LoRaWAN use cases where it is used.
What is LoRaWAN Technology?
The great thing about this technology is that it is based on an open standard. It uses an unlicensed spectrum as part of the ISM frequency band (“Industrial, Scientific, and Medical”, German: Industry, Science and Medicine). In Europe, the LoRaWAN uses the 868 MHz frequency range, while in the USA the 915 MHz frequency band is released. By using the unlicensed spectrum, it is very easy to set up and use your own network. Many telecommunications operators are already benefiting from LoRaWAN use cases or offering the technology as part of their service offering in numerous countries worldwide. Comcast, KPN, Orange, SK Telecom and many other providers are actively implementing large-scale launches in their markets. This makes LoRaWAN even more interesting as a technology because it is compatible with the networks of different operators – large and small.
The LoRaWAN standard is monitored by the LoRa Alliance, which in turn consists of over 500 members who support the protocol and align many of their components, products, and services with LoRaWAN. These include companies such as MOKOSMART, ARM, Cisco, Microchip, and ST.
What distinguishes LoRa from LoRaWAN?
Let’s start with the definition of LoRa – what is it exactly and how is it different from LoRaWAN? LoRa is a wireless technology similar to more common technologies such as Wi-Fi or WLAN, Bluetooth, LTE, and Zigbee. However, technology often does not cover all requirements, which means that users have to accept compromises. LoRa meets the demand for low-cost, battery-operated devices that can transmit data over long ranges. However, LoRa is not the right solution for the transmission of data over large bandwidths. LoRa is a technology that converts data to be transmitted into electromagnetic waves. This technique is also known as the chirped spread spectrum， it has been used in military and space communications for decades. It is due to the long communication range and the low susceptibility to interference.
LoRaWAN, on the other hand, is the MAC protocol for the network of high-performance LoRa nodes based on the Internet of Things, which cover long ranges and have low energy requirements. It uses the advantages of LoRa described above and optimizes battery life and service quality for the LoRa nodes. The protocol is completely bidirectional, which ensures reliable message transmission (confirmation). End-to-end encryption is provided for security and data protection purposes, over-the-air registration of endnotes and multicast functions. The standard also ensures compatibility with LoRaWAN networks around the world.
LoRaWAN architecture mainly consists of four elements:
• End nodes
• Gateway (base stations/router)
• Network Server
• Application server
End nodes are physical hardware devices that are equipped with sensor functions, a certain amount of computing power and a radio module for translating the data into a radio signal. These end devices can transmit data to the gateway and also receive it. Even with a small battery, they can last several years if they are put into deep sleep mode to optimize energy consumption.
When a device sends a message to the gateway, this is known as an “uplink”. The answer that the terminal receives from the gateway is called “downlink”. On this basis, a distinction is made between three types of end devices:
• Class A
• Class B
• Class C
Class A devices have the lowest energy consumption compared to the other two classes. However, these can only receive a downlink if they have sent an uplink. Class A devices are suitable for the transmission of data at time-based intervals (e.g. every 15 minutes) or for devices that send data based on events (e.g. if the temperature rises above 21 degrees or falls below 19 degrees).
Class B end nodes allow more message slots for downlinks than class A. This reduces message latency but is also less energy efficient.
Finally, class C has an ongoing receive window that is only closed when the device sends an uplink message. Therefore, this is the least energy-efficient variant, which often requires a constant current source to operate.
Gateways are also known as modems or access points. A gateway is also a hardware device that receives all LoRaWAN messages from end devices. These messages are then converted into an array of bits that can be transmitted over conventional IP networks. The gateway is linked to the network server that transmits all messages.
Gateways are transparent and have limited computing power. More complex tasks are carried out in the network server. Depending on usage and type, gateways are available in two versions:
Gateways for indoor use, e.g. MKGW2-LW, MOKOSMART.
All messages from the gateways are forwarded to the network server. This is where the more complicated data processing processes take place. The network server is responsible for:
1. Routing/forwarding messages to the right application;
2. The selection of the best gateway for downlink messages. This decision is usually made on the basis of a link quality indicator, which in turn is calculated via the RSSI (Received Signal Strength Indication) and the SNR (Signal to Noise Ratio) of packets that were previously received;
3. Removing duplicate messages when received by multiple gateways;
4. Decrypting messages sent from end nodes and encrypting messages sent back to the nodes;
5. Gateways usually connect to the network server on an encrypted Internet Protocol (IP) link. The network usually includes the commissioning of the gateway and a monitoring interface that enables the network provider to manage gateways, remedy faults, monitor alarms, etc. …
The application server is where the IoT application is located – this is particularly useful for data captured using end devices. In most cases, application servers run via a private or public cloud, which is connected to the LoRaWAN network server and handles application-specific processing. The interface with the application server is controlled by the network server.
- Bi-directional communication
A terminal can transmit data to the gateway and also receive it according to the settings. These settings can also be called up within the application.
An interesting function of LoRaWAN is localization without the need for GPS. This is particularly useful for tracking systems and sensors since it is battery-efficient and can be maintained more cheaply than conventional methods.
LoRaWAN was designed for large IoT deployments in which thousands of devices are networked with a manageable number of gateways. These gateways can monitor multiple channels and process multiple messages at the same time.
Another important property of LoRaWAN is the speed with which data can be transmitted. There are different data rates that can be used for the transmission. These are also called spreading factors (SF). A slower transmission enables a longer and more reliable range.
For example, imagine you are talking to someone who is very close to you. You can speak very quickly in this situation and your counterpart understands everything you say. When you speak to someone who is far from you, you have to speak much slower to be understood. This principle also applies to the LoRaWAN protocol.
- Adaptive Data Rate
With LoRaWAN, the network can also automatically optimize the speed at which the device transmits its data. This function is called the adaptive data rate (or ADR) and is particularly important to increasing the capacity of a LoRaWAN network. ADR allows us to easily scale the network by adding another gateway. Because of this gateway, many end devices now automatically adjust their spreading factor. As a result, the individual devices are shorter “on the air”, which means more capacity for the network.
The adaptive data rate (abbreviation: ADR) is a simple mechanism that adjusts the data rate according to the following rules:
If the radio signal strength (also called “link budget”) is high, the data rate can be increased;
If the link budget is low, the data rate can be reduced.
It is important for every LPWAN to use a comprehensive security solution. LoRaWAN uses two levels of security: one for the network and one for the application. Network security ensures the authenticity of the end device in the network, while the application level ensures that the network operator does not have access to the application data of end-users. AES encryption is used for key exchange.
The network level is responsible for identifying the node. It checks whether a message really comes from a specific device and is also considered an integrity check. It can also encrypt MAC commands.
The application level is used for the decryption and encryption of payloads.
Both keys are encrypted with 128 bit AES in ECB mode.
Scenarios for LoRaWAN use cases
LoRaWAN has found its place on the market in terms of applications and areas of application. Thanks to its unique properties, LoRaWAN is best suited for scenarios like these:
1. Access to electricity (electricity) is limited or restricted;
2. The locations are physically difficult to access or very remote;
3. The number of end devices is significantly higher compared to conventional mobile phone connections;
4. The end devices do not have to send messages continuously.
How many LoRaWAN use cases are there
Many industries need to track the location and condition of valuable equipment to improve planning and operations. LoRaWAN sensors measure asset speed, load, temperature and humidity, position, vibration and other data and combine real-time and historical data to recommend maintenance before problems occur. With access to asset performance data, you can optimize your production schedule while also being notified when an asset is stolen or exceeds its intended scope.
Backflow preventer monitoring
All industrial water customers require backflow preventers at water service inlets, which prevent contamination by allowing water to flow in one direction rather than the other. Being able to sense the presence of backflow with a LoRaWAN-based line monitor and immediately send an SMS or email alert to facility managers is important for the health and safety of workers and manufacturing systems.
Cold chain monitoring
LoRaWAN is ideal for cold chain applications in the fresh food sectors and healthcare. Using LoRaWAN cold chain solution, you can track the temperature and humidity status of a product and report the temperature and humidity status to the system if the product status is abnormal, preventing the product from losing features or even breaking down.
Soil temperature and humidity monitoring
For agriculture and landscaping, proper irrigation is the key to improving crops. Soils in different regions require different amounts of water, and the LoRaWAN Temperature and Humidity detector can be used to make more informed decisions based on the measured soil temperature and humidity, increasing production and reducing water waste.
When the Earth’s resources, such as water, gas or chemicals, are in short supply, the key to solving this dilemma is to avoid resource leakage as much as possible. The water inside and outside industrial facilities will be monitored by the LoRaWAN Water Leak Detection and water immersion sensors. The system will alert the facility manager to take quick response and resolution when a failure occurs or an anomaly is detected.
Logistics and transportation
LoRaWAN technology enables supply chain and logistics organizations to track assets that need to be transported over long distances in real-time. Vehicles and cargo can be easily monitored in real time over large geographic areas and harsh environments due to the technology’s long distance and low power consumption characteristics, as well as GPS-free geolocation. A fleet tracking system connected with LoRaWAN network can keep fleets in the field longer, thereby reducing costs, improving safety, providing visibility into maintenance issues, and improving operational efficiency across the board.
Parking lot monitoring
It’s proved that finding available parking spaces enhances carbon emissions and traffic congestion. By deploying LoRaWAN sensors in parking spaces, accurate vehicle counts and detection at parking lot entrances and exits can be provided. Municipal and commercial revenue streams will be increased by capturing real-time parking data improves overall parking space utilization.
It’s necessary to protect facilities and people from contamination, damage, and rodents. However, manual inspection is time-consuming and consumes amounts of material resources and manpower. LoRaWAN’s connected pest management solution improves visibility and allows real-time monitoring from anywhere. Waterproof, rugged traps provide a safe option for rodenticides. Simple mobile app and web pairing, real-time alerts when service is needed, improve efficiency and reduce costs for outdoor and indoor rodent control programs.
Many coastal cities experience prolonged flooding during moderate to high tides tend to leave thoroughfares and nearby roads in impassable water. These issues can be resolved by monitoring air quality, precipitation and other environmental factors. Weatherproof solar power units mounted on top of bridges and light poles remotely measure water levels on land or above bodies of water using LoRaWAN technology and ultrasonic sensors. These real-time environmental monitoring systems measure extra-local weather levels and air quality to predict flooding and inform citizens of hazardous conditions.
Integrated security and safety solutions are required by nearly all industries. IoT public safety solutions provide emergency responders with innovative technologies that help reduce risk and improve personal safety. LoRaWAN technology is being integrated into personal wearables such as ID tags and equipped with an emergency button to send instant SOS and the user’s location information. These solutions, deployed on enterprise and university campuses, are designed to address the 1-second attack interval and 7-second 911 call interval for cellphone-based solutions.
Employees are increasingly mobile and rapidly shifting to an “anytime, anywhere” work philosophy. As a result, office space can be idle or overbooked, depending on unpredictable employee and visitor flows. Making the most of space has become a logistical challenge for businesses. Occupancy data obtained from LoRaWAN sensors eliminates guesswork and provides teams with actionable intelligence to enhance workplace practices, and increase employee productivity.
Steam trap monitoring
Steam is widely used in various industries. Steam heating processes in factories drive turbines in power plants. A steam trap filters non-condensed gases and condensed steam without letting the steam escape. Steam traps fail on average 10 to 30 percent per year, resulting in wasteful and costly inefficiency. Steam trap testing is a labor-intensive process that is usually done manually once a year. The LoRaWAN Trap monitoring system allows companies to frequently query their trap count to detect faults. The data is securely transmitted to the online building management system, providing dashboard reports showing whether there are traps that need to be repaired.
A reliable system to monitor fuel levels is essential. Fuel delivery companies are key partners in smart industrial supply chain operations where fuel depletion can be detrimental. Without the means to measure fuel levels remotely, truck deliveries are often inefficient, driving up operating costs and complicating the delivery of customer service. Tank level and other valuable data can be sent over the network to the tank monitoring solution used by the supply company. Moreover, industrial operations can accurately predict fuel usage. In this way, truck rolls and their carbon footprint can be reduced.
Maintaining the right temperature for valuable assets is important for healthcare, food service, and other industries. Temperature shifts can lead to catastrophic product loss. In addition to the damage to resources, these incidents can also cause brand, reputation, public image and other losses to companies. With low-power sensors, remote LoRaWAN temperature and humidity monitoring provide businesses with the ability to take readings and historical logs for compliance audits. Security measures and cost-effective protection are provided by multiple threshold Settings.
Water resources management
Commercial buildings, food and beverage processing plants, hotels, supermarkets, and car washes all produce water waste due to spills, leaks, and equipment damage. Instant notification and response are key to reducing compliance risks while reducing costs. By deploying LoRaWAN metering systems to replace outdated labor-intensive processes, the water management solution, consisting of LoRaWAN sensors, provides municipalities with a detailed total water footprint. Smart water meter solutions enable remote access to usage data and billing accounts, improving operational efficiency and generating additional service revenue.
Trash can monitoring
The system automatically sensed and monitored locations, bin filling levels, and extraction frequencies, enabling fleet operators to manage the status of work orders in real-time, and reduce labor costs. LoRaWAN-based waste monitoring solutions reduce collection expense and time. Automatic notification alerts provide smart route planning for collection service providers when bins reach a predefined threshold and eliminate unnecessary access and overflow bins for end users.
Benefits of applying LoRaWAN use cases
- Ultra-low power consumption, battery life can even reach ten years or more
- In many LoRaWAN use cases, data and/or data transfers are not constant, so the low bandwidth makes it ideal for practical IoT deployments
- Connections are low cost, easy to set up and fast to deploy because of their simple structure
- A layer of AES encryption allows people to safely use LoRaWAN without worrying about network security risks
- Open technology alliance, an open and free standard
- The remote communication and coverage range of LoRaWAN is one of the big differences between them and other technologies.
- Thousands of endpoints can be connected by a LoRa gateway, because of its high-capacity nature
What LoRaWAN use cases MOKOSmart provide
MOKOSmart focuses on providing LoRaWAN solutions with over ten years of experience. Our LoRaWAN use cases mainly include the following. Of course, there are more solutions, you can contact us for more information.
- Bluetooth Location
- Asset Tracking Solutions
- Indoor GPS Solutions
- Wearable IoT for all Industries
- IoT Smart Meter
- Cold Chain Solutions