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Is LoRa a 'must be' for Industrial IoT?

As the remote application market is growing rapidly, technology also needs to progress, ensuring greater range and transmission speed while reducing energy consumption. Technological progress makes it possible to create innovative standards for new, sophisticated applications that facilitate our life and work. One of wireless connection choices can be LoRa technogoly.

What exactly is LoRaWAN?

LoRa (Long Range Radio) technology with low data throughput allows IoT and M2M applications to communicate wirelessly over 15 kilometers, with a battery life of more than 10 years. LoRa allows you to connect millions of wireless nodes with compatible gateways and has several key advantages over other wireless solutions. For example, it uses spectrum spreading modulation with the ability to demodulate a signal 20 dB below the noise level.

LoRa uses license-free sub-gigahertz radio frequency bands like 433 MHz, 868 MHz (Europe) and 915 MHz (Australia and North America). LoRa enables long-range transmissions (more than 10 km in rural areas) with low power consumption.[4] The technology is presented in two parts: LoRa, the physical layer and LoRaWAN (Long Range Wide Area Network), the upper layers.

Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/LoRa

Compared to 3G and 4G cellular networks, LoRa technology is also better scalable and more cost-effective for embedded applications. It has a much greater range than other popular wireless protocols, which allows devices to operate without amplifiers, reducing the total cost of the application.

Thanks to scalability, reliable communication, mobility and ability to work in difficult external conditions, the LoRa module is perfectly suited for use in a wide range of wireless monitoring and control applications that do not require high transmission speeds. Examples of applications may include smart city (street lighting sensors, motion sensors), energy (intelligent measurement of electricity / water / gas consumption) and industrial / commercial / home applications, among others HVAC, intelligent devices, security systems and lighting.

LoRa Coverage
LoRa coverage. Source: https://lora-alliance.org/

Use of LoRa in industrial automation

Use of wireless connection makes life and work easier for us every day – from radio stations and GSM to Wi-Fi wireless networks, Zigbee, short-range Bluetooth connectivity and LoRa. With the spread of internet access, the possibility of using wireless connectivity for a new type of service and application has opened. Terminology such as M2M (Machine to Machine) – remote communication between devices and IoT – a network of applications and devices communicating with the Internet have been created.

Device equipped with LoRa module is delivered with a LoRaWAN protocol stack, so it can be easily connected to the existing, fast-growing LoRa Alliance infrastructure – both in privately managed local area networks (LAN) and public telecommunications networks to create wide area low power WAN (LPWAN) on a national scale. LoRaWAN stack integration also allows connection to any microcontroller, such as ModBerry industrial device from TECHBASE.

LoRa vs NarrowBand-IoT. What is better for Industrial IoT?

Low-power wide-area (LPWA) technology meets the needs of multiple IoT markets for low-cost devices that maintain long battery life and low-cost, large-area networks that support large numbers of connections. However, LoRa (LoRaWAN) and NarrowBand-IoT have the most momentum and will gain the largest share in the LPWA market in the next few years.

Many technology articles compare LoRa and NB-IoT technologies as if they were battling it out for dominance in the IoT market. In reality, these technologies are two branches within an emerging technology ecosystem. Similar to WiFi and Bluetooth, they will most likely to diverge into different niches, rather than directly compete with each other. This article will dive deeper into the capabilities, costs, longevity, maturity, and other differentiators of NB-IoT and LoRa-based technology.

Source: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/nb-iot-vs-lora-its-ecosystem-race-art-reed

Sigfox/LoRa and NB-IoT in direct comparison

As a result of the research, performed by Tauron, it was found that SigFox and LoRaWAN technologies have limited applications due to the use of the unlicensed ISM band (868 MHz). In addition, each of the three technologies tested has a limit on the transmission channel speed. LoRaWAN, unlike others, allows the construction of an autonomous, separate network dedicated to the needs of the owner.

LTE NarrowBand-IoT technology, as a 3GPP standard, is being increasingly implemented by subsequent mobile operators in the world and in European countries like Poland. For example, polish main frequencies of NB-IoT implementation are 800 MHz and 900 MHz, which allows achieving high coverage of the country.

Research carried out by Tauron has shown that, considering the security of the solution, the availability of telecommunications infrastructure, or the speed of data transmission (important for meter reading), LTE NB IoT technology is closest to use in the energy sector.

Source: https://www.telko.in/tauron-lepiej-ocenia-nb-iot-niz-lora-i-sigfox

Both LoRa and NB-IoT standards were developed to improve security, power efficiency, and interoperability for IoT devices. Each features bidirectional communication (meaning the network can send data to the IoT device, and the IoT device can send data back), and both are designed to scale well, from a few devices to millions of devices.

Source: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/nb-iot-vs-lora-its-ecosystem-race-art-reed

Use of LoRa/NB-IoT in industrial automation

Use of wireless connection makes life and work easier for us every day – from radio stations and GSM to Wi-Fi wireless networks, Zigbee, short-range Bluetooth connectivity and LoRa / NarrowBand-IoT wireless solutions. With the spread of internet access, the possibility of using wireless connectivity for a new type of service and application has opened.

ModBerry 500 / ModBerry 9500

Device equipped with LoRa module is delivered with a LoRaWAN protocol stack, so it can be easily connected to the existing, fast-growing LoRa Alliance infrastructure – both in privately managed local area networks (LAN) and public telecommunications networks to create wide area low power WAN (LPWAN) on a national scale. LoRaWAN stack integration also allows connection to any microcontroller, such as ModBerry industrial device from TECHBASE. Such solutions offer also NarrowBand-IoT and full 4G/LTE support.

In the toughest annual race of this kind, Tor des Géants participants run over 300 kilometers and overcome altitude changes at 24 kilometers in less than 150 hours. The Everynet solution based on LoRa monitored runner locations during the event for the fourth year in a row to ensure the safety and health of participants. Each runner is equipped with a LoRa based sensor that sends geolocation data in real time to the Everynet gateway, which is implemented during the race.

The race organizer chose the LoRa Everynet app because the race location in the Italian mountain range is obviously not covered by the mobile network. In addition, the long range capability and low power consumption of the LoRa device ensure consistent and reliable runner position data during the week of the race. Most devices consume less than 30% of the total battery capacity as a result of an incident. After the introduction of the Every des application on Tor des Géants, race employees could often intervene directly to ensure the safety of the runner.

With LoRaWAN-based connectivity, Everynet was able to simply and efficiently provide coverage to the entirety of Tor des Géants, including difficult terrain, without requiring additional network infrastructure,” said Antonio Terlizzi, Sr. Vice President of Global Sales for Everynet. “Combining the strong network coverage of LoRaWAN with reliable tracking sensors provides race organizers with the accurate, consistent and real-time data necessary to keep runners safe and help ensure a successful event

LoRa Coverage
LoRa coverage. Source: https://lora-alliance.org/

Use of LoRa in industrial automation

Use of wireless connection makes life and work easier for us every day – from radio stations and GSM to Wi-Fi wireless networks, Zigbee, short-range Bluetooth connectivity and LoRa. With the spread of internet access, the possibility of using wireless connectivity for a new type of service and application has opened. Terminology such as M2M (Machine to Machine) – remote communication between devices and IoT – a network of applications and devices communicating with the Internet have been created.

ModBerry M500 with Raspberry Pi’s 4 on-board

Device equipped with LoRa module is delivered with a LoRaWAN protocol stack, so it can be easily connected to the existing, fast-growing LoRa Alliance infrastructure – both in privately managed local area networks (LAN) and public telecommunications networks to create wide area low power WAN (LPWAN) on a national scale. LoRaWAN stack integration also allows connection to any microcontroller, such as ModBerry industrial device from TECHBASE.

The leader of LoRa and RF technology, Semtech will continue to support the LoRa ecosystem by introducing a new portfolio of solutions called LoRa Edge to simplify and accelerate IoT applications for edges. LoRa Edge is a new, versatile, new low-power LoRa platform that enables a wide range of indoor and outdoor asset management applications in the industrial, construction, housing, agricultural, transport and logistics markets.

Semtech continually delivers Internet of Things (IoT) solutions that simplify and accelerate the development of LPWAN applications,” said Pedro Pachuca, Director of IoT Wireless in Semtech’s Wireless and Sensing Products Group. “LoRa Edge and LoRa Cloud geolocation services enable customers to develop ultra-low-power applications for a variety of industries and will expand the mass adoption of LoRa in the IoT ecosystem.

Source: https://www.semtech.com/company/press/semtech-releases-a-new-portfolio-of-solutions-lora-edge-to-simplify-and-accelerate-iot-applications
Semtech's LoRa Edge introducing new LR1110 chip

LoRa Edge LR1110 features

Multi-Purpose Radio Front-End

  • 150 – 2700 MHz continuous frequency synthesizer range
  • GPS/BeiDou scanning
  • Wi-Fi passive scanning

Low-Power LoRa/(G)FSK RF Transceiver

  • Worldwide frequency bands support in the range 150 – 960 MHz
  • High power PA path +22 dBm
  • High efficiency PA path +15 dBm
  • Fully compatible with the LoRaWAN® standard

Cryptographic Engine

  • Hardware support for AES-128 encryption/decryption based algorithms
  • Handling device parameters such as DevEUI and JoinEUI
  • Protects confidential information such as encryption keys
  • Stores NwkKey, AppKey, as defined in the LoRaWAN standard

Use of LoRa in industrial automation

Use of wireless connection makes life and work easier for us every day – from radio stations and GSM to Wi-Fi wireless networks, Zigbee, short-range Bluetooth connectivity and LoRa. With the spread of internet access, the possibility of using wireless connectivity for a new type of service and application has opened. Terminology such as M2M (Machine to Machine) – remote communication between devices and IoT – a network of applications and devices communicating with the Internet have been created.

Device equipped with LoRa module is delivered with a LoRaWAN protocol stack, so it can be easily connected to the existing, fast-growing LoRa Alliance infrastructure – both in privately managed local area networks (LAN) and public telecommunications networks to create wide area low power WAN (LPWAN) on a national scale. LoRaWAN stack integration also allows connection to any microcontroller, such as ModBerry industrial device from TECHBASE.

ESP32-based LoRa / LoRaWAN wireless network

One way of long-range and low-power data transmission is LoRa wireless technology. Since the Internet of Things market (with ESP32 – based solutions) is mainly covered with short-range Wi-Fi and Bluetooth and long-range with 3G / NarrowBand-IoT technologies, LoRa oftens is omitted or simply unknown by IoT users. Below you will find a short representation of what LoRa is and how can it be used.

What is LoRa / LoRAWAN network?

LoRaWAN® network architecture is deployed in a star-of-stars topology in which gateways relay messages between end-devices and a central network server. The gateways are connected to the network server via standard IP connections and act as a transparent bridge, simply converting RF packets to IP packets and vice versa. The wireless communication takes advantage of the Long Range characteristics of the LoRa physical layer, allowing a single-hop link between the end-device and one or many gateways. All modes are capable of bi-directional communication, and there is support for multicast addressing groups to make efficient use of spectrum during tasks such as Firmware Over-The-Air (FOTA) upgrades or other mass distribution messages.

Source: https://lora-alliance.org/about-lorawan

Industrial use of LoRa & ESP32-based solutions

One of industrial IoT devices, supporting LoRa wireless technology is ESP32 based eModGATE from TECHBASE. Economical, ESP32-based solution can serve as an end-point in any installation or works well as a gateway, gathering data from scattered sensor mesh across the installation. For more information and also Raspberry Pi based solutions check Industrial IoT Shop with all the configuration options for eModGATE.

eModGATE with ESP32
Raspberry Pi based controller with Modbus, M-Bus & MQTT support

Raspberry Pi Compute Module 3+ based ModBerry industrial computer series use latest Compute Module 3+, powered by Quad-core Cortex-A53 1.2GHz processor, 1024MB LPDDR2 RAM and up to 32GB Flash eMMC. The module increase the device’s performance up to ten times, maintaining low power consumption and optimal price of the solution. Raspberry Pi based ModBerry features industrial protocol support, e.g. Modbus, M-Bus, SNMP, MQTT and the possibility to add new protocols with ease.

ModBerry protocol modularity

ModBerry 500 hardware modularity

The main features of ModBerry Industrial Computers series are the extension capabilities to increase input/output number, add up to 4 internal wireless communication modems and modules, support additional features such as accelerometer or opto-isolation options.

ModBerry 500 series offers wide range of industrial interfaces e.g.: digital inputs/outputs, analog inputs/outputs, relay outputs, serial RS-232/485 ports, Ethernet, 1-Wire, CAN, USB 2.0, HDMI, LTE/3G/GPRS, NarrowBand IoT/LTE, GPS, ZigBee, WiFi, Bluetooth, LoRa and many more via extension modules.

ModBerry hardware modularity

Raspberry Pi based industrial computer ModBerry expands to new platforms, setting new trends on the industrial automation market. ModBerry series offers now a variety of new processing units, wider range of possible applications due to much higher performance than before. We introduced ModBerry M700 based on NanoPi platform, Intel-based ModBerry M1000 with UpBoard computing module and latest ModBerry 400 to complete Raspberry Pi platform with economical device for further upgrades with extension modules.

ModBerry remote management

The iMod platform guarantees a quick start and full use of the ModBerry computer, without the need to write complicated software. One of the main advantages of the iMod platform is its ease of use and variety of available functionalities. Due to the available SDK, the platform can be extended with new, dedicated functionalities.

iMod can be installed directly onto ModBerry device or using external PC outside the installation (iModBOX). The third option is using dedicated hosting server to host the iMod software (iModHOST).

iModCloud Ecosystem

Another product is iModCloud software-service, which enables full control of ModBerry/iMod devices. Together they form a stand-alone solution – iModCloud Ecosystem, a combination of cloud services with web-based user interface and industrial devices, fully manageable remotely.

iModCloud can be hosted externally, using stable DELL servers to host the cloud service.(iModCloudHOST). For higher data security or depending on project features, iModCloud can be hosted internally, inside the installation (iModCloudBOX) hosted by the dedicated Mini-PC or from portable memory stick (iModCloudSTARTER).

More information Raspberry Pi based industrial device

TECHBASE provides solutions for industrial automation, telemetry, remote access and integration with IT systems. Since 2012 the company has been actively developing its competences in the market. Due to an innovative approach – based on the use of cutting-edge technologies, open standards and easy to maintain products – the company has earned the trust of Customers all over the world.

TECHBASE’s mission is to provide our Customers with tools, which will shorten and simplify the process of system implementation. With open architecture and high level of configurability, maintenance of a system is not expensive anymore.

To read more about ModBerry 500 M3 solution, download PDF datasheet: http://a2s.pl/products/ModBerry/ModBerry_500M3_EN.pdf
Read more about all ModBerry Industrial Solutions at: https://modberry.techbase.eu/

UP Board Squared ModBerry M2000

First Industrial IoT device based on UP Board

In 2017, the first unit that entered the ModBerry series was a device called ModBerry M1000, utilizing the capabilities of Aaeon’s UP Board platform. The solution uses Quad-core Intel Atom x5-Z8350 processor with 4x 1.44GHz frequency (boost up to 4x 1.92GHz), up to 4GB RAM and 64GB eMMC on board. The platform also features USB 3.0 and Gigabit Ethernet 10/100/1000Mbps for faster communication and supports various operating systems, e.g.: full distribution of Microsoft Windows 10 Pro/Home/IoT, Microsoft Windows 10 IoT Core, Linux and Android.

To read more about Industrial ModBerry solutions, visit: https://iot-industrial-devices.com/

New base platform for Industrial ModBerry device

New addition to TECHBASE’s Industrial IoT Ecosystem is Modberry M2000, powered by Aaeon’s UP Squared development platform, to maximise the performance of Gateway Layer and provide the best data management for end-point layer, built with Industrial Moduino ESP32 devices.

ModBerry M2000 is an industrial computer series designed for the needs of automation, telecommunications, remote supervision and monitoring. ModBerry M2000 comes a choice of processor: Dual-Core Intel N3350 2×2.4GHz or Quad-Core Intel N4200 4×2.5GHz, 2/4/8GB and 16/32/64/128GB eMMC on-board with possibility to expand the storage even further with SATA3 & M.2 slot.

ModBerry M2000 platform can be extended with supported ExCard modules, including physical industrial interfaces: RS-232/485 ports, Digital I/Os, Analog I/Os, Relay, Ethernet, 1-Wire, USB, CAN; and wide range of wireless communication modules: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth GPRS/3G/LTE, for energy-efficient NarrowBand-IoT/LTE cat. M1/NB1, GPS, Wireless M-Bus, LoRa, ZigBee and many more.

ModBerry device and be equipped with dedicated iMod software platform to support standard protocol, such as MQTT, MODBUS, SNMP, M-Bus and many custom protocols. iMod – an innovative software platform allowing for quick start-up and full exploitation of device capabilities without the need for writing programs. A fully configurable system is reflecting typical C-L-V (Convert-Log-Visualize) use. Of course, the PLC software for creation of algorithms in the ladder system with the capability of operation on ModBerry device services the MODBUS protocol is also available.

To order sample devices, visit our new Industrial IoT Shop and ask our Sales Department via chat about new ModBerry M2000: 

Various data connection protocols & MQTT data management solutions

To take full advantage of the TECHBASE’s Industrial IoT Ecosystem’s capabilities, you can build your own installation, depending on project requirements, choosing from variety of Gateways (Gateway Layer) to control data collected from an array of Moduino edge devices (Sensor Layer). Moduino can be programmed in one of open software platforms, e.g. MicroPython to gather the data and send it, using MQTT standard protocol, further to Gateway and/or cloud service.

Both Moduino ESP32 and Pycom-based Moduino supports open & free libraries, shared by Pycom, tested and approved by constantly growing ESP32/Arduino community. TECHBASE company has plans to provide an open-source platform for managing services & remote configuration and control of endpoint Moduino devices using MicroPython.

MQTT Data Management

Wide range of protocol support

All TECHBASE’s solution can be empowered with iMod software incl. protocol support for industrial interfaces, e.g. M-Bus, Modbus, SNMP, MQTT. iMod software works seamlessly with Node-RED using MQTT protocol, allowing use of bacnet and direct control over devices I/Os with Google’s platform-neutral protobuf – extensible mechanism for serializing structured data and zeroMQ controls to connect the code in any modern language, on any platform. The protocol drivers library can be expanded with CODESYS development system to support PROFIBUS, CANopen, EtherCAT, PROFINET and EtherNet/IP.

The latest version of Raspberry Pi development board, Raspberry Pi Model 3 B+, is now available as a platform for ModBerry M500 industrial computer series. Raspberry Pi 3 Model B+ (Plus) offers has more computing power and much greater possibilities in the field of wired and wireless communication.

The biggest new feature introduced in 2016 is the Raspberry Pi 3 wireless support. Now the creators took a step forward and refined the solution. The new Raspberry Pi 3 Model B+ – supports two-band Wi-Fi (2.4 GHz and new 5 GHz), Bluetooth version 4.2  and Ethernet over USB 2.0 (up to 300 Mb / s). Upgraded ModBerry M500 series is powered by s more powerful heart, in the form of a Broadcom BCM2837B0 quad-core processor clocked at 1.4 GHz. Power-over-Ethernet support has also appeared, and heat dissipation has been improved.

ModBerry M500 on Raspberry Pi 3 Model B+

ModBerry M500 vs ModBerry 500(CM3)

Standard ModBerry 500 series is based on Raspberry Pi Compute Module 3, an industrial version of commercial Raspberry Pi branch, with flagship Raspberry Pi 3 Model B+. Used Compute Module is more suitable for custom products, such as our ModBerry 500 industrial computer, which can be adapted to customer’s need with wide range of extension modules from TECHBASE. ModBerry equipped with CM3 can be configured to support chosen number of RS-232/485 serial ports, Digital and Analog I/Os, various setup of Ethernet/USB ports, CAN interface, 1-Wire and wireless modems: 3G/LTE, GPRS/EDGE, GPS, LoRa, ZigBee, Wireless M-Bus, NarrowBand-IoT and many more.

The updated M500 availability

Currently the updated M500 samples, are available on demand. Please contact TECHBASE’s sales department via https://iot-industrial-devices.com/ contact form with specific requirements to receive an offer that will suit the project’s needs. Since the M300 update is still under the development, the development, specific datasheets will be available in mid-June. The pricing of each unit may vary on the basis of configuration and order quota.

Introduced in November 2017, the ModBerry M300 series, based on NanoPi NEO revolutionised the economic segment of Industrial IoT devices and proved, that automation and monitoring can be done effectively with low expenditure on industrial installations.

Read more: http://linuxgizmos.com/automation-controller-runs-linux-on-a-nanopi-neo-sbc/

https://www.cnx-software.com/2017/11/15/techbase-modberry%E2%80%8B-m300-linux-iot-gateway-%E2%80%8Bis-powered-by-nanopi-neo-board/

To ensure constant development of TECHBASE’s solutions and cutting-edge technology, the NanoPi platform part of ModBerry series is expanded by updated ModBerry M300 N2 product, based on NanoPi NEO2. The new addition features Quad-core Cortex-A53, twice more RAM than previous version of NanoPi NEO and Gigabit Ethernet for fast communication.

For even wider range of communication interfaces and application possibilities, TECHBASE offers now ModBerry M300 N2+ based on the NanoPi NEO Plus2. M300 N2+ is equipped with 8GB eMMC, features more USB ports, Gigabit Ethernet port like M300 N2 and is supported with onboard Wi-Fi/Blutetooth 4.0 to ensure many channels of data management.

ModBerry M300 series can optionally support an external 2.5″ SATA hard disk and 2242 SSD storage units with M.2 interface thanks to onboard JMS567 USB to SATA controller. With extra storage space, data management of specific installations would be more convenient than sending all unprocessed data into cloud or directly to user.

OrangePi capabilities

To meet the Industrial IoT market demands the ModBerry family joined new embedded computer platform, offering adjustable solutions for every industrial installation. ModBerry M300 O1/O2 series is formed by two OrangePi module boards offering different approach to IoT than NanoPi solutions.

ModBerry M300 O1 based on OrangePi Zero Plus features Allwinner H5 (Quad-core Cortex-A53) SoC, moderate 512MB RAM, storage memory option with microSD slot, USB and Gigabit Ethernet port. The wireless communication is supported with onboard Wi-Fi module.

Offering much higher performance and wider feature range, the ModBerry M300 O2 features same SoC as M300 series, but thanks to OrangePi Zero Plus2 means, the device is equipped with onboard 8GB eMMC, extra microSD expansion slot as alternative and wired/wireless interfaces, e.g. HDMI, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0.

ExCard modules to peak the performance

Every TECHBASE’s industrial computer is supported by ExCard add-on modules for extra RS-232/485 serial ports, Ethernet ports, PCIe slots, analog input and output, digital I/Os, relays, M-Bus interface, opto-isolation, accelerometer, etc. To provide specific communication paths, ModBerry can be rigged with additional Wi-Fi/Bluetooth module, 3G/LTE, NarrowBand-IoT, LoRa, ZigBee, GPS and Wireless M-Bus.

The latest options for ModBerry series are:

  • SuperCap expansion, to provide constant power supply as a UPS option
  • OLED 0.96” & new OLED 1,3″ screen, allowing the control without the need of connecting into the device
  • ESP32 module as a security chip, to add a firewall into control installation and ensure constant operation of the device, even with power drops and random events
  • Aluminum case, to grant much higher durability for extra harsh industrial conditions
  • Mentioned earlier SATA/M.2 SSD controller for extra data storage

The updated M300 availability

Currently all the updated M300 samples, including M300 N2, N2+, O1, O2 are available on demand. Please contact TECHBASE’s sales department via https://iot-industrial-devices.com/ contact form with specific requirements to receive an offer that will suit the project’s needs. Since the M300 update is still under the development, specific datasheets will be available in mid-February. The pricing of each unit may vary on the basis of configuration and order quota.