Proving the Business Case for the Internet of Things

Demand management over LoRaWAN trial

William Payne
October 14, 2016
Low power wide area networking specialist Actility and Australian LoRaWAN network operator National Narrowband Network Co (NNNCo) will test a scalable demand management solution for Ergon Energy. The trial is taking place in Queensland using NNNCo’s group multicast technology coupled with Actility’s ThingPark IoT platform to control hot water usage at a granular level.

Ergon Energy has one of the lowest customer densities of any utility company, resulting in very long distribution lines, making load variation and management a key issue for the company. The company’s trial solution, developed with NNNCo and Actility, will enable it to connect beyond substations to individual household power consumers such as hot water.

Later this month, Ergon Energy is beginning a 6-month trial with a small number of households in Townsville, Queensland, where sensors are being installed on hot water circuits. The LPWA IoT solution will give Ergon Energy granular control to switch individual loads on and off so that they can be reduced where needed and in times of peak power demand without impacting customers.

“Historically when faced with network constraints energy utilities upgraded their networks. However that increases infrastructure costs and places upward pressure on electricity prices. Our approach is to think outside the square,” said Ergon Energy’s Sanjeewa Athuraliya, Telecommunications Architect and winner of the company’s 2015 Innovation Challenge. “With the trial of this IoT solution,” he said, “the company gets the capability to control the load using accurate and timely information at a granular level. For example, it may change the time that a household’s hot water is heated up so that it occurs when network load is low. This could allow Ergon Energy to run its network more effectively, increase the longevity of the network, and save customers money over the long-term. “

“The successful implementation of end-to-end Multicast functionality results in a truly cost effective, robust and scalable two-way network service that can support remote over-the-air configuration and software upgrades in addition to group control of endpoint devices.” said NNNCo Founder & CEO Rob Zagarella. “This opens up additional use cases that require non real-time monitoring and control capability such as public lighting, agricultural irrigation, water, Infrastructure and building automation. Demonstrating this capability in one of the most challenging environments puts us in pole position for growth across these segments both in Australia and globally via partnerships with the other LoRa Alliance™ member operators around the world.”

“NNNCo is working in close partnership with Actility to leverage their Network Server and IoT Platform which has been successfully deployed by operators around the world,” said NNNCo’s Rob Zagarella. “This is enabling NNNCo to provide a carrier-grade nationwide service to our enterprise customers. Actility’s global footprint, experience and leadership position within the LoRa Alliance coupled with local support has positioned us well for growth in the Australian market.”

“We founded Actility because we were convinced that IoT technology could improve efficiency and make our economy more sustainable. Equally, NNNCo’s implementation of end-to-end multi-cast technology will also enable many new uses cases for LPWA networks, and demonstrates the power of open standards and a large ecosystem to drive innovation,” said Actility CTO and Founder Olivier Hersent.