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Tim Kannegieter

One-way or two-way? Taggle’s unique LPWAN solution

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Two-way communication in Low Power Wide Area Networks (LPWAN) is automatically better than one-way communication, surely? Not necessarily, according to the presenter of our next webinar on remote sensing. In fact, there are cases where one way sensing is a far superior approach, such as most metering applications.

In preparing for this webinar I met with Mark Halliwell, Business Development Manager at Taggle Systems. In discussing Taggle’s approach to IoT, their decision to focus on one way sensing really stood out.

MRC-1_V100_2.jpg.68941049d26a1f97f31d1f7fafcbc300.jpgThe reasoning is pretty simple. There are many applications where you simply don’t need two way communication and having it introduces more complications than any benefits it might bring. For example security is much simpler with one way communication as there is no way an external attack can be launched on a device via the network. Secondly, power consumption is much less, as the device does not have to be constantly listening out for messages.

 There are many other nuances in the one-way vs two-way debate, which Mark will address in the webinar. But one other feature of the Taggle system really stood out. Unlike most other LPWAN systems out there, the entire technology has was developed in house, here in Australia.  This is not surprising when you look at the pedigree of the founders, which includes the developers of the world’s first 5GHz WiFi integrated circuits.

 

Image: Taggle's MRC-1 transmitter designed for use with

the most common water meter in use, the Elster V100. Curtesy Taggle

One thing for sure is that competition in the automatic meter reading industry is rapidly heating up, with just about every IoT vendor and LPWAN consultant pitching to gain market share. This is particularly so in the water industry which is opening up rapidly with utilities across the country and globally rushing to capture the benefits of IoT, which include everything from cost reductions in meter reading to deferment of capital intensive investments in upgrading water infrastructure.

With such competition, it’s no longer enough to simply offer IoT solutions. They need to be superior to other IoT solutions and this is where Taggles believe it has an advantage. By developing the technology in-house, from the chip level up and focusing on the one-way approach, it is able to optimize the solution at all levels.

Taggle has made a big bet on the question of one way versus two way communication and it appears to be paying off. Mark claims they have the largest IoT deployment in Australia, currently taking over 3 million water meter readings per day.

The company has also embraced the growing “as a Service” movement, by owning and maintaining its own LPWAN network so the customer only pays for the data and associated services rather than owning its own communication infrastructure. Software packages are provided that process the data for reporting and visualization purposes, including apps for end users.

A great case study on a Taggle deployment at Mackay Regional Council (MRC) was reported in Utility Magazine, which featured some impressive results, way before the term IoT became trendy. In 2016, a demand management campaign coupled with the Taggle system saw individual consumer water consumption in Mackay reduce from 240L/d to 210L/d, contributing to the estimated deferment of a new water treatment plant from 2020 to 2032 and helping hold price increases to zero. In that same year, around 1500 lead notifications were sent to customers and reducing the average duration of a leak from 150 days to 60 days.

 

Of course there are many other applications of IoT technology in the water industry, such as monitoring and reducing excessive pipe pressure, reducing pumping costs, preventing sewer overflows, identifying infiltration of the system . I wrote up a good case study earlier on what South East Water in Victoria is doing and this this explores some of these areas in more detail.

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