Elkome, a company who has been creating solutions for industrial measurement and data collection needs for more than 30 years already, uses the IoT network of the Finnish company Digita. IoT technology enables data collection to be expanded to new application areas and allows more versatile utilisation of data for the digitalisation of operations.

Elkome, a company developing solutions for improving the efficiency of industrial production and operations, is using the Finnish company Digita’s  IoT network in the solutions it offers to customers. IoT networks enable new ways of solving traditional customer problems.

“Digita’s LoRaWAN network covers the entire Finland, whereas we have sensors and data collection solutions that can be connected to the network. This was the natural starting point for our cooperation that was initiated early this year”, says Juha Halonen, Elkome’s Marketing Director.

Most of Elkome’s customers operate in the industrial sector. Industrial measurements and data collection are Elkome’s core competences, which the company has worked with for its entire history of 30 years. The introduction of IoT has enabled, for example, the use of wireless technology.

“The related technology has changed and developed in the course of time, but the challenges of our customers are often still the same. We have tremendously long experience and a good understanding of them,” Halonen says.

In addition to equipment import, Elkome’s operations cover turnkey project deliveries to customers. Elkome stands out from its competitors, for example, because it has a wide range of expertise under one roof: system design, implementation, installation and maintenance.

IoT sensors provide data for various industrial needs

Typical industrial measurement needs are related to the monitoring of the condition of machines and equipment. For example, when connected to a machine, a vibration-measuring sensor may alert you to vibrations that exceed a critical point, which indicates the breakdown of the machine.

“This might go unnoticed, as vibration indicating a breakdown increases steadily,” Halonen says.

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A common challenge for industries is that the automation that is controlling devices already uses many sensors, but the data collected by them cannot be transferred to the IoT system through one point.

“There are many industrial machines and equipment that use various smart features, which means that data is already being collected. Now it can be exported to IoT applications using transmitters powered by LoRaWAN technology, which enables new ways to utilise the data that is already collected.”

According to Halonen, machine and equipment manufacturers often contact them when they need a specific sensor. Today, many are already at least somewhat familiar with IoT technology. However, customers often also have problems that need to be solved by experts. For many companies, it is more cost-efficient to focus on their core competence and seek external help with measurement technology problems.

“An earth moving contractor may have 20 excavators and thorough knowledge of their use. When you need to collect data on the utilisation rate of the machines and their condition, we provide a system with which the contractor can easily see, for example, the real-time utilisation rate of the machines,” Halonen says.

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According to Halonen, IoT technology can be utilised in various industries, for example, for environmental measurements such as soil humidity and temperature and measurements related to various gas concentrations and weather conditions. For example, in an industrial area where chemicals are used, sensors can be placed in the area to measure gas concentrations and to alert when limit values are exceeded.

In the real estate sector, a wide range of data related to conditions, such as indoor temperature, carbon dioxide concentrations and air humidity, is already collected. These are familiar everyday variables for many of us. The same measurements are also needed for the monitoring of conditions in industrial buildings and production.

“In addition to conditions, IoT sensors can be used to monitor whether someone accesses the premises, whether lights are on and how the premises are accessed, which basically means traditional access control.

Another important measurement requirement is related to consumption. Measurement data related to energy and water consumption is utilised in the consumer side, where you can optimise your own consumption based on the collected data. Continuous monitoring of water consumption helps detect, for example, any leaking pipes and subsequent water damage.

“Reliable and cost-effective solution”

Digita is a Finnish company whose IoT network that was deployed in 2016 is built on top of existing radio and television mast infrastructure.

“The IoT network is based on LoRaWAN technology and has excellent performance,” Halonen says.

The greatest benefit of LoRa technology is that it is wireless and thus cost-efficient. When the same technology was previously implemented in a wired manner, it required the building of expensive data communication connections. Wireless sensors are ready for service and operate on batteries.

“Another major benefit is related to performance: a fan of an air conditioning unit can be located in a basement, where 4G coverage is by no means adequate. IoT network signals carry through walls. LoRa technology provides an extremely cost-efficient and reliable solution for wireless measurements required for long distances. Digita also has widely located access points, which ensure that the network covers places such as tunnels,” Halonen summarises.

The use of IoT technology is continuously increasing. Halonen emphasises that the technology is suitable for all industries. It can be applied in limitless ways. 

“We can provide nearly 150 different LoRaWAN sensors and transmitters, which means any amount of possibilities. It’s difficult to categorise applications into any specific industry. IoT sensors can be used in real estate, industry or environmental measurements,” Halonen says.

This article was originally published on the mtvuutiset.fi website through commercial cooperation.