I had the pleasure of visiting the The Things Conference 2022, the largest LoRaWAN event in the world. Organized by Things Industries in Amsterdam on September 22 and 24. The conference hosted about 1500 IoT professionals, 50 exhibitors, and 70 speakers.
On Thursday and Friday, 22 – 23 September, I went to the flagship event about LoRaWAN, the Things Conference. With a view of Amsterdam across the water, the Kromhouthal was a beautiful location. I was joined on the conference by 1500+ top IoT professionals and 50+ leading industry players and my colleague Robbrecht van Amerongen. I got to learn more about LoRaWAN (Long Range Wide Area Network ) from 70+ curated keynotes and workshops.
LoRaWAN makes use of gateways which form a network. The messages sent by devices are small and lightweight and have high latency. You can connect a sensor or device to any gateway. The gateway will then send the message from the sensor to the network server. The network server then routes the message to the correct application server without being able to read the message. The application server is in under the user’s control and can be created for free on the things network website. This means that if there is a gateway nearby, you can connect your sensors to your application server using a gateway by someone else.
The main story throughout the conference was the transition from public to private LoRaWAN networks. The technology has grown a lot since the kickstarter of the things network in 2015. What started as a community-based initiative is growing into a professional IoT network.
The main topics of the speakers were about deploying devices at scale. How to go from a proof of concept to an actual network of devices inside a company. Deploying sensors by the thousands and how to manage all these devices.
Most of the speakers were LoRaWAN sensor developers and platform creators. One component in the IoT chain that was lacking in my opinion, was integration. Which is good news for AMIS because that is where we come in.
A few use cases that caught my attention.
One was a project by Shell and TWTG to measure vibration of machines. By getting this data they had a better insight in the maintenance of those machines. Where a licensed mechanic had to do a routine check on all machines regularly, they can now send a mechanic only when a machine needs maintenance. This saves them not only working hours for the mechanic but also the equipment they carry. As well as continuous monitoring of all the assets instead of once during the routine check-up from before.
Another cool use case was about water consumption in farming. They stated that their data showed that the farmer in this case overwatered his plants with an average of 25%. With the use of precision watering per plant or zone and measuring the soil they could reduce water, energy, and overall efficiency of the plant growth.
There is definitely a need for a long-range network with the ease and security that comes with the LoRaWAN network. The network has grown up a lot since the start and companies are starting to adopt the technology. It’s not just a proof of concept anymore but an established technology where companies feel comfortable investing in. Though there is still a gap in the implementation. It seems that companies are willing to adopt an end-to-end IoT solution instead of just the ability to gather data. I bought myself a LoRaWAN starter kit so we can fill in this void.