District heating: the benefits with IoT
The monitoring of physical parameters of district heating networks has been subject to a major technological development in recent years.
Market needs have given rise to innovative solutions based on NB-IoT (Narrow Band-Internet of Things) communication networks capable of improving the management of temperature and pressure data of district heating systems, simplifying installation and reducing costs related to heat metering.
This IoT design solution, which uses standard, open and easily integrated protocols, has enabled a set of improvements related to network monitoring.
The challenge: Linea Green and remote meter reading
Onyax, an innovative Italian start-up with many years of experience in electronic hardware and software design, has dedicated itself to the research and development of solutions adopted in the IoT (Internet of Things) field, experimenting and producing a series of extremely flexible and useful products in the field of network monitoring, including for district heating networks.
Linea Green, a leading heat distributor in Northern Italy, has moved ahead of the times by carrying out specific experiments with Onyax to create the first pressure monitoring and heat metering system.
Thanks to this synergy, exploiting the latest IoT technologies, experiments were carried out in 2020 to remotely read the meters and continuously monitor the efficiency status of the network and possible associated losses.
BLACKBOX: integrated battery and remote communication
The first design requirement started with the need to be able to communicate from underground locations of equipment to the outside world. This limitation was overcome thanks to Onyax’s experience in the field of telecommunication networks, but especially thanks to the NB-IoT technology capable of better penetration even in deep environments.
The second objective was to respond to a maximum simplification of product installation by avoiding reliance on the mains power supply, thanks to a battery solution, and to manage each field operation through the use of a smartphone app, connected to Bluetooth devices.
The last requirement to be met is that of interoperability and standardisation of the communication protocol, i.e. the ability to dialogue with the customer’s management information systems for heat metering.
Linea Green, thanks to the support of distribution plant managers Claudio Barbisotti and Andrea Barcellesi, was able to experiment with IoT technology well in advance of other distributors and understood the benefits of this new technological frontier.
Simplified management thanks to the ACE platform
The simplicity of the installation allowed Linea Green to monitor a large number of points quickly and efficiently, reducing the time required to complete the work.
Thanks to the ACE platform (Acquisition and Ecosystem Control) provided by Onyax, several services could be monitored on a single IoT platform.
Through IoT devices such as BLACKBOX, RAIL or TUBE-T3, it was possible to acquire and share telemetries received by the different technical (for pressure, temperature and leakage) and accounting/administrative (for consumption accounting) departments.
The innovative approach adopted by Linea Green, which introduced IoT solutions in its remote control and telemetry processes, anticipates a concrete vision of the near future, as technologies and solutions will be increasingly oriented towards implementing simple and inexpensive objects for information management and acquisition processes.
“The ease of integration and interoperability of the Onyax solution” – explain Federico Meazzi and Davide Bellardi, Linea Green’s Technical Services Managers – “quickly made it possible to connect the telemetry network with the company’s management systems, as well as making it easy to control and learn about the parameters of the network”.
Thanks to experiences like this, Onyax is projected to become a reference point in the district heating market, as a disseminator of IoT solutions, ready to respond at a technological level, to requests that until recently were complex and expensive.