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LoRaWAN: The future of IoT communication

The Internet of Things (IoT) plays a central role in a digitalized world. It not only connects people, but also machines, devices and sensors. LoRaWAN, a special wireless network protocol, was created to ensure efficient and reliable communication between these nodes.

But why exactly is LoRaWAN so revolutionary for IoT and IIOT communication? What advantages does the technology offer for industry and where is it already being used - keyword condition-based monitoring? Find out this and more now!

LoRaWAN stands for "Long Range Wide Area Network". It is a wireless network protocol that was specially developed for the Internet of Things (IoT). LoRaWAN enables communication between IoT devices and application servers over long distances (up to 15 km).

With its long range, low power requirements and ability to manage a large number of connections, LoRaWAN is ideal for applications such as remote monitoring of sensors, meters and other IoT devices.

Another advantage: its open protocol and global distribution enable broad use and interoperability. This means that different systems, devices or applications can connect and communicate with each other - automatically.

A LoRaWAN network consists of several components: LoRaWAN-capable end devices (nodes), gateways, a network server and an application server.

  1. The end devices such as sensors (e.g. temperature or pressure sensors) send their data to the gateway.
  2. The LoRa gateway receives the signals, connects to the LoRA network server via a standard IP connection and forwards the collected data packets. Depending on the scope and topological conditions, several gateways may be required..
  3.  In the next step, the data is transmitted from the network server to an application server, from where it can be accessed via PC or smartphone.

Good to know: The network uses several frequency channels and dynamically adapts the data rate to the quality of the wireless connection. This enables fast data transmission and minimizes radio channel occupancy. In addition, several sensors can be integrated into one network without causing interference between the sensors.

LoRaWAN offers a security standard that works on two levels: One level for the network and another for the application. The network security ensures the authenticity of the node in the network. The application level, in turn, ensures that the network operator does not gain access to the user data. The AES method is used for encryption, with the key exchange taking place via an IEEE-EUI64 identifier.

LoRaWAN technology also relies on end-to-end encryption, which protects the data during the entire transmission up to and including the operator's core network.

In practice, this means that the data is encrypted by the end device, e.g. a sensor, and only decrypted after transmission on the server - bidirectional communication. This ensures data security at all times.

LoRa und LoRaWAN sind zwei miteinander verbundene, aber unterschiedliche Technologien.

  • LoRa steht für "Long Range" und ist eine Funkmodulationstechnik. Sie wurde speziell entwickelt, um eine hohe Reichweite bei geringem Energieverbrauch zu ermöglichen und dabei kleine Datenmengen zu übertragen.
  • LoRaWAN hingegen bedeutet "Long Range Wide Area Network" und ist ein Kommunikationsprotokoll oder Netzwerkstandard, der auf LoRa aufbaut. LoRaWAN definiert die Systemarchitektur und Kommunikationsprotokolle, die benötigt werden, um LoRa für die Netzwerkkommunikation in einem Wide Area Network (WAN) zu nutzen.

Kurz gesagt: LoRa bezieht sich auf die physikalische Übertragungstechnik, während LoRaWAN die Netzwerkstruktur und Protokolle definiert, die diese Technik nutzen.

LoRaWAN offers numerous advantages, especially for IoT applications:

  • Long range: LoRaWAN can transmit signals over distances of up to 15 km in rural areas and 2-3 km in urban areas.
  • Good coverage: LoRa technology can effectively penetrate obstacles such as buildings and vegetation, making it ideal for use in urban and industrial environments.
  • Low energy consumption: Data transmission with LoRaWAN is very energy efficient due to the low data volume and short transmission times.
  • Long battery life: Devices using LoRaWAN often have a battery life of up to 10 years.
  • Data security: LoRaWAN offers a high level of security thanks to end-to-end encryption.
  • Cost efficiency: By using license-free frequency bands, operating costs can be kept low.
  • Open standard: As an open standard, LoRaWAN is supported by a broad ecosystem of hardware and software providers.

In principle, LoRaWAN is available wherever a LoRaWAN network is installed. This can be initiated by various organizations. More and more cities, local authorities, energy suppliers and telecommunications companies are driving the expansion forward. LoRaWAN is very popular not only in Germany, but worldwide.

The availability of LoRaWAN is often higher in urban areas. However, the range and penetration capability also make the technology particularly attractive for rural or remote locations.

The LoRa Alliance plays a key role in the expansion. It is a global association of companies that promote LoRaWAN and thus want to support and implement the Internet of Things (IoT). It is backed by technology groups such as IBM, Google, Amazon, Orange, Cisco and Microsoft.

Effective condition-based monitoring with LoRaWAN technology

Condition Based Monitoring (CBM), i.e. the monitoring of the condition of machines and systems through continuous data acquisition, can be made possible with LoRaWAN technology. Why? Mainly for these reasons:

  1. Range: with the ability to send data over long distances, LoRaWAN can cover a large number of machines and systems in a large geographical area.
  2. Energy efficiency: The devices that use LoRaWAN have low energy consumption, making them ideal for monitoring equipment to identify anomalies or trends.
  3. Scalability: LoRaWAN can support numerous devices and sensors in a network, making it possible to monitor a wide range of parameters.

Application examples for LoRaWAN

LoRaWAN offers a wide range of possible applications in industry and in the CBM sector:
In industry

  • Industrial automation: LoRaWAN can be used to network sensors and actuators in order to monitor machine performance and detect maintenance requirements in good time.
  • Building automation: LoRaWAN is used to control lighting, heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) and security systems.
  • Environmental monitoring: Sensors connected via LoRaWAN can be used to monitor air quality, temperature, humidity and other environmental conditions.
  • Energy management: LoRaWAN helps to audit and control energy consumption in industrial facilities to improve efficiency and reduce costs.
  • Agriculture: In agriculture, LoRaWAN provides monitoring of soil conditions, weather data and animal health. The aim: to increase efficiency and productivity.

In the area of condition-based monitoring

Example applications for LoRaWAN in condition-based monitoring include monitoring vibrations and temperatures in motors and bearings, monitoring liquid levels in tanks or monitoring environmental conditions in storage facilities. The collected data is then analyzed to determine the condition of the machine or system and to make important maintenance decisions.

A. Hock products with modern LoRaWAN technology

From modern vibration sensors to end-to-end complete solutions for setting up a LoRaWAN network - at A. Hock you will find the right product to get you started with effective condition-based monitoring.

If you have any further questions about LoRaWAN in industry, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Dominic Hock

Dominic Hock

Managing Director

I’m happy to support you with projects and enquiries in the field of valve technology as well as measurement and control technology. My areas of expertise are automation technology and networks.