This project, supporting Cults Telecom Services Limited, was established to demonstrate the capability of a low-power, wide-area network (LoRaWAN) to provide connectivity, test information and a hands-on demonstration that an Internet of Things (IoT) - transferring data over a network without requiring human-to-human or human-to-computer interaction - is feasible in offshore environments.

Offshore Energy 4.0

Low-power, wide-area network feasible in offshore environment, reducing the cost of communication

IoT encompasses any device or sensor, connected to the internet, capable of capturing data. This can apply to measure pressure, temperature, vibration, CCTV, air quality and noise levels. How devices connect with the internet varies, examples include wired LAN, Wi-Fi and mobile phone networks. Wireless connections must obey the laws of physics and radio, balancing the bandwidth, power draw and distance covered. Long range radio (LoRa) sits at the very narrow bandwidth end of this radio communications spectrum, meaning that it only sends small packets of information at a time, insufficient for voice communications or video.

LoRa technology has been used to develop LoRaWAN secure IoT networking. The “secure” element is a vital part of the equation as the ease of use and connectivity is also a vulnerability. These characteristics, matched to the huge growth in the availability of low costs sensors and radio chips means that there has been an explosion in free standing battery-powered “things”, generating small data packets and using LoRa as a means to connect to the internet. Most media headlines around IoT will be dealing with these consumer deployable devices and some form of LoRa communications technology often referring to Smart Cities or Smart Homes. However, if you dig a bit deeper there are industrial applications, which are having huge impacts on existing industries and generating new opportunities.

In particular, the project set to demonstrate whether LoRa (long-range radio) technology has viability in an industrial offshore setting (on the drill rig) by performing a site survey for signal coverage above deck.