Does your company have workers operating in remote locations? New low-cost systems are now available to automate safety check-ins. Geofencing controls automatically monitor vehicles operating in secured areas or notify management of speeding violations. Best of all, off-the-shelf solutions make this kind of automation more affordable and customizable than ever before.
Iridium SBD (Short Burst Data) is used for long-term applications such as vehicle tracking and SCADA (Supervisory control and data acquisition). A typical example of a SCADA application would be to monitor whether a fuel tank in a remote area was nearing empty and automatically send a short message notifying the monitoring organization so that it could refuel the tank. SCADA applications typically involve very small amounts of data but Outfitter Satellite offers Iridium SBD plans with various bundle sizes for every application.
SmallTrack Vehicle Tracking
One of the most common applications of Iridium SBD is global vehicle tracking. The SmallTrack is a self-contained device with an IP67 Ingress Protection Rating for use in harsh environments. It has an embedded battery that can operate the SmallTrack for at least one week if external power is unavailable. It has embedded Iridium, GPS, and GLONASS antennas but also can use an external antenna set. Automatic or manual switching between the external and embedded antennas is possible. In addition to tracking continuously at frequencies between 1 second and 24 hours, the SmallTrack can initiate tracking for specified time-slots or when motion is detected by the SmallTrack's embedded accelerometer or when entering or exiting predefined zones. Geofencing alarm notifications can be generated for excessive speed violations or entering/exiting of predefined zones stored in the SmallTrack's memory. Two (2) manual configurable buttons allow personnel in the field to perform regular safety check-ins or indicate an emergency. Alarm messages are sent via SMS/email or through a web-based portal so that operators can react in seconds to emergencies. In addition to alarms, the SmallTrack can collect data from sensors connected to external devices e.g. compressors, pumps, temperature gauges, etc. Finally, if the SmallTrack's configuration needs to be changed, commands can be sent from the web portal application.
Developing your own custom solution
For many SCADA applications, only small amounts of data are necessary, and this makes Iridium SBD ideal. It provides global coverage that is reliable and relatively independent of terrain or weather using a small low-power device. Typically, a highly skilled OEM or equipment integrator develops the SCADA device by integrating a small microprocessor, an Iridium SBD transceiver and other peripheral measurement electronics. A variety of careful choices are necessary to develop a prototype. For example, will the prototype be powered with an internal battery? Would a solar charging system provide sufficient power to recharge this battery or will external power be available? Can the duty cycle of the prototype be reduced to save power? A useful prototype cannot need regular human intervention. How will the device recover if its internal program crashes? (Yes, that happens.) Typical components that will be necessary include the following:
Iridium 9603 transceiver
Microprocessor with 256 Mbit flash memory
Digital and/or analog I/O port
Serial communication interface for use with third party devices
Inertial sensor with tri-axial accelerometer and gyroscope chip
SMA connectors for the Iridium and GPS antennas
Battery pack or power supply
In addition to the prototype SCADA device itself, it is necessary to develop a secure web portal application to display the data gathered by the prototype, manage automated alert notifications coming from the prototype, and allow commands to be sent to the prototype. Very often it is necessary to integrate the prototype and web application with other existing database software through an API.
The Iridium 9603N Developer Kit is available for experienced OEM and equipment integrators that do not need assistance from Outfitter Satellite to perform the development. Our role, in this case, is simply to provision the Iridium SBD device and bill its monthly usage. Short-duration Iridium SBD plans are available for development purposes. Volume equipment pricing is available when the OEM is ready to expand beyond a single prototype device. For a comparison of the Iridium 9603N with other Iridium SBD products, click here.
Inmarsat BGAN M2M
Iridium SBD is not economical for usage exceeding 100 KB of data per month. Inmarsat BGAN M2M has a much lower operational cost for SCADA applications requiring up to 20 MB per month. Among the drawbacks of BGAN M2M, it has a higher hardware cost and is only suitable for fixed-site applications.
Let us do the development for you...
If the application is clearly defined, off-the-shelf equipment and existing cloud-based web portal software can be used to quickly develop your prototype and web application. Products like the Edge Pro and Edge Pro Solar in many cases represent a good basic foundation for your prototype.
An initial consultation will be given at no charge. We can provide tentative estimates and discussion on the operational cost and major hardware component costs of your application. If you decide to proceed with the project, a consulting agreement will be required for the development. The specifications for your project will be developed carefully. Once these specifications are approved, a prototype system and web application will be developed. Please contact us, if you are interested in a custom development.