Smart Waste Containers: Enevo testing Elisa’s new NB-IoT network

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Wireless sensors installed in Enevo‘s waste containers and connected to Elisa‘s new NB-IoT network monitor the filling rate of containers and indicate when they need to be emptied.

This solution is a precursor of 5G that transfers large volumes of data produced by networked devices for utilisation. In the future, similar sensors will be able to, for example, monitor how concrete dries and hardens from within.

This solution based on a new technology improves the efficiency of Enevo, a company specialising in the optimisation of waste management, as it can empty waste containers at just the right time.

“This solution makes use of the latest mobile network technology, NB-IoT, to connect simple and inexpensive devices, such as sensors, to the Internet. As a result, our customers can easily analyse the data collected by wireless sensors”, says Vice President Petteri Svensson from Elisa.

This new network technology produces multiple benefits for Enevo. As less power is needed to transfer data in the NB-IoT network, the batteries in waste container sensors last longer. While the current service life of devices is 3–10 years, this new technology extends it to up to 10–30 years. Data can also be collected much more often. Mikko Syrjälahti, R&D director at Enevo, estimates that the total price of device operations will decrease by as much as 50 per cent as a result of the extended service life of devices.

Another advantage of the NB-IoT is that it allows us to update the features of devices online, unlike competing technologies, Syrjälahti says.

Sensors monitor when a wastewater disposal well is full or concrete has dried

The NB-IoT network also has a wider coverage area than the 4G network. As a result, connected devices can be installed in more challenging applications, such as structures of buildings.

“In the future, we may even have sensors in underground wastewater disposal wells to monitor when they are full or inside concrete to indicate when it has dried. Because devices only require a small amount of network capacity, there can be a high number of devices in a small area. What is more, data can be transferred in the NB-IoT network in both directions. This allows us to update devices remotely”, Svensson says.

Sensors installed in waste containers are the first step in a long line of technological advances.

“We believe that this NB-IoT technology allows us to provide our customers with new applications and new ways of collecting and using real-time data in decision-making processes. The NB-IoT is a global standard. As it operates at a licensed frequency, there is minimal network interference. In addition, Elisa is able to use its own network and ensure that devices operate safely and without any interruptions”, Svensson says in summary.