Our relationship in the food sector plans to measure liquid levels and report on line at hundreds of locations in Europe using ultrasonic sensors and with a modest budget. Wifi as a connection method was excluded so we practically had to limit ourselves to NB-IoT, Sigfox or LoRa. Based on this customer demand we conducted market research on Make or Buy possibilities of a necessary IIoT Gateway. We started from a device based on a standard industrial Raspberry Pi architecture and/or motherboard.

The general requirements were as follows:

  • Wide-ranging deployability and future expansion possibilities
    • Think of switching functions (LED lighting on sensor device, warning signals, etc.) in addition to sensors and/or a (touch)screen for local operation/feedback.
    • For this we use Node-RED as IoT wiring software.
    • Possibility for local printing of information on a printer device
  • Robustness of electronics in (rough) practical conditions of the food sector
  • Availability and sufficient support for a certain period of 5 years.

The more specific technical requirements relate to

  • Interfacing with at least RS485
  • Connection of a display (optional touch)
  • Choice of LPWAN interfaces
  • Support of Ubuntu Snaps

This market investigation ultimately showed that in this case the best choice can be made by:

  1. Create your own IIoT Gateway using an existing ARM / RPI motherboard.
  2. Develop additional LPWAN modules or combinations (e.g. existing semi-finished products) in order to have freedom of choice in the LPWAN techniques NB-IoT, Sigfox or LoRa.
  3. In view of the budget, a Pycom FiPy module has been looked at for the last time as a semi-finished product.

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