There’s still a lot of ‘runway’ in gas monitoring to be realised and the deployment of NB-IoT (Narrow-Band Internet of Things) represents a big opportunity in the US gases industry.
That’s the view of Nick Marco, Sr. Business Development Manager of Industrial Gas at Otodata Technologies, speaking during gasworld’s Lands of Opportunity webinar on Friday (3rd December).
Sponsored by DOD Technologies, the webinar explored the US industrial gases market as both the original land of opportunity and a market reloaded with market drivers and opportunities.
Marco joined Wise Telemetry, a leading provider of remote monitoring devices and services for the industrial gas industry, in 2018. The Pittsburgh-based company was acquired in April (2021) by Otodata Technologies, itself a designer, developer, and manufacturer of market-leading remote level monitoring products and technologies for a variety of industries.
In recent months, Wise Telemetry had also announced a partnership with Ratermann Manufacturing that will see the latter’s cryogenic tanks equipped with the former’s solutions. Marco affirmed he sees such partnerships as the way forward as the digitisation of the industry continues to accelerate, and noted the trend for monitoring more assets ‘beyond just bulk tanks’.
When asked about potential opportunities in gas monitoring that are still waiting to be realised, Marco said that there’s still a lot of ‘runway’ in assisting customers on deployments of bulk tanks, as well as the deployment of NB-IoT (Narrow-Band Internet of Things), a lower power, wider area network.
Pressed on this further during the webinar’s Q&A session, Marco explained why NB-IoT capabilities are going to be so important for the industry and customer return on investment (ROI).
“I know a lot goes on in terms of the release of new networks, and we hear a lot about 5G coming out. 5G is really designed to help download videos faster on your cell phone, and other such applications. But NB-IoT is going to be a network that’s designed for Internet of Things (IoT) applications.”
“The principle of it is really based on the wavelength of the cellular frequency that goes out, and it’s going to first of all allow us firstly to optimise the coverage because the area is going to reach more broadly. Secondly, when a device wakes up and connects to cellular, that’s one of the most power-intensive steps in the telemetry process and the way that this new network is going to be designed, it’s going to facilitate the taking of battery life on a device from something that may have been five years to, if it’s been designed correctly, you may get 10 years. That’s due to the sheer power-draw that’s related to how the cellular network is going to be designed.”
He continued, “Again, part of this is going to come down to ROI, as you’re looking at new installations and you can say, I can put a device out there that’s going to take advantage of this new lower-power network and not have to touch it for a longer amount of time. That is going to play a role in any evaluation of your return on that investment. So we’re definitely excited about that.”
Clarifying that this is going to be a really big opportunity in the US, Marco affirmed, “Absolutely. It’s a network that’s been operating in Europe for a while. We’ve seen LTE-M in the US, which a lot of players like us are utilising already, and this is going to be an advancement on that.”
‘Tremendous opportunities and efficiencies’
Fellow panellist Jim Appledorn of ARC Services, a now-retired industry veteran that spent 43 years with Lincoln Electric until as recently as 2020, agreed such advances in digitisation as NB-IoT and other technologies are exciting sources of development for the industry.
“It’s very exciting to be learning about on my end of things, in gas applications,” he said.
“What I had seen out there were really some of the interesting digitisation of welding processes and welding equipment that are associated with those gases. There are systems out there that will transmit data on every weld that’s being made in a production shop, and systems that will monitor wires being used and whether it’s time for a tool crib to key up a fresh drum of mid-wire. So on the gas side of things and on the welding side of things, the ability to monitor equipment has created tremendous opportunities and efficiencies.”
“In large plants, one of the things that was being worked on towards the end of my time was the ability for an operator to weld on a large fixture and the equipment would know which weld was being made and would change parameters on the fly.”
“It’s some pretty fascinating, futuristic stuff that’s being applied to what sometimes feels like a very traditional industry.”
Lands of Opportunity, Part 2: Asia-Pacific
If you enjoyed this week’s webinar focusing on the US Land of Opportunity, don’t forget to register for Part 2 this Friday, exploring the new lands of opportunity emerging in the Asia-Pacific region, only at gasworld.tv.