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One of the main goals of INASEP in the next few years is to get its entire fleet connected in online mode. All the sites were originally connected via a dial-up line, but this outdated technology was gradually replaced by DSL. Since 2011, M2M has been added to the DSL as one of the methods for supporting communication.
Towards more effective monitoring
Before opting for M2M via GPRS/3G, INASEP was already using several forms of telecommunication in order to be able to track the status of these sites (water purification plants, pumping stations etc). The web has become the chief medium for monitoring: “Online technologies allow live monitoring. Whereas switched telephony means having to wait for a certain amount of time for a connection which all too often ends with an error message,” notes Pol-Henry Lebrun, head of the Remote Monitoring Unit and on-call service.
Limited costs and quality of service
Pol-Henry Lebrun talks about how they came to introduce M2M: “At each of our sites we have installed a terminal with an embedded modem which transmits data about the activity of the site to us quite frequently via DSL. A full-scale migration to DSL was financially out of the question. That is why, on the terminals at 50 sites, we favored mobile over landline, and installed M2M cards which communicate with our offices by GPRS/3G.” The selection of M2M depends on one precondition: the bandwidth required at the site. “The M2M is used at the small sites that can work with a lower bandwidth than would be provided with a DSL line since, if they require rapid, live communication and therefore have to be online, there are no administrative needs since there are no agents working there.” There is another condition for M2M, this time at the level of the supplier: the availability of the mobile network, on which the quality of the phone call depends. “The GPRS coverage from Proximus was a deciding factor in our choice. Since the quality was the equivalent to that of a voice phone call, the basic principle I used was the number of bars on my mobile phone when I was at the sites that would potentially be connected by M2M … In other words, places that are always very low-lying, since they are always near bodies of water!”
Greater security for users
The quality also depends on the design of the solution. “Belgacom agreed to perform a single trial in the form of a reallife test, at an acceptable cost, for a solution that matched our aim to separate the communicating devices. We thus installed an APN at our headquarters, a completely independent private network. Its dedicated antenna and GSM router communicate directly with our terminals.” Along with the monitoring and web-based reporting, the reliable transmission of alerts, which remains the No. 1 priority for INASEP, requires that the two methods of communication have to be available. Each alert is sent by e-mail. However, Pol-Henry Lebrun wanted a supplier who would be capable of providing an active SMS redundancy on all the sites (and in the case of an emergency shut-down, that the two media could be used simultaneously). “SMS, which works from mobile to mobile, without an intermediary, is the most secure system,” he pointed out before concluding: “Belgacom also met that specific requirement. I have nothing but praise for the responsiveness of our contacts there, who promptly put us in contact with the internal staff with the correct skills.”
INASEP groups together expertise in water purification in the province of Namur (39 municipalities), an area of water supply, a consultancy office and an analytical laboratory.
For more information on machine-to-machine, visit the Belgacom website or contact your Account Manager.
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