PK Solutions taps Nokia, Cradlepoint to offer private LTE in CBRS for oil and gas sector
Industrial services firm PK Solutions is deploying private LTE in the 3.5 GHz CBRS band in the US for the oil and gas sector. It is working with Nokia and Cradlepoint on the offer.
PK Solutions, part of the PK Companies group, is based in Wichita, Kansas. It serves the petrochemical, aerospace, commercial, and manufacturing industries as well. The collaboration with Nokia and Cradlepoint is for oil and gas refinery sites.
The company sells safety-focused IoT devices and wearables to track biometric and gas-related data, along with providing real-time video footage. However, limitations with local-area Wi-Fi network coverage in large sites have seen the company switch focus to private LTE in CBRS spectrum.
PK Solutions offers digital inspection and workforce optimisation software to maintain communications, eliminate inefficiencies, and improve worker safety at refineries. The software makes use of data gathered from a variety of on-site devices, including gas monitors, biometric monitors, the tablets, and the wearable devices.
The company need to be able to track environmental readings and workers’ vital signs inside hard-to-reach locations as well, including inside towers that are hundreds of feet tall. “Our main focus is the health and safety of the people going into those towers,” said Justin Nickel, director of marketing at PK Companies.
PK Solutions has deployed Nokia’s LTE-based radio and core networking gear, along with Cradlepoint’s cloud-based networking management service and for various unnamed oil and gas companies.
The company tried Wi-Fi and public LTE, but discovered challenges around insufficient coverage and network congestion. Nickel commented: “Wi-Fi just doesn’t provide the coverage we need for the things we’re trying to connect across large areas.”
He added: “When you’ve got workers inside confined spaces, needing connectivity with their lives at stake, Wi-Fi just doesn’t get the job done.”
Besides, public networks struggle to meet the needs of industrial deployments where robust performance, low latency, and reliable coverage are critical, according to Cradlepoint. “Public LTE is an excellent WAN link for most IoT use cases, but it proved problematic as a wireless LAN source across a large area,” it said.
Ben Burrus, chief technology officer at PK Solutions, commented: “Quality-of-service is something we can’t control on a public LTE or Wi-Fi network.”
The company has deployed private LTE based on Nokia’s plug-and-play Digital Automation Cloud (DAC) offer with ruggedized edge-based routers and cloud-based network management from Cradlepoint.
Burrus said: “Private LTE is fantastic because we can arrive at an oil and gas company’s job site, put up temporary towers, and control bandwidth and who’s using it — all while harnessing the same technology that the carriers use… With Private LTE, you can say, ‘Here’s my group of devices that need top priority. If there are bandwidth congestion issues, shut these other devices off so safety professionals’ devices always work’.”