Ferry company Stena Line deploys dual-band LoRa/LoRaWAN for cargo tracking
Swedish ferry company Stena Line has deployed a dual-band LoRa/LoRaWAN-based network, with IoT gateways and devices in unlicensed spectrum, on its Stena Hollandica roll-on/roll-off (ro-ro) passenger ferry, following work by US chipmaker and LoRa-owner Semtech, together with Netherlands-based IoT companies SkyLab and HeNet. The project is geared for maritime logistics and condition monitoring, the trio said.
Stena Hollandica operates in the North Sea between Harwich and Hook of Holland, providing a twice-daily seven-hour commute. In maritime parlance, ro-ro ships, offering familiar ferry services, differ from lift-on/lift-off (lo-lo) vessels, which use a crane to load and unload cargo. SkyLab said LoRa/LoRaWAN, at 2.4 GHz and sub-GHz spectrum, is “perfect for maritime companies… to assist with… 28,000 departures”, in particular to track cargo.
SkyLab provides IoT tracking and monitoring solutions, with a focus on smart cities and smart buildings, and a line in LoRa/LoRaWAN networks, gateways, and sensors. HeNet is a subsidiary of Dutch cryptography and blockchain company Velorum; its LongAP line of gateways includes a Helium LoRaWAN-blockchain gateway, called LongAP One, plus LongAP Pro and Light outdoor/indoor offers, which “serve different IoT networks, including Helium”.
The new gateway deployments for Stena Line, handled by SkyLab, based on the LongAP family, offer dual-band LoRa connectivity in the 2.4 GHz ISM band and traditional LoRaWAN in sub-GHz spectrum. A statement said: “When there is a need to continually track and trace across vessels and land carriers in different regions of the world, a gateway offering ubiquitous coverage utilizing the 2.4GHz and the sub-GHz bands can simplify the roaming of trackers and sensors.”
The 2.4GHz frequency band works the same in every country, meaning LoRa-based IoT devices in the band will work globally – although they may contend with chatter and congestion from Wi-Fi and other short-range technologies. As yet, the LoRaWAN protocol, which utilises the same LoRa-based hardware layer, is not yet optimised for the 2.4 GHz band, and remains locked into various sub-GHz bands in different regions.
Remy de Jong, technical director at SkyLab, said: “Asset tracking and condition monitoring at sea is now easier than ever through our work with Semtech and its LoRa 2.4GHz technology alongside HeNet’s LongAP Pro gateway. As a result of the joint collaboration, we’re offering a unique dual-band network that is perfect for maritime companies, such as Stena Line, to assist with the approximately 28,000 departures yearly while ensuring client/customer satisfaction and safe tracking/monitoring of the millions of tons of cargo on the vessel.”
Marc Pégulu, vice president of IoT product marketing and strategy for Semtech’s wireless and sensing group, said: “In a current time where global supply chains are under pressure to increase visibility and predictability, Semtech is continuing to solve these challenges with the expansion of our LoRa portfolio with multi-band capabilities. Simplified and cost efficient multi-band support is unlocking potential new uses in worldwide asset tracking such as maritime logistics, through the all-in-one capabilities of LoRa.”