Ericsson IoT Accelerator helps to Enable Remote Micro-factories in Africa

16-10-2020 | By Robin Mitchell

Telenor Connexion, a global cellular communications provider, have utilised Ericsson IoT Accelerator platform to enable Wayout’s micro-factories in Africa. What is the Ericsson IoT Accelerator, who is Wayout, and what are micro-factories?

What is the Ericsson IoT Accelerator Platform?

With the continuing rise of IoT devices around the globe, being able to manage them is becoming more of a challenge. A handful of home devices connected to a single Wi-Fi network can easily be managed with an app, but with IoT devices in the tens of billions, and the estimated number of IoT devices reliant on cellular networks to exceed 4 billion by 2024, most platforms will struggle. Ericsson, a major cellular technology provider, has developed Ericsson IoT Accelerator, which is a unified IoT platform designed to allow for devices to be easily managed across the globe no matter which cell network they connect to. According to Ericsson, the IoT Accelerator platform allows for low-risk investment and fast time to market by providing reduced complexity for IoT services.

What is Wayout Water?

One of Africa’s leading issues is providing safe, clean water for residents. Currently, many of those who have restricted access rely on bottled water which is often packaged far from where it is needed, and this not only produces environmental waste (in the form of empty bottles) but also contributes to climate change via the production of CO2 to move the water in its packaging where it is needed as well as the construction of the bottles. Pumping water to remote locations is one solution to providing a reliable source of clean water. Still, many places that require water are far from developed areas such as cities, and the cost of installing pipelines for small scattered villages is astronomical.

However, one company, Wayout, have developed a solution that not only provides safe drinking water, but it can also utilise most water sources that are undrinkable and helps to eliminate the climate impact caused by bottled water. Their solution, known as WayoutWater, are small micro-factories that pump in unsafe water, perform reverse osmosis to desalinate the water, utilise UV to sterilise the water, and then remineralise the water for consumption. The produced water is then stored in 20 litre stainless steel vessels for storage, with the micro-factory being powered by solar panels. According to WayoutWater, each micro-factory can remove up to 180,000 plastic bottles, 8 tons of CO2, and provide water for up to 300 households per month.

Why is WayoutWater reliant on IoT technology?

The use of IoT technology in WayoutWater micro-factories comes from the need for an intelligent monitoring system that allows engineers to perform remote maintenance. Unlike standard factories, the WayoutWater micro-factories will most likely number in the thousands spread across the African continent, and hiring just one engineer per micro-factory is impractical and expensive. The use of IoT technologies to allow for remote monitoring not only provides valuable data to Wayout on how to better run the micro-factories but also reduces the total number of needed engineers, as well as providing an online service that customers can use to get alerts when water is ready for collection.

How does WayoutWater relate to the Ericsson IoT Accelerator platform?

For the micro-factory system to operate, cellular network coverage is required as well as a global IoT platform that can handle a large number of devices. Telenor Connexion, a global cellular network, recently announced that they would be providing global coverage for the WayoutWater system, and the Ericsson IoT Accelerator Platform will power this system. Telenor Connexion will also make agreements with local cellular operators to provide SIM cards as well as connection management services. 

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By Robin Mitchell

Robin Mitchell is an electronic engineer who has been involved in electronics since the age of 13. After completing a BEng at the University of Warwick, Robin moved into the field of online content creation, developing articles, news pieces, and projects aimed at professionals and makers alike. Currently, Robin runs a small electronics business, MitchElectronics, which produces educational kits and resources.