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In Another Burst of Tech Innovation Driven by COVID-19, Livestock Drug Producer Keeps Plants Open Using IoT and LoRaWAN

By Andrew Athanasian March 18, 2021

While we are seeing encouraging signs of the COVID-19 global health crisis starting to slow, we are not out of the woods yet. While the economy in the U.S. and globally is as much of a crisis as the pandemic, innovators and entrepreneurs are developing solutions that are keeping businesses operating, and not just in the obvious “Zoom” way.

For essential industries and other sectors which require in-person labor, innovation in the form of IoT technology has allowed companies to return to job-sites and factories and to enable automated monitoring, management, and maintenance, using various sensors, monitors, and other “things” to improve efficiency, increase safety, and help business’ bottom lines. This includes ensuring compliance in the drug and pharmaceutical industry.

IoT solutions are also fundamental to ensuring social distancing and contact tracing.

Zoetis, an American livestock drug provider and the largest drug company in the world employing nearly 10,000 individuals, has resorted to IoT technology to help keep their Japanese plants operating.

Zoetis recently partnered with Actility, a French IoT solutions company, to implement Actility’s LoRaWAN-based Detection and Contact Tracing Solution for COVID-19.

According to an announcement distributed earlier this month for Zoetis, the technology offers them reassurance that they are unlikely to be shut down by the Public Health Department, which reserves the power to request all employees stay home for 14 days. The resultant supply chain security benefits Zoetis and its partners around the world as the risk of productivity losses is hedged.

“Zoetis needed a solution to show the Public Health Department objective data evidence to minimize the amount of people staying at home and consequently avoid temporary shutdowns of their business,” said Hideo Kato, Director, Customer Service and Operations at Zoetis Japan. “With the Actility LoRaWAN Safety Solution, Zoetis was able to automate the monitoring of new safety policies while empowering employees as part of the new normal in business operation.”

As we continue to adapt to our “new normal,” Covid policy surrounding the in-person return to work and schools revolves around two concepts: the enforcement of adherence to social distancing guidelines and contact tracing.

Each employee is outfitted with an Abeeway Proximity Sensor, which enables efficient and easy monitoring of interactions between employees.

Upon detection of a protocol violation, an alarm will alert the employees, and data on proximity will be recorded.

Later, this data will ensure that any contaminated groups will be traced, halting the spread of the virus.

Instant contact tracing, achieved through the use of these devices, is significantly more effective as the system is “real-time” compared to the average 3-day delay associated with traditional human contact tracing.

“This compliance solution protects workers by ensuring?secure social distancing, but it is also protecting the continuity of corporate operations and – by avoiding costly full shutdowns- provides instant ROI,” said Takashi Matsubara, Asia Region Sales Director at Actility. “Using LoRa Technology, Actility is able to offer IoT devices with both long-range capabilities and a long battery life.

These devices are equipped for deep penetration of ground, concrete, and steel, geolocation, public or private networks, and various other features.

Using IoT devices offered by Actility Zoetis can keep factories open while also being prepared for any future epidemics or pandemics, complying with regulations, and improving safety for workers.

The global LoRaWAN market is projected to reach U.S. $5557 million, growing at a very high compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 47.2% between2019 to 2027, according to market research firm InForGrowth.

There are several differentiators for LoRa devices and the LoRaWAN protocol that have driven in its widespread adoption, including long-range connectivity, battery lifetime, security, network architecture, and network capacity.

LoRaWAN uses 868 MHz/ 915 MHz ISM bands which are available worldwide and generally have a coverage range of about 3 miles in urban areas and 9 miles in suburban areas. This networking protocol consumes less power and lengthens the duration of battery life.

With a simple architecture, it is simple to deploy and is widely used for M2M/IoT applications and supports three different types of devices (Classes A-C).

Edited by Maurice Nagle
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