KPN Things Explorer a no-brainer for ThingsConnect

April 5, 2023

ThingsConnect approaches things a little differently on the IoT market. They are an IoT start up with a strong focus on IoT dashboarding.

"If you walk around a fair and it's about IoT, you often hear 'technical stories' about sensors, chips, and routers. There is much less attention to dashboarding, even though it should be about visualizing the data," says ThingsConnect CFO Willem van Ingen. "Without visualization in a dashboard, you don't know what's going on and you don't really have a solution."

Van Ingen illustrates his point with an example: a school that installs CO2 and temperature sensors. "Only when you visualize the data in a dashboard you can see when the CO2 levels rise during the day and you can adjust the ventilation accordingly. Or you discover that it was still over 21 degrees inside during the Christmas holidays. That is an important learning moment, especially during the current energy crisis. You’re seeing where you waste energy and why."

As a service

ThingsConnect therefore focuses on the combination of sensoring and dashboarding, for example for measuring, monitoring, and where necessary, improving indoor climate. "We set the parameters so that an alert is triggered when a value is exceeded. In addition, we offer a 'visualization map' with suggestions on what to do when such an alarm is triggered. Hardware is merely a means to an end."

"We also offer our solutions 'as a service’," says Robert de Jager, co-founder of ThingsConnect. "For a monthly fee, you get access to the hardware, connectivity, and a dashboard for unlocking the data. Our model also makes an IoT project financially feasible. If a school installs smart radiator valves, you easily get to a hundred radiators and therefore a hundred smart valves."

Premium connectivity

For large numbers, ThingsConnect connects the sensors through a gateway to KPN's 5G network. "KPN always offers our customers premium connectivity in the Netherlands, but also abroad due to roaming agreements," says Van Ingen.

For smaller numbers of sensors, ThingsConnect chooses to connect the sensors directly to KPN's LoraWAN IoT network, as it has done for an industrial bakery. "It is important for this company that the temperature in the refrigeration cells is always constant. We provide monitoring with temperature and door sensors and dashboarding. When the temperature rises above a certain level or a door does not close properly, we provide an alarm message. The bakery can then intervene quickly and prevent damage."

"For indoor coverage, KPN's LoRaWAN network proved to be the perfect solution," Van Ingen continues. "KPN also offers good coverage in an environment such as a refrigeration cell with thick walls. LoRaWAN sensors are very energy efficient, making batteries last up to ten years. That was also important in this case as you don't want to depend on power outlets in a refrigeration cell."

KPN Things Explorer

With the KPN Things platform, sensors and other devices can easily be connected to KPN's LoRa network. The Things Portal contains all the tools needed to ensure optimal functioning of an IoT solution. The coverage can be monitored for each connected sensor in a dashboard.

ThingsConnect used KPN Things Freemium during the development of the solution for the industrial bakery. With this, companies can experiment with IoT capabilities for free and seamlessly scale up if the solution works. According to Van Ingen: "KPN provides a great entry-level model to test with a limited number of sensors. You quickly find out how LoRa sensors work, or you can connect whatever you want and check if you have good connectivity. And all of this for free."

"When you outgrow the testing phase and connect more LoRa sensors, you automatically scale up to KPN Things Explorer," Van Ingen continued. "With this, up to a thousand devices can be connected.” De Jager added: "And the nice thing is that the as-a-service model is also included here. You pay a monthly fee per connected LoRa sensor."

Logic transition

"A logical transition for us was to switch from Freemium to Explorer," concluded Van Ingen. "Everything went smoothly during the testing phase. KPN offers good national coverage, and the personal contact with KPN is very pleasant. And therefore, there is no reason to switch to another supplier.”

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