250,000 fuel tanks to join the internet of things

5 Sep 2017

Image: Archy13/Shutterstock

M2M-connected fuel tanks will help consumers manage their heating and automatically order new fuel when needed, as part of a new deal.

More than 250,000 fuel tanks around Ireland and the world could soon be connected to the internet of things (IoT) thanks to a €1m deal signed between Sigfox player VT Networks and Dunraven Systems.

Sigfox is an ultra-narrowband internet of things network operating in 32 countries worldwide.

‘Each device has a battery life of over 10 years and takes advantage of the low cost and low power of Sigfox’

The technology is optimised to provide a low-cost, low-power option for connecting simple devices directly to the cloud. Devices that only need to send small amounts of information can operate on battery power for up to a decade.

VT will provide 250,000 global Sigfox subscriptions to Dunraven, a leading player in the design and development of ultrasonic fuel tank monitors, equal to 35pc of the total number of machine-to-machine (M2M) subscriptions currently live in Ireland on Vodafone, Three or Eir networks.

Data is the fuel of the internet of things

250,000 fuel tanks to join the internet of things

From left: Michael McCaughley, business manager, Dunraven Systems; Mark Bannon CEO of VT Networks; Gerry Jones, managing director, Dunraven Systems; and Will Ferguson, COO of VT Networks. Image: VT Networks

Dunraven monitors fuel tanks in various fields, such as home heating oil.

Through the deal with VT, Dunraven can build devices that connect automatically to the cloud. Uses include automatically ordering a fuel refill, which would prevent emergency callouts on winter nights and ultimately reduce the running costs of fuel tanks by more than 50pc.

Speaking with Siliconrepublic.com, VT Networks co-founder Will Ferguson explained that VT has been working with Dunraven for more than a year.

“The company sells all over the world and devices will be deployed globally, taking advantage of the global nature of Sigfox.

“Each device has a battery life of over 10 years and takes advantage of the low cost and low power of Sigfox.

“Even more interesting is the devices reduce the cost of physical maintenance by 50pc, leading to obvious cost savings and whole new business models where consumers are empowered to transform their home heating needs. Farmers, for example, would be able to see changes in oil levels immediately. For oil companies, it turns the interaction with consumers into an on-demand service.”

Ferguson said that 750,000 homes in Ireland use home heating fuel tanks, so the deal with Dunraven could be revolutionary.

“We are always looking for ways to enhance and future-proof our products, and indeed the experience we provide to our customers,” said Michael McCaughley, business manager with Dunraven.

“Having accessed the IoT space, it became quickly apparent that adding Sigfox was the obvious choice, both financially and technology-wise. Innovation has been the catalyst to our success and the addition of the Sigfox solution to the range will certainly significantly contribute to our business expansion.”

Updated, 12.07pm, 5 September 2017: This article was updated to clarify the type of network provided by Sigfox.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years