Modern agricultural systems require consistent monitoring of IoT devices and sensors to ensure crop performance and reliability.
However, transmitting a robust cellular signal to deploy machine to machine IoT devices for agricultural applications can be a difficult task due to cellular signal locations which are often underground, in tanks and silos or irrigation pivots.
Poor signal or non-existent cell signal strengths can compromise the system performance and reliability resulting in significant loss of income for customers.
AgSense, a provider of remote agricultural solutions which operates via cellular network, needed to find a reliable solution for its cellular signal devices to solve the problem of poor cellular connectivity in dead zones and ensure that real-time monitoring of sensors could reliably function 24/7 for customers, regardless of location.
“Unfortunately a cellular connectivity system is only as reliable as its signal,” said Broc Jenkins manager of National Sales at Wilson Electronics in an interview with In-Building Tech.
“AgSense put a lot of time and resources into developing a remote monitoring solution to control a variety of systems which could be accessed by customers through a phone or tablet. They needed to find a cost-effective and solid performing solution for thousands of devices across multiple locations. Our antennas served as an enablement tool to provide that connectivity.”
After successful testing, the South Dakota-based company turned to Wilson Electronics to provide more than 100,000 antennas to capture existing cell signal and amplify it to their monitoring devices.
By placing WilsonPro magnet-mount antennas on AgSense monitors, the company was able to ensure reliable and consistent communication between its devices and nearby cell towers significantly reducing system downtime.
Because AgSense remote monitoring applications did not require high amounts of data transfer, Wilson was able to replace their cellular modems with a higher gain antenna and use a relatively weak signal which is common in rural areas to solve the majority of their problems, Jenkins added.
The magnet antenna was a highly cost-effective solution, compared with the standard IoT amplifiers which can cost $150-$250 ranging in price from $14 or $15 per device, according to Jenkins.
The improved signal strength ensures that devices stay online and provide pertinent information to customers to keep farming and agricultural operations running more efficiently such as alerts about power failures or theft activity which is a common problem for farmers.
The antenna deployments also solved the problem of distance issue for irrigation pivot monitoring by eliminating the need for monitors to reside within two miles of the irrigation pivot system itself, said Jenkins.