Collaboration with MUG Engineering

In the pilot “5G monitoring in construction and infrastructure”, Omnidots is collaborating with MUG Engineering on new 5G technologies. Part of 5Groningen from the Groningen Economic Board.

MUG Engineering’s wish to monitor a building or region for vibrations and follow it from a distance in real time will soon become a reality in the 5Groningen pilot project “5G monitoring in construction and infrastructure”. MUG is working closely with Omnidots on this project.

Measuring and knowing immediately

According to Hans Hainje, head of the Geo-ICT & Geo-Info department at MUG Engineering, the arrival of affordable sensors will be a huge asset. MUG Engineering is working on measurements and spatial analyses for current and future construction projects. “In the current situation, you can actually only explain a pattern after the fact,” said Hans. “We measure at a specific time and then measure again a week later. Since we only have the measurement results after the fact, we can’t always respond to a specific situation right away.” Affordable and smart vibration sensors Omnidots makes sensors for measuring vibrations. Omnidots vibration sensors yield more data and are simpler to use, easy to install, and cheaper than other sensors. They can be used for a variety of purposes, such as measuring vibrations in buildings or during infrastructural projects. “Omnidots wants to make the sensors smarter and better by using the technology of tomorrow,” said Marko Bolt, owner of Omnidots. It is possible to review data immediately and remotely. This makes the sensors very interesting for parties such as MUG Engineering.

Real-time measurements anywhere thanks to 5G

Currently, we still rely on 3G and 4G or landlines. “Typically, we have to go to the sensor to get the readings,” said Hans. “That means that we only have the measurements after the fact. This also requires a great deal of travel time and fuel from us. Omnidots sensors can be read remotely. That is a big plus.” Thanks to 5G, the sensors can also be placed in locations without available power or data communication. “We use Narrowband IoT in the 5G. That is the low-power part in the 5G,” explained Marko. This allows information to be exchanged for a longer period of time in a more advantageous way while consuming very little energy. Furthermore, 5G enables high-speed measurements to be taken and allows these measurements to be reviewed. Using Omnidots sensors, a great deal of data can be compared simultaneously. “What is new in 5G is the focus on the delay of data transport. Thanks to 5G, there will soon be new timing options. We currently use GPS for that. Due to the low latency (delay), we expect that 5G will offer a good alternative to this.”

Total overview of measurements and characteristics

During the 5G pilot, they worked on a dashboard that would contain all measurement data, so that different data could be easily reviewed instantly and connections could be established between them. Hans mentioned that it would be highly relevant for MUG Engineering to be able to link certain characteristics, such as the age of a building, addresses and buildings in the population register, or geotechnical profiles. The measurement results of the Omnidots vibration sensor are still coming in through the Omnidots back end and can be viewed via the Honeycomb portal or the Omnidots API that is available in the MUG dashboard.

Smart bridge

The sensor technology is already being tested in practice. “We are conducting tests with sensors on bridges,” said Marko Bolt. “It is possible to automatically activate a camera when a ship sails into the bridge. The situation can be recorded and the damage that occurs can be anticipated.”

Impact of construction activities

Testing is also being conducted around the area of an infrastructural project, which involves various locations where groundwater is being pumped out. Sensors have been placed to monitor the effect on the nearby buildings. Both parties are already observing unusual patterns, which are related to the large volume of traffic at certain times and the loading/unloading of heavy materials. The impact of construction piling work near a building is also visible. “By combining the data, the patterns that we can anticipate become clear,” said Hans. “In the near future, we expect that this will enable construction work to be adjusted even more quickly, so that situations such as potential damage to buildings can be prevented.”

5Groningen pilot

Omnidots and MUG Engineering have created the link with the MUG dashboard and Omnidots has developed a 5G sensor prototype. This sensor will be tested in the project by both parties. Omnidots is continuing to work on the firmware, so that the sensor can be tested in the testing environment. Another important end product of the pilot is the creation of a dashboard into which various measurement results are integrated. MUG Engineering and Omnidots complement each other well within the project. “MUG Engineering thinks in terms of the users and the application. Omnidots specializes in and produces vibration sensors. That is a great combination,” said Marko. Other parties from the 5Groningen program are also making a relevant contribution to the pilot. Vodafone is making NarrowBand-Internet of Things connections available. The University of Groningen is providing support for the ICT infrastructure. The 5Groningen lab of the Groningen Economic Board brings all the parties together in the 5G testing ground, provides support with a grant, and makes technology such as a unique antenna infrastructure available. Marko: “We think it’s very important to lead the pack. What happens here will give us all the tools we need to explore the future.”