Implementing LoRaWAN® Sensor Solution to Protect Buildings from Water Damage
Water leaks are a major threat to buildings of all types, causing costly and disruptive damage to the property. Water leaks in buildings are a significant source of concern for facility managers, particularly when managing commercial properties. Due to being larger and accommodating more people than residential homes, commercial properties need larger and more sophisticated systems in order to function optimally. As a result, leaks can lead to many detrimental issues, including significant insurance claims, persistent business interruption, higher water bills, mold growth, decreased property values as a result of damage, as well as higher repair bills. Seeing the aggravation of the problem, TEKTELIC and LAIIER have partnered and joined their efforts to detect and prevent water leaks using LoRaWAN® technology.
LAIIER provides innovative solutions for water conservation and damage mitigation in buildings and facilities. LAIIER works with partners in the insurance, facilities management, and system integration sectors to create more sustainable, safe, and smart spaces. The company is customer and tech-focused, so it uses printed sensor technology to create smart retrofittable sensor tapes that detect and mitigate water leak damage and costs.
Water damage in commercial buildings is a common and costly issue. From water pipe leaks to appliance failures, leaks in roofs, and building membranes, the different types of water damage impact property and businesses in different ways. Besides, water is the primary source of property damage in non-weather-related water losses, leading to business interruption, cost outlays for repair, alternative accommodation for guests, and reputation damage. In the US alone, water leaks cost $2.5 B to insurance companies annually. Furthermore, leading insurance firms have reported that water leak claims can be five times more likely than fire or burglary incidents. Keeping in mind these numbers, buildings must use continuous monitoring solutions to predict and offer proactive insights to avoid expensive and business-interrupting damage.
The main challenge here is the absence of a universal solution on the market, which will be able to fit both commercial and residential monitoring needs. Though some continuous leak-sensing solutions exist on the market, LAIIER discovered that customers were not always satisfied with the existing technology. Current solutions include flood (or spot) sensors, rope-type sensors, and inline flow meters. Spot sensors are easy to install, precise, and low-cost, but cover a very small area, meaning that they are unlikely to catch a leak early in the process, limiting their ability to mitigate damage. Rope sensors cover a large area, but can be frustrating to install, especially when laid on the floor, have limited sensitivity, and frequently require drying after a leak event before they can be re-used. Inline flow meters, in turn, can service a large pipe network with impressive precision, but are costly to purchase and install, and cannot locate the source of the leak.
With an understanding that there was a gap in the solutions on the market and a clear market need, LAIIER launched in 2021 to develop a one-for-all solution to lower or eliminate the costs of water leaks in buildings.
With the market need for an efficient and user-friendly solution for leak detection, LAIIER has united with TEKTELIC Communications to deploy LoRaWAN®-based solutions at customer sites, relying on the robustness and ease of use of TEKTELIC Gateways to provide uninterrupted coverage for customers. Severn WLD™ is the world’s first smart LoRaWAN® water leak detection system using adhesive, printed sensors. LAIIER’s leak detector is sensitive enough to pick up as little as two drops of water, helping to make facilities safer with improved operational efficiency. LAIIER Cloud provides real-time, predictive insights and timely alerts about the escape of water events.
Main Components of the Solution
LAIIER’s solution consists of a ‘smart tape’ and cloud services. The smart tape is in fact a high-resolution sensor, printed onto a self-adhesive substrate. This sensor is attached to a small enclosure containing a processing unit, battery, and a LoRaWAN® transceiver. This edge node is capable of processing data from the sensor’s 12 separate electrodes, based on the selections that the user makes in regard to sensitivity and the desired false positive rate. Data is sent to LAIIER Cloud via a LoRaWAN® gateway, where it is presented to the user in an easy-to-use dashboard that aggregates multiple devices.
The approach of using a tape-like sensor immediately appealed to customers for its ability to cover a large surface area (product dimensions are currently 50mm x 883 mm), with impressive sensitivity (detecting as little as 0.1ml of water), while being as easy to install as a piece of tape.
To establish reliable connectivity, LAIIER used TEKTELIC KONA Micro IoT Gateway. It has a plug-and-play installation, reducing set-up costs and making it fairly easy to deploy for non-technical personnel. What is more, TEKTELIC KONA Micro has 4 hours of battery backup, meaning that it continues to receive and transmit messages even if the main power source has lost its power. It is a scalable and cost-effective LoRaWAN® gateway that can improve the coverage and capacity of the premises, enabling various IoT applications for smart buildings.
LAIIER has installed devices in many scenarios, most notably in small commercial spaces where investment in maintenance and staff time is severely limited. These types of buildings tend to experience expensive failures, that have a hugely detrimental impact on business operations. It is in the best interest of the facility to install devices to avoid downtime, and it is in the interest of the insurer to avoid damage claims. LAIIER, with the connectivity provided by TEKTELIC Gateways, installed approximately ten devices per building, or one device per every 100 square meters on average. For example, below you can see the device deployed under a drinking fountain in one of the buildings in the US.
Together with TEKTELIC KONA Micro, the features of LAIIER’s devices solve critical customer problems, offering:
Large coverage area
Reduced false positives.
Using TEKTELIC Gateways, LAIIER ensures reliable transmission of sensor data, easy setup for the customer, and the confidence of continuous service thanks to cellular backhaul and battery backup. These features make TEKTELIC KONA Micro a great choice for LAIIER when deploying in locations that require the utmost reliability.
In just four months LAIIER’s Severn WLD™ and LAIIER Cloud with TEKTELIC connectivity have already mitigated damage from multiple water leakages in the abovementioned installations, the largest of which is estimated to have had the potential to create $10k in damage to the building floor and structure. Thanks to continuous monitoring and timely alerts, the leak was spotted fast, requiring only minor repair and cleanup, avoiding a costly claim and business interruption.
To summarize, the detection of leak events is a critical job to be done and with the solution offered by LAIIER and TEKTELIC, facility managers and building owners can be calm about it. Customers also appreciate the confidence provided by normal conditions reporting, which is just as valuable as leak detection messages. Such messages allow staff to focus on their important work, without worrying about the state of their building and its contents.
That is why if you are a building manager and want to avoid major leaks and the possibility of damage, it might be a good reason to try the proposed solution and LoRaWAN® connectivity.
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