These three industrial groups have decided to launch themselves on a large scale in the IoT. From dozens of sensors for dunces to several thousand for good students.

Entrepreneurs of the Internet of the objects have an eye on the energy companies and the giants of the world of transport, whose infrastructures are spread all over the territory. Signing a contract with Engie, SNCF or RTE allows these internet start-ups to demonstrate the efficiency of their intelligent devices. Like Intesens, Hikob and Ubiant, many start-ups now present these groups as their partners and even their customers. But behind this communication lie different stages of deployment of sensors, ranging from proof of concept (POC) to industrialization.

For example, the electricity transport specialist RTE does not yet have an IoT plan. It conducts tests as part of a development research project formalized in June 2015, the budget of which is barely a few hundred thousand euros. In particular, the group seeks to exploit its network more efficiently thanks to connected objects, in order to install new high-voltage lines and new substations only when absolutely necessary.

When they carry electricity, the high voltage cables heat up, causing the metal to expand. The electrical wires relax and move closer to the ground. The outside temperature, wind and solar radiation influence this phenomenon. In order to avoid accidents, RTE has less current in its lines during the summer when it is hot, so that they do not create short circuits with vehicles running on roads, for example. But by using connected objects capable of sending data to it in real time, this EDF subsidiary could orchestrate electricity flows with much more finesse than simply based on seasonal average temperatures.

RTE has been operating for two years the sensors developed by Ampacimon, founded in 2008 and based in Belgium. This solution has already proved its worth on the Belgian electricity grid. "But its current price limits the deployment possibilities and it does not allow us to keep 100% control of our data. As part of our new research project, we are currently testing alternative devices in the Lot-et-Garonne department. -Garonne with four start-ups and tricolor SMEs, "explains François-Xavier Sardou, project manager R & D at RTE, met at the end of September 2016 Innovation Days organized in the suburbs of Toulouse by IoT Valley.

The group is still only in proof of concept phase. For example, the young Intesens, created in 2009, installed ten inclinometers (which make it possible to measure the level of inclination of a cable) and temperature sensors on RTE high voltage lines located in Agen. "We are testing a total of about ten different devices, but we may only use two or three of them on our network. Many questions remain unanswered, including the cost of maintaining these tools and cybersecurity" , Underlines François-Xavier Sardou. The company wants to be certain that these connected objects will bring a quick return on investment and operational gains on several of its business lines before extending the process.

For the moment, RTE has not planned mass deployment of IoT on a specific date. "But if these POCs, which should end at the end of 2017, are conclusive, we should deploy these sensors on all of our infrastructure," says the project manager. Beware, it is not guaranteed that the group works with the start-ups who are currently carrying out these tests. "In order for the procedure to be fair, we will take care not to reproduce in the specifications the user manual of the sensors of the young shoots with which we have already collaborated", assures "He said.

For its part, SNCF has reached a more advanced stage of deployment. "We want to leave the POC. 2017 will be the year of industrialization of the Internet of objects," says Emmanuel Cox, director of the IoT program of the railway group. The process was quick. The company began to take an interest in the sector in early 2016. In April it announced a plan for deploying sensors across its entire infrastructure, covering 50,000 kilometers of track, 40,000 technical centers, switches, but also in all its stations and its oars. In this context, more than 300 million euros of investments are planned in three years announced the president of the management board Guillaume Pepy.

"We have launched a dozen major projects, such as installing sensors capable of verifying that the elevators and escalators in our stations are functioning, in order to promptly notify the technicians in case of a problem.These connected objects have already been tested and approved. "In the next two years, we will have deployed these small devices in all our stations," explains Emmanuel Cox, also met at the Innovation Days.

In the summer of 2017, SNCF will also have between 300 and 500 temperature sensors manufactured by Intesens on the tracks of its trains, in order to avoid railway disasters like the one that occurred in October 2014 in Brétigny-sur -Orge. Industrialization is planned by the end of 2018. The group also connects the toilets of its TGV trains, in order to check the level of filling of their water tanks. When more than three trains are dry, the train is obliged to stop for replenishment. If the intelligent devices carry out these analyzes in real time and warn the flight attendants, they can be recharged during station stops. "Some fifty trainsets will be equipped at the end of 2016. All of our TGVs will be paired in 2017", summarizes the director IoT.

The energy company Engie wants to connect in a short time all its industrial assets, "entrusted to the JDN Yves Le Gélard, deputy general manager, CDO and DSI of the group last June. For example, it has deployed 4,000 temperature sensors on its gas and electric meters in partnership with its subsidiary specialized in energy efficiency Engie Cofely.

"We initially realized a POC with 300 sensors out of ten Parisian buildings in order to validate the solution. We are in the process of industrializing the process. We have signed a partnership with the IoT operator Sigfox which will carry the data of 15 000 of our connected objects in three years, "says Christian Faucon, IoT manager at Engie Cofely. The company's fleet of smart devices is expected to surpass 100,000 units within five years. In September, Engie became a partner of the IoT Valley of Labège, an association bringing together start-ups and large groups to which it provides financing.

This industrialization has a significant cost, which Engie has taken into account in its calculations: "These connected probes should have a lifetime of five to eight years, after which they will have to be replaced. Maintenance of six euros per year per object, to which is added the price of the subscription for the transfer of data (which is not public, editor's note), "explains Christian Faucon.


source: by Leila de Matharel, JDN - October 11th 2016