The public irrigation management establishment in the lower Durance valley takes stock of its experience with IoT technology and advocates nationwide adoption.
The IoT is at the source of a good routing of water in agricultural fields or in private homes. The Compagnie de Craponne, a public irrigation management institution (ASA) which manages a network of 50 kilometers of canals in the lower valley of the Durance, has experienced this: the 25 connected sensors, installed along the canals as part of a project conducted with the French IoT editor and integrator Synox, have proven their effectiveness in terms of optimizing water resources and good canal management. For the director of the establishment, Guillaume Casella, the IoT is likely to meet the challenges of the water sector and deserves to be more democratized.
The primary challenge to which technology responded was the automation of processes. “We had aging installations, our water level recorders, used to measure the variations in the level of the river over time, worked with graph paper that had to be raised manually”, recalls Guillaume Casella, anxious to avoid travel. useless dailies. Water level and flow measurement sensors now allow the ASA and operators to receive information in near real time and remotely. In the event of an imbalance on the network, “an alarm is triggered as soon as a network of secondary canals loses too much water”, informs the director. A saving of time which the ASA teams, who can program the opening percentage of a valve at a given time, are delighted with.
The data from these industrial connected objects also allow the ASA to best fulfill its role as controller. “We have a water police mission which requires guaranteeing a good distribution of the resource between the members”, explains Guillaume Casella. The water level sensors enabled it to detect weekend thefts of the resource at the pumping stations. With this control capability, the ASA anticipates the actions to be taken in the event of a restriction period.
From this water police mission comes a third challenge, namely a good visualization of what is happening along the 50 kilometers of canals. The status and position of the sensors are displayed on a map. “We have created dashboards for the ASA correlating the water level and the flow. The dashboards can be customized according to needs”, emphasizes Hugo Lemoine, Partner Manager at Synox. It is in particular this characteristic of open platform which seduced Guillaume Casella.
The choice of guided ultrasound
Before arriving at this positive assessment, the ASA Compagnie de Craponne had to deal with an essential problem, which monopolized Guillaume Casella for more than a year: choosing the right sensors. “After an initial Proof of concept with a Parisian service provider which did not work, the operator Objenious directed us to Synox. We tested various sensors as well as a camera to check the reliability of the data”, says Guillaume Casella.
The Synox teams, which have more than 550 models of sensors on their platform, were able to refer the ASA Compagnie de Craponne. After discarding a first model intended for water level measurement, the two partners turned to ultrasonic sensors. Three models were compared to each other. “One of our constraints is to have the mistral, the wind can alter the signal. It is guided ultrasound which is the most reliable in our case”, confides Guillaume Casella, who is also trying out radar sensors.
Another selection criterion: the cost of the solution, “which amounts to 150 euros per sensor, to which must be added 10 euros for connectivity and an additional 10 euros per year and per object for supervision”, explains Mathieu Borie, business manager at Synox. “We use LoRaWAN public networks. We are very satisfied with them, especially for their low energy consumption which promotes the autonomy of the sensors. After four years, we still have not needed to change the batteries”, observes Guillaume Cassella.
Once this obstacle has been cleared, the IoT has all the assets to attract the next projects of the ASA Compagnie de Craponne. Its director plans to subsequently install connected weather stations along the canal to monitor, for example, the quantity of water in sections of the network according to storms. The next innovation, in the eyes of the director, will be to be able to control the valves acting on the network. The ASA is already in discussions with Synox on this subject. “This summer with Synox, we created two sensors aimed at connecting the hammer valves that supply the canals with water, and which now open manually,” says Guillaume Casella. His wish for the future: to inspire other ASAs to replicate these possibilities in France. “The Bouches du Rhône and the Vaucluse are encountering problems similar to ours”, underlines Guillaume Casella, hoping to make their mouths water.