Adhoc Networks in Germany has launched the world’s smallest smart waste sensor module with IoT monitoring support from Memfault.
The OSCAR sensor measures 71 x 43 x 28mm and can measure up to 4m within a container with a cone angle of 27° to determine the fill level of a waste container.
The nRF9160 system in package (SiP) from Nordic Semiconductor is used to collate data and send it to the cloud over the mobile network LTE-M and Narrowband-IoT. The low power operation allows an operational life of up to five years from the 3.6V Li-Thionyl battery based on twelve fill measurements a day and three uplinks of the data to the Cloud.
Nordic has a strategic agreement with Memfault the US for software that monitors large fleets of sensors out in the field and adhoc is also using the technology.
The sensor uses the FlightSense VL53L1X Time-of-Flight (ToF) laser-ranging module from STMicroelectronics. This provides the 4m range with 50Hz sensing using a single photon avalanche detector (SPAD) receiving array and a 940 nm Class1 infrared laser emitter, filters and optics and measures 4.9×2.5×1.56 mm.
This allows waste collection organisations to reduce unnecessary trips to containers that are only partly filled. This can reduce CO2 emissions by the collection fleet by up to 40%.
OSCAR replaces the first generation sensor called PHIL that has been in use by local authorities around the world with over 1000 deployed since its launch in 2021. Over this time, the company has developed a monthly subscription service for customers that includes supplying all the sensor hardware and replacing batteries when required, monitoring all the data and creating the collection schedules, handling all the logistics so that the waste collectors just have to follow the collection schedules.
“Knowing the exact level in every container ensures that there are no wasted collections of part filled containers and, even more importantly, no overflowing containers,” explained Ole Ostermann, adhoc networks’ CEO. “Our approach is the perfect solution for monitoring the new generation of waste containers that are larger and discretely located below ground level. These are not currently easy to check the fill level apart from lifting a lid so they are usually emptied more often than necessary just to be sure, but that is a waste of resources.”
“This miniaturized version is so small with a footprint of a stack of ten or so credit cards that it can even be used in small bins in parks, airports, etc,” he said. “This opens up a wide range of new applications apart from waste where companies want to measure levels in a container remotely to know when to do a collection or conversely a top up. Examples include donated clothes, agricultural produce in storage hoppers or industrial materials such as plastic pellets used for injection moulding. Naturally, we would be only too happy to work with customers to customize our software to suit their application.”