Istanbul Grand Airport, one of the largest airports in the world

LoRaWAN for Real-Time Monitoring and Predictive Maintenance at İstanbul Airport

LPWAN Monitors One of the Largest Airports in the World

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9 Min
May 26, 2024
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LoRaWAN for Real-Time Monitoring and Predictive Maintenance

IGA İstanbul Airport is one of the largest airports in the world. It offers flights to more than 300 destinations worldwide. 200 million passengers can be transported annually after the completion of all four construction phases. As the largest infrastructure project in Turkey, there are numerous buildings with different functions and requirements, and thousands of end devices on the premises of İstanbul Airport.

How can the comprehensive control, predictive maintenance of assets, and optimizations be carried out? The answer: Radio-based IoT technology. The idea was conceived during the construction process while testing various wireless IT solutions. LoRaWAN technology proved to be a key solution, which will subsequently be implemented continuously throughout the airport to ensure the real-time monitoring of all systems.

IGA İstanbul Airport

Interview with Bilal Yildiz

İstanbul Airport is located around 35 kilometers from the city, on the Bosporus. The construction of the airport will be completed in four construction phases. The first phase was completed with the commissioning of two runways and a terminal with a capacity of 90 million passengers per year. The hub serves 102 airlines flying to more than 315 destinations on 6 continents. Once all phases are completed, it will have an annual capacity of 200 million passengers.

Bilal Yildiz is Electronic Systems Manager at IGA İstanbul Airport. He is jointly responsible for the operation and management of the Electronic Systems Department at the airport, and OT systems, including radio communication systems, LoRaWAN IoT systems, fire detection and warning systems, lighting automation systems, and PAVA. During the airport construction phase, he was responsible for organizing and monitoring the integration of electronic systems and equipment.

Bilal Yildiz, Istanbul Airport

Bilal Yildiz is Electronic Systems Manager at IGA İstanbul Airport.

The LoRaWAN Infrastructure

Large Airport, Countless Applications

İstanbul Airport has an extensive and powerful local ICT network for communication between gateways and servers. The airport currently uses 107 LoRaWAN IoT gateways to cover the acquisition of information over the entire infrastructure. Although it was established for a meter-reading automation system, LoRaWAN’s advantage of being able to receive data from any system without incurring cabling costs, has made the system an important tool in meeting other needs. The energy monitoring of 450 critical aviation systems with LoRaWAN IoT modules began immediately after the opening.

A total of 650 sensors for temperature and humidity monitoring ware installed in system rooms. Over the past five years, more than 15 IoT projects, such as meter-reading, energy monitoring, temperature and humidity monitoring, EV battery tracking, fire safety, waste tracking, and WC usage and cleaning consumables tracking have been implemented. Currently, over 6,000 end devices communicate over a single LoRaWAN network.

İstanbul Airport : Large Airport, Countless Applications

As Turkey’s largest infrastructure project ever, the İstanbul Airport consists of numerous different buildings, all of which have appropriate operating procedures and systems that require maintenance and constant monitoring.

One Platform for All Systems

The LoRaWAN infrastructure provides advantages in data collection, analysis, and processing by enabling various devices to communicate with central systems. This infrastructure serves as a complement to SCADA and automation systems, offering a swift solution for data collection needs from any location and equipment, without incurring infrastructure, or licensing costs. The airport’s Energy Efficiency and Data Analysis Platform collects data from both the LoRaWAN IoT end devices and OT systems such as SCADA, LET, Lighting Automation, and the Energy Measurement System.

Through this platform, İstanbul Airport creates a digital twin of operations with the data collected from different sources. The digital twin supports the simultaneous management of interrelated systems, enabling data-driven decisions with detailed reports. This way, the airport’s operational processes can be effectively analyzed for continuous improvements. At the same time, the data pool created enables artificial intelligence applications such as predictive maintenance.

“LoRaWAN IoT is a new approach, from construction to operation. LoRaWAN technology proved to be a key solution, which will subsequently be implemented continuously throughout the airport to ensure the real-time monitoring of all systems and operations. Optimization is a key factor in making systems more efficient and for sustaining sources. A dedicated OT team is one of the key factors underlying success.”

Bilal Yildiz,

Electronic Systems Manager

at İstanbul Airport

Solutions & Roadmap
İstanbul Airport Data and Analytics Hub

The IoT and Data Analysis Platform – Dashboard

Real-Time Monitoring and Predictive Maintenance

İstanbul Airport is a striking example of advantages based on wireless IoT solutions, as countless buildings distributed over a large, connected infrastructure are covered. Some of these buildings are located at great distances from one another. In many cases, it takes at least 20 minutes to get from Building A to Building B. “This is why we started with wireless IoT technology for the monitoring of power, lighting, temperature, humidity, and pressure. The geographical location of the airport was the main reason for choosing LoRaWAN technology,” said Bilal Yildiz.

LoRaWAN not only supports the monitoring of airport systems, but also plays a crucial role in implementing predictive maintenance solutions. LoRaWAN supports the existing SCADA system in real-time energy monitoring and uninterruptible power supply (UPS).

“As soon as a problem with the UPS or the energy flow occurs, the LoRaWAN nodes immediately send notifications directly to our mobile phones and e-mail addresses. Our maintenance teams can then react quickly and solve the problem.”

Bilal Yildiz,

Electronic Systems Manager

at İstanbul Airport

Roadmap to 2050

The energy sector is shifting from outdated centralized systems to distributed, smart, and integrated networks. IoT technology is an essential tool for achieving net-zero energy with technologies that use real-time data to optimize processes and decision-making. The use of decision-making tools is important when it comes to the expansion of renewable energy resources. Renewable energy will not be the solution for reducing emissions on its own. A reduction in consumption will be a key factor in making systems more efficient and sustaining renewable energy sources.

In line with the airport’s 2050 net zero CO2 objectives, the priority goal is energy efficiency. Thanks to the IoT applications, the airport was able to acquire the data needed for the effective analysis of processes, and for continued improvement with regards to the energy efficiency goals. The data collected through the IoT infrastructure and other OT systems is used by the Energy and Environment Performance Tool (a part of the IoT and Data Analysis Platform). All data from the energy measurement system and the consumption source is instantly monitored, and additional analysis is carried out on the basis of energy and assets by establishing correlations with other data sets.

Data Analytics and Big Data also promote efficiency in many areas. This includes, in particular, wastewater recycling, energy consumption, solid waste tracking, and fuel consumption.
As a result of the energy efficiency initiatives in 2023, greenhouse gas emissions have decreased by 25.64 percent since the start of operations, and by 6 percent compared to 2022.

LoRaWAN

LoRaWAN for Operational Efficiency

The consumption of natural resources is reduced through remotely controlled processes which avoid the inefficient use and excessive operation of equipment. Remotely controlled processes further optimize the operational lifespan of equipment, therefore enhancing the equipment lifecycle and reducing the waste produced, not only by the equipment but also by any consumables. The increase in accessible data thanks to the implemented IoT technologies boosts the effectiveness of the airport’s lifecycle assessment tools.

Employee satisfaction and well-being has been greatly improved through the digitization of the workplace with the use of remotely controlled processes and assessment methods. This in turn, reduces occupational health and safety risks. An increase in the quantity and quality of IoT technologies and data analysis tools further encourages an approach towards continuous improvement in all fields.

İstanbul Airport: WC Equipment Monitoring

WC Equipment Monitoring – WC Ocupancy Report

Technology: LoRaWAN

İstanbul Airport uses a complex LoRaWAN parallel to the IT networks. The LoRaWAN technology comprises nodes, modules, gateways, and servers. “We have a high-performance local ICT network at İstanbul Airport. We use 107 IoT gateways to cover the entire airport – in the terminal buildings, in the outside area, and in all other buildings. This is an enormous number and creates a completely new level of transparency,” reports the Electronic Systems Manager. Many different types hardware equipment have interfaces for different communication protocols such as Modbus, MBus, ProfibusDP, BACnet, relays, temperature measurement, or Ethernet.

Although all LoRaWAN modules can communicate with any protocol in the same way, different interfaces are required for each protocol. Often, GSM performance is expected from LoRaWAN, but GSM systems and LoRaWAN systems are not comparable. LoRaWAN operates on a very limited bandwidth. “We do not monitor every second, but every five minutes, which is sufficient under normal circumstances. This makes LoRaWAN many times more energy efficient”.

İstanbul Airport: LoRaWAN for Operational Efficiency

WC Equipment Monitoring – WC Detail Page

Challenge: Defining the Appropriate Technology

In the beginning, there was the challenge to select the right technology to meet the tracking requirements, in addition to the regulations of İstanbul Airport. LoRaWAN, SigFox, ZigBee, and other IoT technologies were evaluated. The tests led to a result that was not expected, as Yildiz explains: “We actually intended to use SigFox technology. However, SigFox collects all our data in a cloud in France, rather than at the airport itself in Turkey. One of the main requirements was that no tracking information should leave the İstanbul Airport. Unfortunately, this was not possible with SigFox. That’s why we chose LoRaWAN”.

Digital Transformation

IoT – Ecosystem

Besides the LoRaWAN network, another factor that enables agile response and rapid development is the establishment of a core OT team. While this OT team operates to maintain the LoRaWAN network, it is also responsible for the accurate analysis of operational needs. The most appropriate supplier is selected to implement solutions specially developed in line with requirements. This team ensures that multiple suppliers work in coordination towards a single goal. The LoRaWAN network, suppliers, and the OT team create an ecosystem that works like a project factory.

Data or Information?

IoT is one of the best application areas of digital transformation. Digital transformation provides the opportunity to reconsider and improve the way things are done. Many conventional systems work based on the transmission of data to a single center. A person in this center interprets the data and makes decisions. However, with edge-processing-capable end-devices that have become widespread with IoT, it is possible to process data at the end node and turn it into information. In this way, end-devices can make decisions. Relevant people can also be directly informed of undesired situations via methods such as SMS.

Edge-process-capable devices eliminate the need for central monitoring and increase the speed of intervention. While the needs are analyzed by the airport’s OT team, whether or not data or information is needed in line with this concept is examined, and end devices are designed accordingly. This is one of the important factors that increases the operational efficiency.

The Next Steps at the Airport

While the first two phases of iGA İstanbul Airport are complete, the third and fourth phases are still ongoing. Investments for the existing IoT infrastructure will continue with the development of the airport and new needs that may arise. The loT infrastructure is implemented by iGA with a focus on sustainability and efficiency in order to ensure operational excellence, without any contractual or legal obligations. Every project developed can be made applicable in aviation and other sectors as examples of IoT applications.

iGA İstanbul Airport

IoT is one of the best application areas of digital transformation.

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