Melbourne's Lab3 builds IoT sensor laboratory

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Melbourne's Lab3 builds IoT sensor laboratory

Melbourne-based managed services provider Lab3 has built an electronics laboratory for designing, prototyping, testing and manufacturing internet of things (IoT) sensors.

The facility, housed within the CRN Fast50 2019 winner’s Melbourne office, was built to complement the company’s expertise in data and artificial intelligence technologies, while also aiming to meet industry demand for IoT sensors.

“Covid highlighted the benefits of having an electronics lab sited locally, rather than offshore,” Lab3 group chief executive Chris Cook said. “It means we can provide certainty in performance as we collaborate with clients to address specific use cases prior to field trials.”

The laboratory, which cost around $500,000 to develop, features include the following:

  • A robotic pneumatic pick-and-place machine to deploy electronic components on circuit boards
  • Circuit board screen printer and reflow oven to assemble electronic circuit boards
  • High resolution SLS 3D printer to create casing prototypes
  • Advanced electronic measurement equipment to develop and test designs

Lab3 director of data, IoT & AI Alain Blanchette said, “It is one thing to collect data in controlled environments, but as any organisation operating outside can attest, there can be considerable frustrations with rolling out technology from a box.”

“With the Lab3 electronics lab on hand, and with minimal customisation and experts in Australia from design to deployment, there are no boundaries.”

One of the offerings that would benefit is Lab3’s internally designed and built universal platform for IoT sensors, which includes scope to accommodate unique requirements to fit multiple use cases across industries, from mining to manufacturing and primary industries.

Lab3 will also package the IoT sensors with Microsoft’s offerings as a data technology package, including Azure Sphere.

“It is about securely collecting accurate information about what is going on in real time, out on site, in the environment and on machinery, to be analysed and displayed on a screen in an office or at home, and in a way that makes sense to the people making operational and management decisions,” Blanchette added.

Lab3 also recently deployed IoT sensors with mining company CITIC Limited, specifically at a magnetite mine in Australia’s northwest, which becomes hard to access during the wet season due to flooding creeks and boggy tracks.

Devices were attached to water pumps at bore sites located 10km away from the mine office to enable remote visibility, to ensure not too much water is being taken out, to maintain the water table and ensure compliance with environmental regulations.

“Using an extremely low powered LoRaWAN network, the sensors have a 3-year battery life and send real time information 24X7 to the Gateway at the mine office for internet connection,” Blanchette said.

“The success of this deployment was fast tracked with the electronics lab on hand. Floods and mud are no longer barriers for monitoring out on site.”

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