Based in Cape Town, CT Lab is a technology company specialising in the monitoring and management of electrical networks in the energy distribution, facility and industrial sectors. The company offers measurement devices and software, data hosting and associated support services that include product, operations and specialist subject-matter training.
According to independent telecommunications research company BuddeComm, energy consumption is expected to grow worldwide by more than 40% over the next 25 years, with demand in some parts of the world increasing by more than 100%. This will produce an increase in competition for resources, making the development of smart grid infrastructure to improve energy efficiency and sustainability even more important.
CT Lab’s suite of multifunction, clock synchronised measurement platforms, combined with its web-based data hosting and visualisation platform called Osprey Pro, provide energy distribution network operators, facility managers and industrial plant operators with an unprecedented level of penetration and visibility into the complex behaviour of their electrical networks to improve grid management and overall efficiency.
“Without our products, our customers fly blind,” explained Willie van Wyk, founder and CEO of CT Lab. “They would have very limited visibility into the performance of their networks.” According to van Wyk, access to a large variety of real-time data at the measurement point is needed to actively manage the complex behaviour of energy networks. CT Lab’s tools assist clients in making strategic, data-driven decisions on various aspects of their smart grid implementations.
To deliver real-time, clock synchronised data from multiple measurement points in different locations, the company requires reliable data connectivity that works at indoor facilities and in the field. Initially offering a solution that included a separate Wi-Fi router and cellular module, CT Lab wanted to streamline its solution and provide additional battery support for communications functions. Since the company sells into numerous countries, with plans to expand to even more geographies, it needed an embedded solution that was not only reliable and scalable across cellular technologies, but also across the many network providers used worldwide.
Sierra Wireless IoT solution
Having worked with Sierra Wireless cellular modules for its previous offering, CT Lab didn’t hesitate to move forward with the Sierra Wireless AirPrime HL Series of IoT modules for its next-generation Vecto III multi-function power quality analyser. The collaboration was facilitated by Arrow Altech Distribution, an authorised Sierra Wireless distributor for South Africa.
The HL Series offers exceptional scalability between 2G, 3G, 4G LTE and low-power wide-area (LPWA) cellular networks to connect global IoT deployments with a single module. Along with the Sierra Wireless modules, CT Lab relies on the free unlimited firmware-over-the-air updates available via Sierra Wireless’ AirVantage FOTA Edition to keep its devices updated, ensuring they remain connected and secure.
“We used a Sierra Wireless embedded module on MikroTik routers for many years in the field; the performance was rock-solid,” said van Wyk. “Sierra Wireless specialises in the field of cellular communication. The solution they offer is end-to-end and provides a complete range of modules that can be deployed internationally onto most networks.”
CT Lab’s Vecto III analyser also offers multi-function measurement capabilities supporting energy measurement, power quality, SCADA, digital fault recording and micro synchrophasors in a single device; permanent ±100 ns clock synchronisation on each measurement device that can be used to automate the generation of newly derived network-wide performance data; scalable data storage; and mobile-friendly web interface with live dashboards and alarm engine supporting email, SMS and push notifications that deliver detailed diagnostic and performance data to selected individuals in real-time.
Analyst firms measuring the smart grid technologies and services market put the value between $502 and $753 billion by 2022, with growth driven by spiralling energy consumption, aging and inefficient grid infrastructure and favourable regulatory environments.
“As managing electrical networks becomes more digitised, data-driven, decentralised and strategic, CT Lab’s online big data supported monitoring and management solution is ideally positioned to assist operators to gain visibility and to actively manage their networks,” said Dr Elsa Lombard, head of education and training at CT Lab.
In addition to being the supplier of choice in the Southern African region since 1993, CT Lab recently won the national tender to supply Eskom with measurement devices for the next three years. With the addition of the Vecto III analyser to its measurement platforms, CT Lab will be able to expand its reach to other geographies without needing to customise for network compatibility, speeding time-to-market and enabling it to take advantage of the current push for smart grid growth.