Sensing new opportunities for green innovation

As a founding member of the C-SERVEES project, ADVA has been helping boost circular economy business models through technical demos from day one. The latest trial of our ALM fiber monitoring technology, however, is a little different. Find out more.
Klaus Grobe
Green shoot

Our ALM fiber assurance technology offers a simple, cost-effective way to gather real-time information on fiber networks. It’s an embedded OTDR with just 10W power consumption, which is substantially lower than most alternative solutions. That makes it a powerful tool, not only for accelerating failure detection and repair cycles, but also for lowering carbon footprint and improving sustainability.

I’ve written before about demonstrating our ALM as part of the Horizon 2020 Activating Circular Services in the Electric and Electronic Sector (C-SERVEES) project. This year, though, it’s enabling a C-SERVEES demo outside of our usual field of expertise. 

New use cases

For the current demo, we’re venturing outside of monitoring the fiber plant and, potentially, even outside of networking. The showcase extends the ALM’s applicability into the physical space that houses network equipment. It involves two new sensors designed to be used for monitoring assets. 

Once installed, the sensors will become part of the building’s permanent infrastructure. No electrical power is required in the field and there are no batteries that need to be replaced. With no wireless connection involved, our ALM offers simple setup and it’s safe from being interfered with. What’s more, it can operate in hazardous environments with a wide range of temperatures. 

Fire prevention

The first of the new ALM sensors detects heat and consists of a fiber detector built into a sprinkler unit. In the event of a fire, the sensor feeds back to the building’s ALM unit so that the fire department can be immediately notified. 

With all active electronics centralized not within the sensor – which, unlike traditional sensors contains no electronic components – but instead within our ALM unit, the sensor itself remains passive. This makes it extremely efficient and a lack of electronic components also means the sensors will last for decades. The only component that might ever need to be replaced is the ALM unit used for signal analysis.

 

We’re just beginning to explore the huge green potential of our ALM.
Access monitoring

 

The second sensor is for access monitoring and will be connected to the ALM unit again via a passive optical fiber. The sensor detects when doors (such as rack doors) have been left open, or when unauthorized personnel has entered restricted areas. This solution will also work in concert with the sprinkler sensors. Placed at fire doors, they will bolster fire safety by monitoring whether they are closed. For the demo, up to 500 passive sensors and up to 10 active ALM units will be installed at various sites.

Circular economy potential 

As with our previous collaboration, C-SERVEES will examine every single aspect relating to the solution’s sustainability. From production to energy efficiency, our new ALM sensors have already been subject to disassembly and all their components analyzed and rated for ease of recycling and impact on sustainability.

While sprinkler and door sensors might not sound all that exciting, remember that this project is about showing how we can develop technology that’s not only built to last a lifetime (and is, therefore, better for the planet), but that also translates to lower deployment cost together with efficiency gains. 

The future for ALM

We are indeed just at the beginning of exploring our ALM’s huge green potential. We envision that our fiber sensor technology will one day be applied to large and complex structures like bridges for enhanced safety monitoring, as well as water plants for the purposes of ensuring water quality. 

It is these applications beyond the network that make what we’re doing with this technology even more compelling, and with this new C-SERVEES collaboration, we’re enhancing our ALM’s sustainability credentials as we go.

Klaus Grobe

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