IoT connected drum scheme expands across Europe

February 12, 2019 // By Nick Flaherty
French power cable maker Nexans has expanded its scheme for cable drums connected by the Internet of Things across the UK, Switzerland, Germany and Chile, building on its roll out in France and Belgium.  

The system, developed with industrial IoT specialist Ffly4u, enables companies to accurately track the location of the cable drums and reduce costs through improved efficiency. 

Distribution service operators (DSOs) can lose hundreds of thousands of euros a year due to the lack of visibility of their drums scattered across construction sites. This is because complex supply chain processes can involve multiple teams, construction sites and subcontractors, so that expensive cable drums and cables are frequently lost, stolen or left idle on sites. It is also challenging for DSOs to monitor their stocks across multiple remote storage sites.

Nexans' fleet of 1200 cable drums integrate a tiny battery-powered sensors that connect each drum wirelessly to a cloud-based management platform that is available on a desktop PC or mobile app. This provides the real-time location of each drum as well as an alert system for monitoring on-site events, such as deliveries or pickup. This reduces the theft and loss of drums by up to 90 per cent, saving hundreds of thousands of euros a year says the company.

The system also allows operators to track how much cable is left on each drum. Using a real-time interface between the connected drums platform and the Nexans ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) system, operators can monitor their drums and access business information such as cable type and remaining lengths, sites, stock levels and other important details via a dynamic dashboard.

This reduces the amount of time that empty drums are left on site waiting for pickup, saving on costs and working capital. Estimates show that the Connected Drum technology can reduce the rotation cycle (the time it takes to return a drum back to Nexans) by as much as 25 percent - improving efficiency for both customers and Nexans.

The sensors are quick and easy to install, meaning the technology is scaleable and can be deployed quickly in new markets, and Nexans currently uses the cloud-based solution in six countries: UK, Switzerland,


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