Nashua Kopano diversifies with IOT solutions

Simnikiwe Mzekandaba
By Simnikiwe Mzekandaba, IT in government editor
Johannesburg, 10 Jul 2023

Nashua Kopano is prioritising deployment of internet of things (IOT) solutions, says MD Chris Kruger. This, as the company focuses on diverse growth areas, with IOT services key among those.

Nashua Kopano is wholly-owned by Nashua, a subsidiary of JSE-listed ICT and technology firm Reunert. The company got its start in office automation, providing workspace solutions to enterprise and government business in SA.

While office automation is still a “big part” of the business, Kruger tells ITWeb that IOT, energy and ICT solutions, including connectivity, are the biggest growth areas.

According to the MD, the two main areas of increased uptake of IOT solutions is building automation, particularly in energy management.

He explains: “The traditional DB [distribution board] can be replaced with an intelligent one that’s able to control power consumption in a specific building.

“For example, switch on lights in different areas of the building depending on the time of day, run air-cons, and lights and specific switches for specific power use. This process can be completely automated and we can build an AI [artificial intelligence] behind it.”

Kruger notes diesel distribution is the other area of the IOT side. “Today, there’s myriad of guys delivering diesel to some business. However, the issue for the person buying the diesel is that they sometimes don’t know how much diesel they are getting. The delivery guy can have a little meter there, but how do you know how accurate that meter is?

“With IOT, we have the ability to not just see the flow going out of the diesel bowser, for example, but can exactly monitor the content and the level of it.”

He says typically there are a number of different sensors – the pressure sensor that monitors the amount of liquid in the container, another that monitors the volume and a third one that monitors the flow.

“All of these are connected to a panel that connects via its own network. Our solution doesn't run across the typical 5G IOT network like most other organisations, but we have our own frequency upon which we communicate and it's got up to 70km line of sight that we can pick up information.

“That information feeds back into a central dashboard…that can show the customer usage. We've also put in a couple of triggers and alerts to notify customers when they need diesel or when it needs to delivered.”

According to Kruger, the company already has a supermarket chain as a customer for the specific IOT solution. “They tried to go the route of signing a supply agreement with a single vendor, but it's not always that simple. They ended up going this route and installing big diesel reservoirs and we monitor those diesel reservoirs for them and report to them on a daily basis.

“For big customers, such as shopping centres and supermarkets that run big generators, we can track the exact diesel consumption and tell them how much diesel they need, when they need it, if they are getting the level that they want, is the generator running optimally, or is it overloaded instead, etc.”

Frost & Sullivan estimates there were 35.37 billion IOT devices globally last year, with over 51% of the total connections related to building automation, security and surveillance applications.

The market research and analysis firm further forecasts 41.76 billion active IOT-connected devices globally in 2023, driving 18% growth in connections compared to 2022.

Kruger, who rejoined Nashua Kopano two-and-a-half years ago following some time at HP, adds that ICT solutions are not only a big focus, but an area in which the business is witnessing “significant” growth.

“Internally, we've got six pillars of business. Rather than trying to address all the lines of business, we brought onboard specialists within each one of the divisions.

“We've also brought onboard quite a lot of skilled resources within the ICT stack. We’re building strong relationships with a lot of the big vendors out there around cloud, security, endpoint security, storage and licensing.”