Look towards some of the world’s most challenging industries, such as mining and construction. You’ll find a growing demand for accurate real-time data. In these circles, such data is worth its digital weight in gold as it helps save time, cut costs and protect lives by avoiding disasters. Yet, these industries have mainly been collecting such data manually. A company challenging this status quo is Ackcio from Singapore.
Inspired by the world of Harry Potter and its summoning spell ‘Accio,’ the company has specialized in using wireless data acquisition technology to centralize data. Its flagship product, Ackcio Beam, is making waves in construction and mining to drive safer and secure project outcomes. Since its founding in 2016, the company has formed several strategic partnerships and spread its reach across 25 countries on six continents.
Ackcio Beam – The Next Big Thing for Wireless Technology
“Our flagship product, Ackcio Beam, is an end-to-end system. It goes to the client primarily as a hardware solution with a plug and play interface for sensors already being used in the industry,” shares Nimantha. The system uses patent-pending long-range lower power transmission devices to collect and transmit data securely from several sensing apparatus to a central collection gateway. The data can then be directly logged on to client monitoring systems through this gateway via the internet. The data acquisition devices are simple, reliable, low maintenance, extensible, and can connect over 10 km. Once set up, this creates a powerful mesh communication system while also providing a source of power for the sensors connected.
Complimenting Ackcio Beam, the Nimbus and Snape software components complete the package to introduce a state-of-the-art wireless network solution. The Nimbus application allows an Android mobile device to be plugged in to install a node on site. Following this, the on-site personnel can also use the app to conduct network tests for the device. Meanwhile, the web-based Snape software installed on the gateway devices helps users configure the entire Ackcio network and provides an overall management interface.
The origins of Ackcio – The importance of wireless communication
Ackcio was founded in 2016 by Nimantha Baranasuriya and Mobashir Mohammad. At the time, both of them were pursuing their Ph.D.’s at the National University of Singapore. Their research focused on wireless technologies and their potential industrial applications. It wasn’t long before the duo realized the vast potential of their research for commercial solutions that could empower entire industries.
Speaking to Arteculate, Nimantha explained their value proposition by pointing to the construction industry. Wherever you are in the world, irrespective of whether you’re building a house, skyscraper, or subway tunnel, some norms are universal. Chief among them is that on any construction project, safety monitoring is carried out manually.
However, “to enable stakeholders to make informed decisions, these variables need to be properly monitored and presented before them most reliably,” conveys Nimantha. As such, there’s a critical need for accurate real-time data at any construction site. Delayed or inaccurate data may directly impact the safety of a project, causing the potential loss of millions of dollars. Therefore, by utilizing an array of wireless sensors, it’s possible to get accurate data in real-time, which saves costs in the long run. Additionally, site productivity may also be improved through the reallocation of workers to safer and more important tasks.
The impact of Ackcio across continents
The company first introduced Ackcio Beam to the construction industry for geotechnical and structural monitoring. It has been used extensively since. A few notable examples of projects Ackcio has supported with its wireless innovations are the Bedok South and Great World MRT Stations in Singapore, the Tuen Mun-Chek Lap Kok Link in Hong Kong, and the Ogan Bridge in Indonesia. In the case of such infrastructure development such as tunneling, hundreds of sensors were connected on-site to monitor various critical parameters such as on-ground building tilt, soil water pressure, and tunnel loads during excavation.
Another industry where Ackcio is empowering with its wireless products is mining. This is an industry famously known as a high-risk line of work anywhere in the world. While miners are underground retrieving precious metals and other resources, they’re always at risk of several dangers. The list includes heat, lack of oxygen, the sudden collapse of tunnels, and many more within the confined spaces of a mine. In such environments, Ackcio Beam helps ensure the safety of miners through the continuous monitoring of rock movements, oxygen levels, and several other parameters. Thereby, allowing proactive measures to be taken to prevent a crisis.
Since its founding, Ackcio has now grown to 30 in total and has spread its reach across 25 countries on 6 continents. But the company isn’t resting on its laurels and is actively seizing new opportunities for growth. “In most parts of the world, handheld sensors or long cables are yet used for the collection of data at these sites. Cables are prone to damage and handheld devices expose a large number of workers to risk, leading to a higher chance of onsite accidents,” Nimantha expresses. He highlights that replacing these traditional ‘muggle’ methods of data collection not only manages the potential risk but also improves the integrity of the data during transmission.
Learning and overcoming challenges as a growing company
Ackcio deployed its first system in Singapore through funds raised from the government and private ventures. It was put together almost entirely with hand-built devices and a third-party software dashboard to create a basic mesh network. Over time, having proven the power of their wireless solution, the company was able to build the necessary components in-house to meet the demands of the market.
Of course, building the system was only one part of the equation. “A major hurdle we had to overcome has been the slow adoption of the technology. Risk-averse industries did not show a liking to change too many things too fast.” Therefore, Ackcio had to adapt with small deployments of the system and gradually scaled up to reach the global market position it holds today.
Together with this, Nimantha shares that the company experienced long sale cycles as a result of the initial delay in the industrial recognition of the technology. “We had to work in close cooperation with the clients and educate them along the way,” he explains. This obstacle had kept resurfacing as Ackcio Beam reached new countries; although some accepted the technology more readily than others. Moreover, by investing in overseas support services for deployment, the team learned that they were better able to train clients to understand and improve the acceptance of Ackcio Beam in the market.
What is Ackcio’s Vision for the Future?
“At Ackcio, we see ourselves as one day being the pioneers in building reliable data pipelines that could connect all kinds of sensors for the centralization of data for processing and further analysis,” states Nimantha. Wireless technology is the primary enabler of the industrial applications of IoT networks. As such, the company plans to venture into the fields of Oil and Gas, Energy, Manufacturing, and Agriculture in the months ahead for the industrial monitoring of high-risk parameters with Ackcio Beam to boost safety, productivity, and the use of resources.