Datavenue Challenge: no more hydroalcoholic gel shortages thanks to connected dispensers

With its Vichydro Connect connected dispensers, the Percall Group aims to accomplish a critical mission: to ensure that hydroalcoholic gel is readily available at all times in places with high footfall. Thierry Durand, Skills Centre Director at Percall, explains this innovative and Datavenue Challenge-nominated solution.

“Thanks to Vichydro Connect, managers enjoy optimised planning for resupplying gel dispensers.”

Can you tell us a bit about Percall?

Percall was established in the year 2000 and has 350 consultants. We were originally a service company specialising in the development and integration of product lifecycle management (PLM). Today, we also provide solutions of our own. We have been involved in the IoT for seven years, focusing on Industry 4.0 and smart cities. Notably, we developed the management platform for Smoove terminals — the new Vélib’ public bicycle sharing system in Paris.

How did the idea of a connected hydroalcoholic gel dispenser come about?

We have weekly brainstorming sessions in search of new use cases. The first lockdown was the catalyst. Gel dispensers were being developed and rolled out, and we realised that managing them, in addition to being critical, could quickly become onerous for actors tending to large crowds, such as those in stadiums, zoos, industrial sites and so on. Vichydro Connect, which is a tool that helps monitor consumption at dispensers, enables managers to optimise their planning for replenishing the supply of hydroalcoholic gel.

How does it actually work?

In terms of the sensors, an electromagnetic field detects when gel is dispensed, which is less energy-intensive than other technologies such as infrared. To ensure regular data transmission, we promptly turned to LoRa technology. Its low power consumption, large sending capacity and precise GPS-free geolocation ensures maximum battery life (more than two years) and highly accurate monitoring of their usage. The monitoring application notifies the manager when the dispenser is empty, with two configurable warning thresholds. Real-time consumption curves provide a useful analytical component for planning resupply, and to help monitor where the terminals are placed based on how frequently they are used, for instance.

Can you tell us about your partnership with Orange?

We came together with Orange at the beginning of the year when we chose LoRa for our Vichydro Connect. Discussions have since expanded organically, and we are working together on new use cases, such as water management in parks and gardens, and even public litter bins. We can adapt our connected gel dispenser solution to these alternative use cases. At Percall, we have always had a philosophy of working with experts in their fields; we want to embed the most innovative technologies in our solutions. We believe that the best way to achieve this is to seek complementarity. We are pleased to have found this kinship with a leader like Orange.

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