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Safeguarding Water Supply and Infrastructure through Radar Technology
While threats to water resilience mount with population growth and climate change, a majority of the world’s water systems is still not actively monitored. Peter Hiemstra, Founder and CEO of Netherlands-based Staal Instruments (formerly SenZ2) is out to solve this problem. Staal’s wireless radar sensor and cloud-based analytics platform equips operators with the tools to monitor real time water levels and system health.
What drove you to move from research to starting your own radar technology company?
I was born and raised in the Netherlands and have a background in Artificial Intelligence. From 2007 to 2014, I researched sensors, robotics, IoT, and Artificial Intelligence at the Netherlands Organization for Applied Scientific Research (TNO). The work I did was five to ten years ahead of its time — which was exciting because I could see how applied research in this field was translating into the development of a range of innovative solutions. But since most of this work was funded by clients, in the defense sector for instance, we were often required to hand over our findings to them.
At TNO, I developed a passion for radar systems; they are the most superior sensors to measure distance and speed in harsh environments. But they were big, complex, and expensive. So when I stumbled on the opportunity for a ‘radar-on-chip’ solution, I knew I had to take a leap of faith. In 2015, I embarked on a great journey and started Staal Instruments.
How is Staal Instruments able to solve water management issues?
Water utilities currently face issues with continuous water level monitoring. Solutions available in the market today require a lot of power, are inaccurate in harsh environments, and break down after a few months.
Combining radar and IoT, Staal has developed a small, stand-alone box that can measure levels of liquids and solids. Our radar based technology ensures that measurements stay accurate, even in harsh environments. These trackers are placed on top of containers allowing you to see right through containers, increasing safety around monitoring dangerous liquids. Staal radars can be installed in under 15 minutes, compared to current systems that can take an entire day. They also ensure maintenance free operations for 5 years at a cost of only 10% of current systems.
The radars take hourly measurements and send the data to our cloud. Our users receive continuous updates on their water levels, historical trend data, and future water level predictions on a custom dashboard. These systems don’t need any power infrastructure and work anywhere in the world with 2G or 4G network coverage. So our users no longer have to visit their sites to track water levels or clean their sensors — saving them a lot of time and money.
What are you goals in the near future?
We have installed over 350 units to date in the Netherlands where we are based. We are now exploring opportunities in new markets. This year and the next, we want to find the right partners to help us deploy and scale in the US where we see an immediate need for Staal’s solution.
What advice would you give other Founders who are creating a new company?
You need a team — you definitely can’t do it alone. Taking time to find the right people is key. They must fit your company culture, have complementary skills, and boost overall morale.
Also, don’t try to be the smartest person in your company. Instead, surround yourself with smart people who challenge you and help improve on your weaknesses.
Sum up your experience working with Imagine H2O so far
Networking, visibility, support
Learn more about Staal Instruments here