Industrialization

Industrialization is the final step before the commercialization of your device. This is where all the choices you made during prototyping and development pay off. This step must be done after you have completed the modem or device certification step (Sigfox Verified or Sigfox Ready).

The target of industrialization is to make sure that your costs can scale: mass producing an IoT device can require a lot of financial investment. As such, it is a very important step in the creation of your device.

This step includes the following necessary actions:

  • Test your device in production.
  • Integrate the Sigfox credentials into your device.
  • Find the right partner for your mass production, if needed.

Industrial testing is critical to ensure a good quality for your device.

Industrialization in context

As with all the steps in creating a new device, industrialization should be on your mind at all times. You must start thinking about it even before your final design is ready, as it can have an impact on that design.

Still, you can only start industrialization once your device has been certified by Sigfox (Sigfox Verified, Sigfox Ready), and has passed the type approval (FCC, ETSI, ARIB, etc.). See the Certification step for more information.

You must have completed all the previous steps before you reach this one. Don't start working on industrialization without knowing all the ins and outs presented during Journey steps on Build.

Testing in production

Production testing is essential. You simply cannot go forward with the commercialization of your object without having first properly tested it in a production environment.

Testing requires good planning and strict measurement of quality. That being said, tests themselves can be very easy to set up:

  • You do not need any specific Sigfox equipment.
  • You do not need to register the device on the Sigfox backend.
  • Testing a device for its Sigfox support takes less than 15 seconds.

NOTE: While you can use Sigfox Cloud for industrial tests, we recommend you do not use it during the testing phase. The Sigfox network is not optimized for such tests. Because Sigfox devices are just like any other RF device, they can be tested using regular RF test equipments, and we advise you to choose this option for your tests.

 To perform the tests on your device, you need the following standard equipments:

  • A testbench PC,
  • A power meter,
  • A signal generator,
  • A spectrum analyzer,
  • A Faraday cage (optional).

You can also rely on LitePoint IQxel, a Sigfox-validated family of testers. The IQxel-M is a one-box solution for wireless connectivity testing. Learn more about it here

The Sigfox Resource Center has a full description of the necessary production tests

Testing best practices

In order to successfully pass industrial tests, here are good practices that we promote:

  • Lab testing is good, field testing is better. You should always test your device's performance in real conditions, according to how it is supposed to be placed/used: metallic bin, hole in the ground, on a wall, etc.)
  • Design and manufacture a device that is testable by design. This means that you need to develop your tests at the same time that you design your hardware and software -- not after!
  • Maximize tests when the printed circuit board (PCB) is reachable. This is when it is easiest (and cheapest!) to run tests. Use this time to perform as many tests as possible. If you need to run tests with device enclosure, try to figure out how to do it early in the design phase.
  • Store your Sigfox ID and initial PAC in plain sight. Your device has a unique ID and initial PAC, which should be clearly accessible on the device, its packaging, or even its PCB. You can put a label or QR code on the device's boxing, for instance.
  • Keep in mind that your device is a RF product. You can perform a lot of tests simply by basing those tests on RF performances.

The Sigfox credentials

Credentials and provisioning

Your device must contain proper credentials before you sell it. These credentials make your device unique on the Sigfox network. This way, the network knows that your device transmits the data payload in a secure way.

Obtaining Sigfox credentials for your device is called "provisioning". 

As a device maker, you should ensure that your modem provider follows the provisioning procedure. They must provide you with ready-to-use components, which must embed the credentials and also give a way to access them.

Unless you build your hardware on your own, it is not your responsibility to flash the credentials into your device's memory. This responsibility falls on either the modem manufacturer, the Secure Elements manufacturer, or the System on Chip manufacturer. This page explains the credential procedures for the various parties.

What are the Sigfox credentials

There are three credentials to be flashed into your device's memory:

  • The ID: Each ID is unique to the whole Sigfox network. It is also independent of your Sigfox subscription.
  • The key: The key is only known to your providers (modem maker, Secure Elements maker, or System on Chip maker).
  • The PAC: The Porting Authorization Code is a one-time code, used to register your device on a specific group on the Sigfox Cloud. Its aim is to prevent someone from attaching their device to the device's own group without having ownership on the device. 

The device's PAC is tied to that device's ID only. This means that two devices cannot share the same PAC.

Where to get the credentials

For device makers, there are three types of sources for Sigfox credentials:

  • Secure Elements manufacturers.
  • Modem manufacturers.
  • System on Chip manufacturers.

Unless they build their own chips/components, device makers are not supposed to obtain Sigfox credentials themselves.

The credential procedure: an overview

The procedure varies depending on whether the target device uses a regular modem, or a modem that implements a Secure Elements chipset.

There are a handful of profiles in this procedure: 

  • Secure Elements manufacturer, 
  • System on Chip manufacturer, 
  • Modem manufacturer, 
  • Device maker, 
  • Electronic Manufacturing Service (EMS), 
  • and Sigfox customer. 

They can be separate entities, or a single company can be more than one profile. Each must make specific actions during their part of the whole procedure. For instance, a device maker can also manufacture its own modem.

Several steps of the procedure require to upload or download files from the Sigfox Central Registration Authority (CRA). The benefit of this is to allows the CRA to:

  • Track the Secure Elements, modem, and device production.
  • Ensure the Secure Elements safety.

The Sigfox Resource Center has a technical guide for the provisioning procedure

The Sigfox provisioning without Secure Elements
The Sigfox provisioning with Secure Elements

The information that follows applies to all profiles of the whole credential procedure chain. As a device maker, part of it applies to you, the rest to your providers and customers. Still, you should know about aspects managed by the other profiles. This allows you to better understand the ramifications of credential integration.

The credential procedure: As seen from the SE manufacturer

The Secure Elements (SE) manufacturer follows the steps below:

  1. Build the SE chipset.
  2. Download the ID ranges from the Sigfox CRA.
  3. Generate the credentials.
  4. Test the Secure Elements chip.
  5. Personalize the credentials and flash them into the chipset.
  6. Upload the generated credentials on CRA in a secure way. 
  7. Make the SE chipset available for purchase.

The credential procedure: As seen from the SoC manufacturer

The System on Chip manufacturer (SoC) follows the steps below:

  1. Build the SoC.
  2. Send a request for credentials through the Sigfox Support Portal. Connect with you usual login, go to the Common Request section, and choose Service Request. Don't forget to indicate your M_ certificate number (M_xxxx_xxxx_xx) and the number of IDs requested.
  3. Download the credentials (ID/PAC/NAK) from the Sigfox CRA.
  4. Test the SoC.
  5. Flash the credentials into the chip.
  6. Upload the generated credentials on CRA in a secure way. Note: Sigfox will eventually remove this step.
  7. Make the SoC available for purchase.

The credential procedure: As seen from the modem manufacturer

The modem manufacturer can follow two procedures, depending on whether the modem needs to feature a SE/SoC component or only a regular modem.

With Secure Elements or SoC:

  1. Buy a SE or SoC chipset that embeds the Sigfox credentials from a SE/SoC manufacturer.
  2. Build the modem and include the chipset.
  3. Perform production testing on the modem with an RF path.
  4. Retrieve the SE/SoC's ID and PAC through proper software.
  5. Generate a file containing the ID and PAC of the current modem production.
  6. On the CRA, upload the file on the corresponding Sigfox Verified modem certificate (M_XXX).
  7. Write down instructions for the device maker, including how to retrieve the ID and PAC from the modem.
  8. Make the modem available for purchase.

With a regular modem (no Secure Elements nor SoC):

  1. Build the modem.
  2. Send a request for credentials through the Sigfox Support Portal. Connect with you usual login, go to the Common Request section, and choose Service Request. Don't forget to indicate your M_ certificate number (M_xxxx_xxxx_xx) and the number of IDs requested.
  3. Log in to the Sigfox CRA as a modem maker, and download the encrypted credential files (ID, PAC, and NAK). 
  4. Perform production testing on the modem with an RF path.
  5. Flash the credentials (ID, PAC, and NAK) into the modem.
  6. On the CRA, upload each modem on the corresponding Sigfox Verified modem certificate (M_XXX), delivered by the Sigfox certification team. This step is currently optional.
  7. Write down instructions for the device maker, including how to retrieve the ID and PAC from the modem.
  8. Make the modem available for purchase.

The credential procedure: As seen from the device maker

The device maker's procedure is the same whether the device supports Secure Elements and/or uses a SoC, or uses a regular modem.

  1. Buy modems with already-flashed Sigfox credentials from the modem manufacturer, the SE manufacturer or the SoC manufacturer.
  2. Build your production device with the modem.
  3. Calibrate the TX/RX path on the production test bench (frequency calibration, RX RSSI calibration).
  4. Perform production testing on the modem with an RF path. You do not have to register your device on the Sigfox backend to do so.
  5. Retrieve each device's production ID and PAC from the modem, by following the guidelines provided by your modem maker. This retrieval can be done by the test bench through RF or wired link.
  6. Build a file (.txt or .csv) containing the ID and PAC of the current devices that you manufactured. The expected format is described on the CRA.
  7. Log in to the CRA as a product maker, upload this file on the corresponding Sigfox Ready product certificate (P_ xxxx_xxxx) delivered by the Sigfox certification team.
  8. Package your device into a complete product, with all the necessary ancillaries: documentation, boxing, etc. Make sure to provide the ID, PAC and product certificate to the Sigfox customer, either in a file or on a label (QR code, barcode), or by any other means.
  9. Make the device available for purchase.

The credential procedure: As seen from the Sigfox customer 

  • Make sure to have the device's ID and PAC on hand, as well as its product certificate (P_xxxx_xxxx). The ID and PAC are transmitted to you in the product's package. The product certificate is available on the Sigfox Partner Network, or is provided by the device maker.
  • Register the ID, the PAC, and the product certificate into the Sigfox backend. Log in, click on the "New device" button and follow the procedure. Note: you must already have contracted a Sigfox subscription from your Sigfox Operator; this is what allows your devices to communicate on the Sigfox network.