Figure 1. The local full-coverage LORAWAN network composed of multiple RFID tag nodes and multiple gateways.


In the hospital drug management scenario, some drugs are stored in the medicine box. However, the consumption and surplus always require manual inventory, which occupies a lot of manpower and material resources. At the same time, drug managers cannot see the consumption statistics of various types of drugs on a macro level, which leads to untimely replenishment.


Besides hospitals, there are many other fields facing the same problem, for example, how to track a huge amount of parcels in a timely manner in a logistics system or how to count the consumption of materials in a warehouse system. This is a very classic one-way IoT scenario (i.e., one-way flow of data) with a wide market of demand. For the hospital medicine box scenario, how to identify drugs, and networking is key, and we must take into account that the Internet does not necessarily exist. At the same time, drug data management, statistics, and replenishment notification functions are also important.


Figure 2. Architecture of our system.

In this work, we explore how to implement IoT networking in an Internet-free environment, as well as effectively track the incoming and outgoing drug inventory, and the management and application of this data.

1. We put a passive UHF RFID tag on each drug box, and each tag stores a 64-bit unique code for that drug inside, while placing SparkFun's RFID reader (including antenna) on the top of the drug box, and a reader can cover the whole drug box.

2. Considering the hospital environment, the Internet may not have full coverage, so we use LoRa for networking, each RFID reader with a LoRa node, and then each floor deploys a LoRa gateway to receive data from the nearby LoRa nodes, and the gateway sends the data to the server through the Internet.

3. On the data application side, we count the consumption trend of each drug, as well as the real-time stock, and if it is below the threshold, the administrator replenishes or stocks it at the same time.


We simulate drug consumption and replenishment scenarios, and the details of the drugs and consumption trends can be clearly seen in the quantity management platform we developed. However, limited by the capability of RFID reader, the medicine cannot be tracked 100%, which is the next step we need to investigate and improve.

Figure 3. Data statistics and visualization on modular data analytics platform [Dator].


LoRawan, Gateway, RFID, IoT, Data Visualization, Medicines Management



Figure 4. Hardware testing with my coworkers.

Figure 5. Gateway consisting of Raspberry Pi and PG1301 [SX1301].

Figure 6. Node module composed of RFID reader, LoRa, Arduino.


Video 1. Version 1-based system experiments.

Video 2. Version 2-based system experiments.