Smart Irrigation Month Q&A: OptConnect

In this Smart Irrigation Month Q&A, Justin Nichols of OptConnect breaks down the company's smart irrigation involvement and future plans.
In this series spanning July, read about how the irrigation industry’s companies, providers, manufacturers and individuals use smart irrigation practices to save water.
In this Smart Irrigation Month Q&A, Justin Nichols of OptConnect breaks down the company's smart irrigation involvement and future plans.

Smart irrigation is only made possible due to the companies, providers, manufacturers and individuals that push the envelope daily when it comes to efficient water use. To celebrate this year’s Smart Irrigation Month sponsored by HydroPoint, Irrigation & Lighting magazine sought to highlight these sustainability champions through a series of Q&As spanning through July.

Justin Nichols, national sales executive at OptConnect, Kaysville, Utah, breaks down OptConnect’s unique smart irrigation involvement, what it means to them as a company and how they’ll push for an even better future of irrigation.

OptConnect, Kaysville, Utah

Justin Nichols, national sales executive

What does smart irrigation look like to OptConnect?

Smart irrigation for OptConnect is all about empowering an enterprise by streamlining the customer’s wireless connectivity strategy.

The more equipment we can connect in their portfolio, the “smarter” their irrigation systems become, thus taking full advantage of the benefits of the Internet of Things, and ultimately saving and preserving water.

How does OptConnect promote smart irrigation?

OptConnect provides the irrigation industry with a wireless cellular communications package that can be integrated into any OEM’s controller and central control. This can be easily retrofitted into existing irrigation systems or specified on new irrigation designs. Connecting your equipment to the internet allows you to remotely monitor and operate your equipment in real-time or to run autonomously. This allows the system to operate more efficiently, thus saving time and money in system operation, prolonging system components and most importantly, saving water.

OptConnect regularly attends industry events nationwide and is an active stakeholder to promote irrigation smart management and best practices, such as a member of the Irrigation Association.

What role can education play in increasing and improving smart irrigation?

Education is paramount in improving smart irrigation. Through education and partnerships, we can leverage all these new technologies and apply them to any enterprise. OptConnect specializes in cellular IoT hardware and services, allowing our team to be hyper-focused in our niche of wireless communications, and then extending our keen knowledge base so that any enterprise can keep up with trends in our industry.

We do not have to sacrifice what we do as an industry to save water, but we can change our best practices around irrigation to enable better products and services for our industry. Ultimately, we feel that the more knowledge and tools irrigation professionals have, the more we can emphasize the need for smart irrigation and water management to support water conservation.

This year’s smart irrigation Month theme is “Proud of our past. Focused on the future.” What makes you proud of smart irrigation’s past, and how are you focusing on smart irrigation’s future?

Today, there are more technologies than ever that a landscape professional can access to implement smart irrigation and water management. The capabilities of these systems seem to be endless and put the automation, monitoring, and control of your connected portfolio of equipment right at your fingertips.

We are focused on our mission statement of “fully managed connectivity” to empower the irrigation community to be able to adopt best practices focused on smart irrigation and conservation. We are focusing on smart irrigation’s future by always looking to collaborate and partner with new irrigation technologies and companies.

What are the best ways you’ve learned to encourage clients or customers to use smart irrigation practices?

OptConnect is regularly connecting and communicating with irrigation professionals, regional and national irrigation and landscape distributors, irrigation design professionals and landscape management companies.

We encourage the use of wireless remote communications to facilitate monitoring and operating as a best practice for smart irrigation. This enables an entire enterprise to easily deploy and scale a connected smart irrigation solution, as well as updating existing controls to enable smart water management. This also reduces the number of trucks on the road, thus also reducing our carbon footprint.

What makes you a champion of promoting smart irrigation? Is there something new or different you’d like to try in order to improve smart irrigation?

As OptConnect’s irrigation and water expert, I have over 17 years of experience working with OEMs, distribution channel partners and end-users across multiple water markets. My wealth of knowledge crosses many markets, allowing me to bring unique and fresh ideas to smart irrigation and smart water management and applying best practices from other water markets.

In the future, it would be interesting to look at markets such as stormwater and greywater recycling, to partner on more widespread programs and collaborations to create a “smart-connected-treatment-train” for irrigation.

Read other Smart Irrigation Month Q&As.

Do you have a Smart Irrigation Month story to share? Let us know what smart irrigation means to you and your company!

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