This use case deploys an innovative approach that secures and authenticates the transport of bulk-goods in the agri-food chain, both for feed and food with zero risk of contamination. Animal feed and human food producers invest a substantial amount of resources to establish a safe and traceable process for their products up until they depart the production site. However, no further control mechanism exists for the transport and delivery of these goods to customers’ silos. As a result, bulk goods are often delivered to the wrong silo, causing contamination and damages for the customer. A fully automated silo detection system, using IoT solutions, guarantees that the right bulk contents are correctly delivered, and that the specifics of that delivery are registered. Therefore, this use case makes the whole process fully traceable and mitigates the risk of contamination.
Traceable and secure deliveries
False deliveries of bulk contents happen every day all across the agricultural value chain. Sometimes it is a driver who confuses a silo and delivers the feed into the wrong silo. Other times the wrong feed is being discharged due to a wrong setting on the control panel of the trailer.
These identification mistakes result in severe and costly consequences. Hence, there is a need to guarantee the traceability of bulk food and feed deliveries from the moment it leaves the loading station right up to when it is delivered to a farm’s silo. A fully automated silo detection system, using IoT solutions, guarantees that the right bulk contents are correctly delivered, and that the specifics of that delivery are registered. This solution thus helps to prevent feed and food wastage caused by wrong deliveries. If the incident is detected right away it implies the full emptying and cleaning of the silo as well as the replacement of the feed. If the failed delivery stays undetected, the repercussions are even worse as that might result in animal illness, mortality or a delay of growth due to the wrong feed. In cases of organic feed this could lead to the withdrawal of the farms bio certification and severe loss in sales prices.
This use cases solution is called the Lambrecht Silo CoNNect which reduces the risk of wrong deliveries of animal feed to practically zero, resulting in lower costs as well as possibly better rates for transport insurance. The solution promises a 99% secure delivery of bulk goods into the right silo and with full traceability across the whole delivery process. Furthermore, it adds more security to farmer as well as the credibility of food labels as all relevant stakeholders can receive insights to delivery data and the process in general gets more trustworthy than ever before. To claim that a product is organic or fulfilling specific quality standards requires certainty along the entire value chain. Francis Lambrecht, the Use Case Coordinator, and help to bridge this gap from the very beginning: The delivery process. By doing so they increase farmers’ trust in the delivery and quality of their feed and furthermore consumer trust in the products on the shelf.
The technological setup
The detection system requires the establishment of communication between the loading station and the trailer, using Wi-Fi routers. The transferred data lists which kinds of animal feed are loaded in the different compartments of the trailer.
A base station device, controller and TAG wireless reader are all installed on the bulk trailer. The moment this reader confirms the connection with the right silo, the matching compartment of the trailer can be released and unloaded. To ensure the correct delivery, a unique TAG identification is also installed on each silo for all delivery addresses. Furthermore, the use case is able to localise all bulk trailers at any time, enabling real-time data delivery that even gives the end-users insights on preventive maintenance of the transport fleet. Due to the detailed monitoring of the discharging procedure direct alarms are sent in case of deviations during the delivery alongside guidance and support for truck drivers during the delivery process.
To achieve the objectives, the use case carried out field tests under controlled conditions at the beginning of the research project. Based on those tests, the team optimised the final design of all devices by incorporating the feedback of the end-users. After that, the use case started the production of their silo reader, the active TAG for air flow sensing as well as the passive TAG mounted on the silo. All of them are produced through mold manufacturing. A mold or mould is a hollowed-out block that is filled with a liquid or pliable material such as plastic, glass, or in this case metal. The liquid hardens or sets inside the mold, thereby adopting its shape.
User satisfaction of silo reader and uloading procedure
User satisfaction of trailer IoT equipment and loading procesure
Once the TAG supports were mounted at the location together with the farmers and feed producers and subsequently created in the smart silo server, all IoT devices were installed in the bulk trailers. By integrating all devices in the docking station (wireless charger, LoRa receiver, antennas, PLC controller) the circle of this innovation was closed and ready to deliver its results and data. The custom-made application programming interface (API) centralises all this information and enables the monitoring of the entire discharging procedure. This way the technology establishes complete traceability from factory to client. The abundance of incoming data can also be successfully used for extra features such as bulk blowing trailer performances, real-time transport management, digital shipping documents or farmer silo management.
Collaboration and knowledge exchange
We mentioned farmer silo management in our previous chapter as an additional feature this use case can offer. By collaborating with our partners from the meat use case Feed Supply Chain Management, the teams of both use cases could combine their expertise.
Since the other use case is concentrating their research on the monitoring of silo content, this was an interesting additional feature for this use case as well. Therefore, both use case explored if a collaborative business model based on the information and data exchange on the smart silo server platform is possible. This way, the Lambrecht Silo CoNNect system could evolve to a full management system for dynamic on-demand deliveries directly from the feed producing farm to the animal farm reducing the need of central storage facilities. The trend towards digital marketplaces that arrange deals directly between growers and buyers for grains and feed is already disrupting the market in the US. A trend which might very well spread to Europe soon. In this new market context, the smart silo server platform could become an enabler or even a provider of on-demand delivery services by working closely together with digital feed markets, feed experts, feed growers and animal farmers. The database platform could bundle information on feed quality, origin, transportation and supply it to other players in the value chain.
Achievements, products & services
Real time data delivery and localisation of all trailers
Secured delivery procedures through traceability from factory to client
Detailed monitoring of the discharging procedure and
Direct alarm in case of deviations during the deliveries
Data concerning preventive maintenance data of the end-user’s transport fleet
Improved food safety in supply chain by prevention of feed contamination