Wireless grain monitoring using IoT technology
by Vaughn Entwistle, Managing Editor, Milling And Grain
Asilo full of grain is like a bank vault stuffed with cash—the result of a farmer"s investment in hard work, long hours, and capital expenditure. But cash locked in a bank vault cannot degrade, whereas a silo full of grain can lose its value due to mould, fungus, and mildew, and even suffer potentially catastrophic losses due to an infestation of pests such as rodents and insects. Most banks add an additional layer of security in the form of alarm systems to protect what"s stored in their heavy steel vaults. Now there are monitoring systems available that allow companies to safeguard and monitor the conditions inside their grain storage facilities 24/7.
TeleSense, a California-based company, recently introduced its new monitoring system the TeleSense GrainSafe™. The system allows operators to quickly set up a remote monitoring solution to monitor all kinds of storage units, including sheds, silos, bins and bulkheads. GrainSafe works with most grains (such as wheat, corn, barley, etc.) and is an effective solution for continuously monitoring temperature, moisture, and poisonous gases in stored grains, and for receiving immediate alerts if any parameter breaches the user-defined, acceptable range.
Monitoring potential hazards
The most critical factors in grain storage are moisture and temperature. High moisture content in grain, at certain temperatures, can promote the growth of moulds and fungi. Grains stored with high moisture levels can spoil and become unfit for food, and can even spontaneously ignite under ideal conditions. Temperature is another factor that can affect the quality and storage period for grains. Higher temperatures affect grain quality and the ability of stored seeds to germinate over time.
Monitoring temperature with existing temperature cables
For storage units that already have temperature cables installed, TeleSense has developed a Wireless Junction Box (WJB) that interfaces with existing temperature sensing setups and converts them into a potent wireless remote monitoring and predictive solution system.
The WJB continuously collects temperature data and sends it to the cloud for analysis. It preserves the investment in existing cables while upgrading them to the latest wireless IoT technology. It is ideal for remote monitoring of grain storages that may be located far away.
Grain storage units without existing temperature cables
For storage units that do not have existing temperature sensing cables, TeleSense developed a portable solution: the SensorBall™. A number of SensorBalls can be tossed into a grain pile or a horizontal storage (or a truck or a railcar) to collect the data wirelessly.
The SensorBall contains sensors for temperature and humidity and is ideal for use in grain bulkheads. The sensors are battery powered and communicate wirelessly with an on-site gateway which transmits the data to the cloud for processing. Monitoring software in the cloud analyses the data and issues immediate alerts via SMS (Short Message Service sent via cellular/mobile telephone) when any sensor readings are outside of user-defined ranges. Installing a SensorBall is as easy as turning it on and placing it within the layers of the stored grain. The SensorBalls are powered by simple AA batteries that typically provide a year"s service. The sensors are recovered for reuse once the grain has been removed.
Whether collected through SensorBalls, or through existing temperature cables, the data is wirelessly transmitted to the cloud. Monitoring software in the cloud analyses the data and issues immediate alerts via SMS or email when any sensor readings are outside of user-defined ranges.
The color-coded dashboard provides users with an instant bird"s eye view of all their stored grain and its current conditions regardless of where they are located. Historical data on temperature and humidity allows users to compute several quality parameters and detect possible hot spots with the storage structure.
TeleSense gives users peace of mind knowing that their stored assets are continuously being monitored for temperature, humidity and ideal storage conditions; resulting in reduced spoilage, higher grain quality, increased profits and safety.