Keep every grain safe with a robot that swims through grain
by Dr Lorenzo Conti, Crover Ltd, UK
Crover Ltd is on a mission to help grain-storekeepers reduce losses and maintain optimum storage conditions. Its product, the 'Crover', is the first and only remote monitoring robotic device that provides real-time data on the temperature and moisture levels throughout the whole grain storage unit while 'swimming' through the grain.
Grain is the second most traded commodity in the world after oil and yet much of its supply chain processes are still dependent on archaic and old methods. In fact, up until now, a grain storage unit is a 'black box' – there is no clear picture of what is going on inside.
Like a drone's wings in air, or a boat's rotor in water, a Crover robot uses our patented method for locomotion in bulk solids to move through solid grains, while building a full map of conditions within the grain storage unit using sensors on its body. Grain-storekeepers will finally be able to enter and 'see within' any storage vessel and make proactive decisions to start optimising yield and revenue from every harvest besides #SavingGrains.
Store grain adequately or lose profit!
Cereal grains are the basis of staple food, yet post-harvest losses during long-term storage are exceptionally high, above 20 percent in the UK and worldwide. Pests are to blame, with grain moisture content and temperature being the most significant factors.
In developing and designing the Crover robot, we've researched and spoken to some of our potential customers so that our Crovers not only address the issue of verifying grain conditions within a storage unit, but they are also being created with the end user in mind. We're taking into account the entire customer journey, from setting up a Crover to receiving alerts on your phone when conditions aren't optimal.
Unlike current grain monitoring solutions, most of which only measure one variable and have limited reach, Crover's Phase 1 features and functions can lead to a reduction in spoilage, an increase in efficiency, and saved time as well as lowered overall costs. In Phase 2, Crover has the potential to become an all-in-one solution; additional sensors will be implemented on the Crover robot, to provide real-time measurements of grain volume in stock, insect presence, phosphine concentration, as well as to intervene topically to suboptimal conditions and to hinder the growth of infestations.
What about the environmental benefits?
Beyond the commercial value, this product is expected to have strong social impact while directly contributing to the UN Sustainable Development Goals for 2030: from reducing the global carbon footprint to reducing the need for pesticides, and to improving living conditions through higher food quality and quantity worldwide.
According to the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), 4.5 billion people are annually exposed to mycotoxins, which contaminate 25 percent of the world's food supply. Whereas, the carbon footprint from cereal storage losses amounts to 215 million tonnes CO2-equivalent/year, which is about six percent of global GHG from food waste. Furthermore, one-third of grain produced for food is lost during post-harvest processes such as storing. This is 1.3 billion tonnes of wasted food with a value of US $1 trillion per year.
How does Crover come into the picture?
In one year, one Crover could enable grain-storekeepers to reduce mass and quality losses by >80 percent. This equals a carbon saving of roughly 76t per year where 76t of CO2 equals 32 EU households' electricity! And by using Crover effectively to reduce grain spoilage, the formation of moulds that lead to dangerous toxins being released will consecutively also be reduced.
Interested in being a beta tester?
Customers such as farmers, brewers, cooperatives, as well as grain merchants, will soon be able to use Crover's minimum viable product from Phase 1, which will allow for early detection of potential spoilage in wheat and barley, in turn allowing for proactive management to reduce losses and maintain quality.
If you're a potential customer and interested in our solution, reach out to us! We're looking to recruit beta testers as we are now developing a version of the probing device to be tested and reviewed.