Technology Spain , Salamanca, Wednesday, May 02 of 2018, 09:22

An intelligent system monitors the amount of feed that contains a silo

Through a project of the BISITE group of the University of Salamanca developed with intelligent sensors

FGUSAL/DICYT Researchers from the University of Salamanca have developed an intelligent system to monitor the amount of feed that a farm silo contains. Hitting the container from outside is, until now, the only resource that exists to estimate if it is necessary to fill it. However, this project incorporates a sensor with laser technology and a management platform that automatically alerts when empty.

The BISITE research group has developed this project, called SILOSENS, which is based on an IoT device (Internet of Things) to create a low-cost system that allows large volumes to be measured. "We estimate the full volume of the silo and the remaining amount of feed so that a farm can predict when it will be empty and notify the delivery truck," says Javier Prieto, the researcher responsible for the initiative.

Researchers have designed a device that is placed inside the silo and, through a laser, detects if there is feed and how high it reaches. Several engines allow you to rotate in all directions necessary to perform a full estimation. This way he takes the measurements and sends them to a web system, where they are processed. Each type of feed has a different density, so depending on the volume the system can calculate very accurately how many kilos are left.

The device is installed in each silo independently since it could be powered by batteries, solar panels or directly connected to the power grid to avoid maintenance problems. It sends a wireless signal that can be transmitted via Wi-Fi or by 4G, and it can be programmed as often as desired, every second or once a day if the managers of the farm decide that it is not necessary to check the content so frequently.

"The system is designed so that various parameters can be customized, for example, the rotation angles of the device and its accuracy," says Ramiro Sánchez, who is also part of BISITE research group involved in the project. When the data is sent to the digital platform, "we represent the volume in three dimensions," he adds.
The data is received on the server, processed and displayed on the web page, which allows you to configure different silos with different identities and automatically obtain the measurements for each one of them. The platform also predicts when each silo will be emptied, so that the company can better manage supplies.


Additional sensors to collect more information

In addition, the system incorporates other sensors that allow monitoring temperature and humidity. Thus the owners can have more information and with it, draw many conclusions not only about the conservation of the feed but its exploitation in general. For example, "cold and humidity affect animals and may have some impact on feed consumption," says Javier Prieto.

On the platform, you can register all the silos and farms that may be necessary. In fact, "if there are two nearby farms, a delivery route could be optimized, since transportation is also expensive".

The pilot test that has demonstrated the reliability of the system has been developed in a farm of the Hermi group, thanks to the call Proof of Concept of the General Foundation of the University of Salamanca and the TCUE program from Castilla y León regional Government.

Although the application for the feed silo is the first one that has been developed with this system, there are many other possibilities. Within the primary sector, it could be used to measure the volume of a milk tank. In other areas, the uses can be very diverse, such as detecting the presence of people in any work space.