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Disruptive IoT solution for optimising the animal feed supply chain

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A smart way to measure feed levels and upgrade the animal feed supply chain

Farmers need to know the amount of animal feed contained in their silos to avoid disruption to the supply chain. An EU-funded initiative has developed an easy to install, cost-efficient solution.

Food and Natural Resources

Animal feed suppliers have difficulty managing and planning deliveries to farms because of the inconsistent demand for their product. One of their main challenges is having to rely on farmers knowing their stock levels and forecasting their needs, which introduces an uncontrollable element into the feed supply chain. Most farmers check their feed silos once or twice a week, tapping them manually to get an approximation of the feed level. When the silos are almost empty, the farmers contact the animal feed suppliers, who then have around 24-48 hours to make their delivery. As a result, suppliers can fail to operate in an optimal way and incur additional costs for both themselves and the farmers. The INSYLO project addressed this challenge by providing the necessary data required to allow suppliers to optimise the feed supply, thereby reducing CO2 emissions throughout transportation and production and benefitting both suppliers and farmers. “The goal was to develop a commercially ready sensor with a scalable deployment and a platform for software licensed on a subscription basis,” says project coordinator and CEO of INSYLO Technologies, Jaume Gelada.

Simple to install

Researchers developed a smart way of monitoring the feedstock levels inside silos at a very low cost. Their solution is based on a patented volumetric 3D sensor that accurately measures the volume of a silo’s content by creating a topographical map of the inside of the silo. In addition, temperature and humidity conditions are monitored to achieve optimal storage conditions and avoid possible fungal or bacterial contamination. The device only takes 5 minutes to install and is permanently connected to the internet thanks to a wireless sensor network that is available even in areas without mobile phone coverage. Furthermore, the sensor does not need to be connected to the electricity grid as it is powered by solar panels and a set of rechargeable batteries, making it entirely self-sufficient. As the INSYLO sensor is completely autonomous, it is not necessary to extend the electricity grid to the silo or perform maintenance.

Instant reordering

The INSYLO solution allows farmers and suppliers to collaborate through a cloud-based platform that can be accessed any time, anywhere and on any device. “You can analyse consumption patterns, replenishment cycles and future trends. When stocks are below the set level, the INSYLO device sends a message via email or smartphone offering the possibility of sending the restocking order with a simple click,” Gelada explains. By applying the power of artificial intelligence, it is possible for the very first time to forecast feed demand (i.e. refill orders) and optimise feed trucks' delivery routes. “Once adopted by our target clients (feed suppliers), the INSYLO solution will completely disrupt the feed supply chain. The main impacts comprise the optimisation of the feedstock inventories, production batches, delivery routes and raw materials purchases. This translates into savings of up to EUR 500 per silo a year,” comments Gelada. Farmers will also benefit by no longer needing to climb to the top of a silo to check the feed level, thus reducing an occupational hazard, and can be confident that they will never run out of feed for their livestock. “Finally, from an environmental point of view, since INSYLO technology optimises feed delivery routes, it can reduce the carbon footprint of the feed supply chain by up to 25 %,” Gelada concludes.

Keywords

INSYLO, feed, silo, farmers, feed suppliers, 3D sensor, solar panels, rechargeable batteries, cloud, optimisation, monitoring

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