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Despite the industry being in a state of post-revolution following the onset and adoption of machinery, there is a batch of technologies that already define the state of technological innovation in agriculture.

 

The agricultural sector is in the middle of the data-driven transformation. Farmers and commodity traders are heading towards technological innovation in agriculture, adopting data analytics and smart farming technologies. Facing a crucial period in their history, agricultural businesses are tasked with combating the issues that will change not only their working methods but the world as we know it.

The agribusiness issues at hand

One of the greatest pain points associated with agriculture is the ability to predict the events that will achieve a given result.

Conditions play even less in the favour of farms positioned within markets that face rising production costs. The global population reaching 9.6 billion people by 2050, up from around 7 billion at present, according to forecasts from the United Nations, combined with the spread of economic prosperity are adding great pressure to the market. The UN suggests the doubling of crop production by 2050 as a countermeasure to this growth.

Some farmers simply cannot increase their land in order to grow more crops. As a result, there is a case for technology to make better use of the space available.

 

How IoT and predictive analytics can solve agriculture’s pressing problems

To become more efficient, agricultural businesses need data and plenty of it. This opens the door for technological innovation, as the size of these businesses and their plots of land prevent any kind of manual surveying.

Already we are seeing an active use of IoT devices to analyse the status of crops, capturing real-time data with sensors. For instance, with soil sensors, farmers can detect any irregular conditions such as high acidity and efficiently tackle these issues to improve their yield.

The data gathered from sensors allows to apply advanced analytics and get the insight that aid decisions around harvesting, while machine learning can transform the figures into solid predictions. Using advanced analytics, agricultural businesses can forecast yields, foresee unexpected weather conditions, predict market demand and mitigate risks, as well as better plan their capacity.

Agricultural drone is also among the key components of smart farming today. Tasked with the surveying of crop and livestock conditions from up high, their use of time lapsing within onboard cameras is helping farmers identify problems in areas like irrigation, which would otherwise go undetected.

Other members of the drone family allow for the spraying of crops at a greater accuracy than a tractor. As an added benefit, this also seeks to reduce the risk of human exposure to harmful chemicals. Back to ground level, there is potential for other robots to help out with manual duties like planting, ploughing and meat production.

The end goal in this case? A more efficient, more effective farm.

 

Conclusion

To spell things out: population growth could mean that every agricultural business will have to increase their levels of productivity over the next 30 years. That said, a review of the tech on today’s market suggests even the most specific problems can be matched with smart agribusiness solutions.

In the era of smart agriculture, IoT and predictive analytics are powering more efficient operations around the world. Combining IoT with analytics, agribusinesses get accurate predictions for crops and market conditions, allowing to increase their yields and profits. Smart application of technologies can facilitate warehouse and inventory management, help plan and execute seasonal works with the automated flow of data from the fields and agro-research labs.

Get in touch to discuss where the IoT can help futureproof your own agricultural business.

 

Originally published at eleks.com

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Iot and IIoT has made it a long way in the past several years. In fact, according to Forbes, trillions of dollars are at stake as the Industrial Internet of Things rolls out over the next decade. But, has the multi-tillion dollar trend lived up to the hype?

It could be many more years until certain industries reach the levels described in the hype.  Here’s the industries you should keep your eye on when it comes to IIoT technology.

The Internet of Things and the Industrial Internet of Things (IoT and IIoT, respectfully), widely encompasses many concepts, technologies, and products, but can generally be described as:

  • A system that contains wired or wirelessly connected components which relay data that can be analyzed or used to control an output of the system
  • A network that allows for automated information exchange between two devices
  • A vision where any and all systems are connected to gather masses of data that will lead to overall improved performance, insights, and control

As of 2018, we most commonly see IoT being used for location tracking, remote monitoring, and preventative maintenance.  Yet, for IIoT the most common application is preventative maintenance. Many of these IIoT systems report back to a control interface, and are not completely automated control loops that are self-evaluating or self-improving.

 

There are some industries in particular that stand out when looking at the IIoT.  We looked at trends that will progress through the end of 2018 into 2019, and asked the following questions.

  1. What industries will be most affected by IoT solutions?

According to BI Intelligence, the ‘Manufacturing’ and ‘Transportation and Warehousing’ industries have received the highest amount of investment in IoT to date.  These investments, totaling $230B between the two industries over the past few years, will continue to drive impressive progress in the development of IoT solutions. 

  1. Who will be the key players in IIoT Solutions in 2019?

We are currently witnessing a race to capture the IIoT market.  AT&T is collaborating with Honeywell, Verizon offers a machine-to-machine (M2M) management platform called ThingSpace, and startups like Uptake Technologies are raising absurd amounts of capital to compete with existing analytics giants. Uptake alone has raised $218M since 2015, and specializes in analytics of complex data sets. 

Nearly all of the corporate giants you would expect to have a stake in the race are putting serious resources behind their efforts.  GE is offering Predix, and end-to-end Industrial IoT Platform, and has incorporated capabilities like Predix Edge to allow for edge computing within the platform.  Siemens offers their own Industrial IoT platform called MindSphere, and Bosch is also getting in on the action now offering their IoT Suite publicly available on AWS Marketplace. Further, Schneider Electric developed WonderWare and SAP offers Hana.

We expect that through 2019 we will see more partnerships develop, offering cross compatibility between the many platforms which are available today.

  1. What further developments in IIoT can we expect in the near future?

Security will continue to be a major focus for all providers and users of the IIoT.   In a recent publication Steve Watson, CEO of VTO Labs, explains “security and specifically the ability to detect compromised nodes, together with collecting and preserving evidences of an attack or malicious activities emerge as a priority in successful deployment of IoT networks.” This ability to detect and preserve evidence of a cyber-attack will not only need to occur through edge computing, but it will also need to be maintain its integrity with interoperability of different systems that are linked together.

Given the amount of investment we are seeing in the ‘Manufacturing’ and ‘Transportation and Warehousing’ industries we expect to see many breakthroughs in both cyber security for the IIoT and interoperability between the many IIoT platforms. Looking into 2019 we can expect to see more partnerships between major sensor providers and network providers, such as the AT&T Honeywell collaboration we saw in 2018. With more interoperability and collaboration, 2019 may be the year that we see the major breakthroughs in IIoT we’ve been expecting.

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For more than a century, advances in technology, machinery and automation have oftentimes replaced humans as a means to accomplish tasks. In this podcast, Rob Tiffany tackles the unsavory topic of workforce reduction as certain tasks have evolved from manual to mobile to IoT.

Listen to the Podcast 

 

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Tibbo Project System (TPS) is a highly configurable, affordable, and innovative automation platform. It is ideal for home, building, warehouse, and production floor automation projects, as well as data collection, distributed control, industrial computing, and device connectivity applications.

Suppliers of traditional “control boxes” (embedded computers, PLCs, remote automation and I/O products, etc.) typically offer a wide variety of models differing in their I/O capabilities. Four serial ports and six relays. Two serial ports and eight relays. One serial port, four relays, and two sensor inputs. These lists go on and on, yet never seem to contain just the right mix of I/O functions you are looking for.

Rather than offering a large number of models, Tibbo Technology takes a different approach: Our Tibbo Project System (TPS) utilizes Tibbits® – miniature electronic blocks that implement specific I/O functions. Need three RS232 ports? Plug in exactly three RS232 Tibbits! Need two relays? Use a relay Tibbit. This module-based approach saves you money by allowing you to precisely define the features you want in your automation controller.

Here is a closer look at the process of building a custom Tibbo Project System.

Start with a Tibbo Project PCB (TPP)

 

 

A Tibbo Project PCB is the foundation of TPS devices.

Available in two sizes – medium and large – each board carries a CPU, memory, an Ethernet port, power input for +5V regulated power, and a number of sockets for Tibbit Modules and Connectors.

Add Tibbit® Blocks

Tibbits (as in “Tibbo Bits”) are blocks of prepackaged I/O functionality housed in brightly colored rectangular shells. Tibbits are subdivided into Modules and Connectors.

Want an ADC? There is a Tibbit Module for this. 24V power supply? Got that! RS232/422/485 port? We have this, and many other Modules, too.

Same goes for Tibbit Connectors. DB9 Tibbit? Check. Terminal block? Check. Infrared receiver/transmitter? Got it. Temperature, humidity, and pressure sensors? On the list of available Tibbits, too.

Assemble into a Tibbo Project Box (TPB)

Most projects require an enclosure. Designing one is a tough job. Making it beautiful is even tougher, and may also be prohibitively expensive. Finding or making the right housing is a perennial obstacle to completing low-volume and hobbyist projects.

Strangely, suppliers of popular platforms such as Arduino, Raspberry Pi, and BeagleBone do not bother with providing any enclosures, and available third-party offerings are primitive and flimsy.

Tibbo understands enclosure struggles and here is our solution: Your Tibbo Project System can optionally be ordered with a Tibbo Project Box (TPB) kit.

The ingenious feature of the TPB is that its top and bottom walls are formed by Tibbit Connectors. This eliminates a huge problem of any low-volume production operation – the necessity to drill holes and openings in an off-the-shelf enclosure.

The result is a neat, professionally looking housing every time, even for projects with the production quantity of one.

Like boards, our enclosures are available in two sizes – medium and large. Medium-size project boxes can be ordered in the LCD/keypad version, thus allowing you to design solutions incorporating a user interface.

 

Unique Online Configurator

To simplify the process of planning your TPS we have created an Online Configurator.

Configurator allows you to select the Tibbo Project Board (TPP), “insert” Tibbit Modules and Connectors into the board’s sockets, and specify additional options. These include choosing whether or not you wish to add a Tibbo Project Box (TPB) enclosure, LCD and keypad, DIN rail mounting kit, and so on. You can choose to have your system shipped fully assembled or as a parts kit.

Configurator makes sure you specify a valid system by watching out for errors. For example, it verifies that the total power consumption of your future TPS device does not exceed available power budget. Configurator also checks the placement of Tibbits, ensuring that there are no mistakes in their arrangement.

Completed configurations can be immediately ordered from our online store. You can opt to keep each configuration private, share it with other registered users, or make it public for everyone to see.

Develop your application


Like all programmable Tibbo hardware, Tibbo Project System devices are powered by Tibbo OS (TiOS).

Use our free Tibbo IDE (TIDE) software to create and debug sophisticated automation applications in Tibbo BASIC, Tibbo C, or a combination of the two languages.

To learn more about the Tibbo Project System click here

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OPC Server from Tibbo Technology

OPC – «Open Platform Communications» – is a set of standards and specifications for manufacturing telecommunication. OPC specifies the transfer of real-time plant data between control devices from various producers. OPC was designed to process control hardware and support a common bridge for Windows-based software applications. OPC was aimed to reduce the number of duplicated effort performed by hardware manufacturers and their software partners.

 

The most typical OPC specification, OPC Data Access (OPC DA), is supported by Tibbo OPC Server. Any device compatible with the Tibbo AggreGate protocol can be a data source. AggreGate is a white-label IoT integration platform using up-to-date network technologies to control, configure, monitor and support electronic devices, along with distributed networks of such electronic devices. It also helps you collect device data in the cloud, where you can slice and dice it in alignment with your needs. In addition, the platform lets other enterprise applications transparently access this data via the AggreGate server.

Tibbo OPC server has embedded AggreGate network protocol. It can both interact with any Tibbo devices via AggreGate agent protocol and connect to AggreGate server. The AggreGate agent protocol open-source solution is published for Java, C#, and C++ programming languages, so your connection scheme is not restricted to AggreGate server  or Tibbo devices only.

 

Examples

A simple example: TPS reads Tibbit #29 (Ambient temperature meter) and forwards data to OPC server via AggreGate agent protocol.

A more complex example: we have a Windows-based PC controlling a wood processing machine by means of AggreGate server through the Modbus protocol. If Tibbo OPC server is linked with AggreGate server, the data from the machine is sent to Tibbo OPC server, and therefore, we can operate and monitor the machine via any OPC client.

Technical Specification

  • Compatibility with Windows XP/2003 or later (Microsoft Visual C++ 2013 redistributable is required - installed automatically)

  • Support of DA Asynchronous I/O 2.0 and Synchronous I/O with COM/DCOM technology

Tibbo OPC Server transmits the information on the Value, Quality and Timestamp of an item (tag) to the OPC Client applications. These fields are read from the AggreGate variables.

 

The process values are set to Bad [Configuration Error] quality if OPC Server loses communication with its data source (AggreGate Agent or AggreGate Server). The quality is set to Uncertain [Non-Specific] if the AggreGate variable value is empty.

In the following chart below you can see a concordance table of the AggreGate variables and the OPC data types:

AggreGate Data Type OPC Data Type
INTEGER VT_I4
STRING VT_BSTR
BOOLEAN VT_BOOL
LONG VT_I8
FLOAT VT_R4
DOUBLE VT_R8
DATE VT_DATE
DATATABLE OPC VT_BSTR (by default)
COLOR VT_I4
DATA VT_BSTR

To learn more about Tibbo OPC server, click here

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