What are the benefits of monitoring agricultural silos?
All operators are required to check their storage silos daily and to follow safety standards. The monitoring of these silos is therefore a responsible act that is the responsibility of each farmer or silo manager. The ageing of the silo, possible deterioration and problems with the conservation of raw materials can be observed visually. What about the quantity of stock in the silo? How can it be monitored in a simple and automated way? Here is the solution: install connected silo sensors.
Why monitor your silos with a sensor? The aim here is to completely rethink the management and organization of each agricultural structure. They have been greatly improved by the arrival of digital technology in the daily life of professionals in the sector. Each sensor makes it possible to optimize stocks and anticipate orders in an almost automatic way, by collecting data specific to each silo.
Definition and presentation of the connected silo
A connected silo automates the raw material supply chain. It collects data on :
- the silo stock ;
- the date of the last silo supply ;
- medicines and food products present.
Operation of the silo sensor
The silo is equipped with a measuring sensor installed on one of its legs. This sensor provides the tonnage remaining in the silo tank. It thus enters the world of IoT (or Internet of Things) and sends all the collected data to the cloud where an algorithm performs the calculations.
It perceives the weight variation in each silo after use, in a totally automatic way. It then calculates the new data specific to each silo.
The mobile application, installed on the silo manager’s cell phone, gives him the new elements. It quickly became clear that this method of managing the farm’s silos is an excellent way of anticipating supply disruptions. Thus, depending on the data received, the farmer or silo manager can :
- predict the consumption of the silo ;
- trigger a delivery ;
- consult additional data ;
- find solutions to a specific problem ;
- integrate these elements into the company’s management software.
The data sent to the storage manager
The measuring system of these sensors provides a lot of information necessary for the organization of the silos. The farmer or the silo manager queries the web platform using his cell phone, from which he obtains information in real-time. With an accuracy of around 10%, the sensor regularly sends the stocks of products present in the silos such as :
- cereals ;
- the feeding of the breeding ;
- seeds ;
- phytosanitary products.
These data allow us to anticipate the actions to be taken in the case of a quality approach to these supplies.
Why install a sensor-based silo management system?
Simply to take advantage of recent advances in agricultural supply chain management. A farmer should not run out of feed stock for his livestock. The advantages of silo monitoring by sensors are therefore numerous.
- Safety: it is no longer necessary to visually check the silo’s stock level. The farmer no longer takes a risk by going to the top of the silo to inspect it.
- Optimized management: no more supply shortages. The silo manager knows exactly the level of grain or products present in the silo, and indicates when replenishment is necessary ;
- Early delivery: no more emergency deliveries due to low stock levels.
- Reduced transportation costs: Sensors and data received facilitate the consolidation of deliveries and the optimization of expenses inherent in the transportation of grain and feed products.
- Virtually automatic operation: the web application allows the delivery of livestock products, feed, phytosanitary products, etc. to be triggered by a simple click.
- Constantly updated stocks: the stock calculation method provides precise information on the stock level, thanks to the computer management of the sensors installed on the silos.
- Saves time: information on silo contents is instantaneous.
- Integration in the company’s ERP: the data is included in the company’s management software. This allows the farmer or cooperative group to forecast the amount of cash to be set aside.
- Accounting: order invoices are integrated into the company’s accounting system. Reconciliations between the bank and supplier invoices are facilitated.
- Silo Dashboard: the application provides a global and individual dashboard of all silos.
- Product consumption monitoring: immediate detection of any product leakage or abnormally high use of a silo.
- Consumption statistics: a high-performance method of automated calculations provides statistics of this type, per silo and for the entire installation.
This solution, as well as the advantages brought by the installation of sensors on the feet of the silos, represents a new experience in the daily management of silos. It brings the entire agricultural chain in France, and in particular the distribution of feed to animals, to a different way of managing them.
The arrival in France of silos managed by the IoT thus offers many opportunities for the development and improvement of the silo management method.