Safety advantages of connected silos
Technological solutions, especially connected objects, are increasingly attractive to farmers in the day-to-day management of their farms. Thanks to the strategic installation of sensors, it is now possible to monitor and control one’s farm remotely and to be alerted in case of possible risks (bad weather, pests, low grain stock levels, etc.).
The first angle of attack in the automation of operations is the use of connected silos. The operation of a connected silo is simple, all you have to do is connect a sensor to monitor in real time, thanks to the internet and a mobile application (or an online platform), all the measured data (interior temperature, grain storage level, grain density, etc.).
In addition, connected silos offer real advantages in terms of the security of both people and your data. We’d like to find out together why and how you can ensure that information about your operation doesn’t fall into the wrong hands.
The safety and physical integrity of farm operators
The safety risks associated with the use of silos are real. Every year, dramatic accidents occur for many reasons:
- the risk during the traditional (i.e. visual) evaluation of the storage level, requiring to climb on the silo to carry out the control with the risks of falling from height either outside or inside the silo (risk of burial by moving grains or linked to mechanical parts in the silo) ;
- The risk of explosion of a silo is real, especially because of the accumulation of highly flammable grain dust and deposits on the walls, a spark or a rise in internal temperature may be sufficient;
- the risk of electrocution during maintenance or replenishment operations in the event of the presence of overhead power lines in the vicinity.
In this respect, the use of a connected silo allows you to protect yourself to a large extent from security risks thanks to a remote control of your storage locations, the density and condition of the grains, as well as the temperature inside the silo.
The security of the installation of the connected silos
Moreover, connecting a silo to a mobile application to monitor it remotely has never been easier. Simply install a sensor, at human height, outside the silo.
The advantage of an external sensor is that you don’t have to go inside the silo, with all the risks that this entails, but it is also more efficient because grain dust can disturb the operation of an internal sensor. The sensor consists of the sensor itself (strain gauge) to be installed on the silo base and an electronic communication box to be connected to the sensor. The sensor is then thermally protected with an insulating protective foam.
Finally, the majority of products have a lifespan of 5 to 10 years and do not require any human intervention for maintenance.
The digital security of the connected system
Sensor reliability has improved significantly with the expansion of IoT (Internet of Things) and other connected systems and tools. Today, a sensor is capable of providing reliable information with an accuracy of 10%. This information is sent directly to the cloud of the operator of the connected system, to be then processed through algorithms and sent back to the application or dashboard of the customer’s private internet access.
What about the protection of your data?
The security level of your installation should be studied on a case-by-case basis with the company providing the connected system service, as several factors must be taken into account:
- At the intended use, the risk is lower for a simple data upload as opposed to a remote control of your tools;
- The level of deployment of the connected system should also be considered, as a large-scale deployment presents more data security risks than the installation of a few sensors.
How to secure your connected silos?
First of all, the choice of technology used by your service provider is already a first level of security, such as the use of low-speed networks allowing the circulation of encrypted data.
But for optimal security, you need to have a global view of the IoT system: the sensors, the online platform, the application and the network infrastructure.
- Sensors must be designed by IoT professionals with quality components and products and must be equipped with a “secure element” system to limit access to the connection ports.
- The choice of platform and especially the communication protocol is important for the protection of your data. It is strongly recommended to choose a protocol using a native encryption algorithm for the encryption of your information. Telecom IoT operators now offer electronic safe solutions allowing the secure storage of encryption keys of actors specialized in the service of connected objects. In addition, the use of existing infrastructures (such as data centers or blackhauls for GPS data) is highly recommended, as these tools already have high-performance protection.
- Certification of connected objects provided by your service provider is an additional guarantee of their protection, including encryption keys and remote control access to connected tools.
- Using an expert in the field of connected objects is a more secure strategy than going into connected silos or other IoT systems on your own with the purchase of hardware over the internet. Indeed, for an optimal level of security, especially for large-scale deployments or the use of remote control, it is necessary to set up an IoT architecture adapted to the level of risk linked to the type of system in place.
With the growing development of connected objects, digital security is now a major issue for user companies and is driving the various market players (manufacturers, service providers, telecom operators, etc.) to implement increasingly secure solutions for their customers.