Earlier this month, I had an opportunity to present at The Food Leaders’ Summit in Chicago. With an audience representing some of the leading players in the food management, marketing, research, and manufacturing industries, the summit addressed important issues, ongoing transformation, and technology innovations happening in the industry.
For Dell, this was an opportunity to discuss our point of view on the Agriculture IoT space, as well as discuss our reference architecture to enable the Agriculture IoT ecosystem. Now, IoT is not new and although it is often framed as an emerging trend, it is not a future prospect. Many companies already have sensors on their equipment that allow them to do predictive maintenance. However, let’s take a step back. Here is our definition of IoT: it is an ecosystem where sensors, devices, and equipment are connected to a network, and can transmit and receive data for tracking, analyzing, and taking business actions.
Agriculture industry has emerged as an early adopter of IoT and is experiencing significant success. According to the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization, food production must increase 60% to be able to feed the growing population expected to hit 9 billion in 2050. The global food challenge necessitates that farmers find new sources of productivity.
The entire agriculture supply chain – from the farm, logistics and retail – is becoming even more connected with information. Food products and ingredients can be tagged via RFIDs for tracking and tracing, and help raise the level of transparency and consumer confidence. Farmers are already investing in crop monitoring using sensors to develop crop yield maps, tracking efficiency in livestock farming, and monitor for potential signs of diseases. Some of the key use cases for Agriculture IoT are summarized in the chart below:
Now, Agriculture IoT is not new to Dell. The Chitale Dairy case study is a perfect example of how Dell helped to improve the milk yield per animal by monitoring the feeding and breeding of animals through RFID sensors. But monitoring of cows with RFID tags and collecting the data was only the first step in realizing IoT benefits. Analyzing the vast amount of data produced about, for example, the food consumption, health records, and milk production of 6000 head of cattle, and making that information available to farmers via mobile devices is what helped farmers make better decisions in caring for their cows that led to improved milk yields.
“We’ve transformed our dairy operations using technology, and the feeding and breeding of animals is now monitored by computers. By automating the collection of data from each farm, we have improved animal health, leading to increased milk yield per animal. We’ve also streamlined the efficiency of our distribution channels for faster delivery of our milk products to consumers,” says Vishvas Chitale, director, Chitale Dairy.
Although the benefits of Agriculture IoT sound enticing, there are a couple of architectural challenges that need to be addressed before locking on a solution.
An example reference architecture that comprehends some of these above considerations is shown below.
To assist companies in overcoming the hurdles in setting up Industrial IoT technologies, Dell has set up the Dell Internet of Things (IoT) Lab. Companies can come to the lab - located in the Dell Silicon Valley Solution Center in Santa Clara, CA - to receive assistance in architecting solutions to their IoT problems.
To learn more about the Dell IoT Lab, please see http://dell.com/iot . To learn more about the software solutions Dell offers in this space, please visit http://software.dell.com/
Cow image courtesy of Ian Hughes.
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