Bulk Commodity Storage with wireless product quality control and safeguarding

 

SafeHost Bulk Monitoring System is a superior wireless monitoring solution for product quality control and monitoring-and-safeguarding-perishable-goodssafeguarding of perishable goods (edible goods like soy, cocoa, canola,  and energy sources like coal and wood pellets). Sensite’s solution enables monitoring, wherever and whenever is needed, helping to prevent and minimize product losses in storage and in transport. And the bottom line: reducing spillage costs considerably.

 

QUALITY AND SAFETY CHALLENGES IN BULK COMMODITY STORAGE

One of the major challenges in bulk storage is quality and safety control; if not stored at the proper environmental conditions, the product may be subject to disastrous effects like e.g. rot, moulds, diseases or self-combustion. If products are not properly monitored, uncontrolled temperature and moisture values can cause moulds and bacteria to develop. Self-combustion can lead to product deterioration, fire damages and even environmental disasters, leading to enormous costs. Not only helps Sensite Solutions for Bulk preserving your product quality, it also decreases the costs of insurance premiums.
Since its introduction, SafeHost has proven its value in a wide variety of markets, from condition monitoring of perishable goods during transport to security applications, and from bulk commodities monitoring to supply chain asset management.

I. SENSITE'S MONITORING SOLUTION

Heart of the SafeHost Bulk Monitoring solution is Sensite’s redundant, cloud-based Web server. Various types of sensors wirelessly transmit their information to the SafeHost server. On a tailor-made website, SafeHost provides insight in all measured values (like temperature, humidity, gas composition, open/close of tailgates or loading doors, etc).
Our system seamlessly interfaces with existing communication infrastructures like 3G/4G, BlueTooth, TCP/IP, WiFi and LoRa.

II. WHAT SENSORS TELL IN TRANSPORT AND STORAGEsafehost-realtime-bulk-monitoring

Sensite Solutions combines different monitoring parameters to ensure optimum storage conditions, depending on the commodity under care.
To this end, Sensite Solutions offers a wide variety of wireless sensors:

Temperature and humidity; the most frequently used measuring techniques for condition monitoring of perishable goods.

  • Gas measurements of combustion-related gas emissions like CO, CH4, and NOx provide a good insight in the development of self-heating and self-combustion.
  • CO2 measurements in inter-granular air can detect low-level grain spoilage caused by moulds, mites, and insects before serious grain damage occurs.
  • O2 sensors help monitoring the depletion of oxygen in modern-day fumigation techniques. Generally, the oxygen is depleted to around 1%, and temperature and humidity are increased for several days in order to increase activity and death rate of insects in the product that is treated.
All sensors are available in various appearances, to optimise monitoring in the different circumstances (e.g. tubes, probes in various sorts, etc).

III. SAFE BULK STORAGE CONDITIONS

SafeHost helps to safeguard the bulk under your care bysensite-safety-graph-for-grain monitoring various parameters, setting boundaries depending on the product. For example, research has shown that temperature and moisture go hand-in-hand when product condition is concerned. Certain combinations of product temperature and moisture content can affect the storability of goods. Insects, moulds, mites and self-ignition are responsible for 5 to even 40% of post-harvest losses.

 

Therefore, monitoring the favourable boundaries for each commodity is of utmost importance. Each threat has its own favourable environmental conditions as to temperature and moisture. Combining these conditions for the most significant threats gives the relevant information on the optimimum storage conditions.
Sensite has indicated the safe temperature / moisture content (MC) area for specific commodities. SafeHost informs continuously on the actual circumstances. Alarms are generated when product circumstances are moving towards the unsafe zone.

 

As an example, the Safety Graph for grain shows the safe area and risky areas for grains during storage. Conditions for insects and mites generally determine the boundaries. Furthermore, the metabolism of insects and mites lead to higher temperatures and MC, leading the product into even more dangerous areas.

 

The boundaries will vary for different commodities, some products will have less or no susceptibility to some threats. The SafeHost web application automates the specific boundaries for each commodity.

V. BULK MONITORING SOLUTIONS

Basically, every storage situation calls for its dedicated optimal solution and the implementation depends on:
  • Product structure
  • Loading and unloading situation
  • Infrastructural facilities
  • Storage characteristics
  • Ventilation

Product structure

The choice for an optimal monitoring solution is influenced by product structure. If the product has a very open structure, like e.g. cocoa, cotton or coffee, it is possible to place sensors in the product. The radio signal of the sensors travels through the product and retains sufficient energy for the readers to be picked up.

For dense products, like e.g. barley, this is not the case. Therefore, Sensite Solutions offers a wide range of sensor types, for a wide variety of applications. The most commonly used appearances are shown below.

Loading and unloading situation

Due to the enormous quantities of product to be processed and stored, the sheer mechanical forces in the product during handling, particularly (un-)loading, requires our system to be extremely robust. Where e.g. conveyor belts are used for automatic (un-)loading, the forces imposed on the product and, hence, mechanical structures of the monitoring solution can be extremely high. This calls for careful considerations when setting up the monitoring solution. If, for instance, a scraper system is used to flatten out the heap at the top of the storage, it is often not possible to use temperature probes as these will be hit and damaged by the scraper.

Infrastructural facilities

The wireless, dynamic, modular architecture of SafeHost enables flexible installation and re-installation of monitoring of any size, at any location in the world, as often as required. Herewith, also meeting the demands for unmanned storage facilities, boats, and warehouses, even without IT-infrastructure. Sensite's redundant and cloud based web application SafeHost connects to the Internet via GPRS, turning it into the flexible monitoring solution that professional bulk storage companies require.

V. STORAGE CHARACTERISTICS

Depending on storage characteristics, there are several methods we offer to monitor the bulk and/or its environment:

 

Monitoring and Safeguarding with Sensors

 

In-product measurements

In this method, sensors are placed in the product. The sensors transmit their measurements at regular intervals to readers in the vicinity of the product. This allows measurements at every desired depth, with a sensor density of choice. This method is suitable for products with a relatively open structure, like cocoa, cotton, and coffee. In-product measurements are also particularly suited for measurements in (big-) bag storage. Generally, the sensors are reclaimed when the product is prepared for transportation.

Measuring along the heap

This method is flexible as the concentration of measuring probes can be varied with the need for measuring accuracy: measuring trends in e.g. the temperature in the higher layers along the heap provides information on possible combustion in the product. To that end, wireless temperature probes with 2 or 3 sensors, generally 2 or 3 meters long, or even longer if required, are used to measure along the surface on the heap.

Fixed product measuring

If the storage facility allows for the installation of a more permanent measurement system, sensor tubes, made of flexible armed hose are used to house a multitude of sensors. Again, the measured data is relayed wirelessly to a central computing facility. This measuring method features a high density of sensors through the complete product.

Environmental measurements

For situations where the sensors cannot be placed directly in the products, as is the case with products in closed bags (e.g. cocoa or coffee), measurements by sensors can be carried out in the direct vicinity of the stored bags.
In short, there is a wide variety of circumstances and product characteristics that determine the optimal monitoring solution. With over 15 years of experience, Sensite is able to tailor-made solutions and situation of each storage facility. Once the design has been optimized for the situation at hand, the system is plug-and-play. After the readers have been installed at the suggested positions, and the sensors have been placed in the product, the system is ready to use immediately.

Ventilation

Development of self-heating and self-combustion can be detected by measuring gas emissions (e.g. CO, CH4, and NOx) above the heap. Where warehouses are ventilated, gas measurings above the heap can present a challenge. When there is forced ventilation, sensors can be installed inside the ventilation tubes for measuring gas compositions of the outgoing air.

VI. SENSITE SAFEHOST

SafeHost is Sensite’s hosted Cloud server infrastructure that collects, analyses and visualizes all measurement data from Sensite's wireless sensor network. All data is stored in its database for historical information and for use in trend graphs and reports. The website also displays all equipment and their current and historical measurements. SafeHost is completely customized to the requirements of the customer. At a glance, customers are able view the conditions of the bulk, as well as the status of the equipment.

Reports, Alarms and Exportscarbon-dioxide-monitoring

Thresholds for measurement data, e.g. temperatures, open/close, can be set via the SafeHost website. If thresholds are exceeded, alarms can be sent by e-mail or SMS to a configurable list of recipients. In addition, regular reporting at any desired interval can be set, allowing a configurable list of recipients to receive measurement reports in PDF format via e-mail. Historical measurements data can be retrieved, upon demand, in graphical or numerical form. Export for direct use in e.g. Excel is supported as well.

Customising roles

SafeHost supports roles and associated priviliges in a very flexible manner. Examples of roles include Administrator, Operator, Customer.
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SafeHost provides a rich set of calculation engines to translate measurements data into domain-specific information:
  • Analysis of basic values into business parameters, e.g.:
    - Temperature and Relative Humidity to Absolute Humidity and Humidity Deficit
    - Temperature and Relative Humidity to Moisture Content
  • First-glance problem indication & alarming
  • Continuous network integrity monitoring
    - Signal strength
    - Noise
    - Time since last reception
    - Battery status

If you have any questions or want to receive more information about Sensite’s SafeHost Bulk Monitoring Solution, please do not hesitate to contact us at: contact@sensite-solutions.com