Industrial Compact PC Streamlines Data Collection and Provides Remote Monitoring For Farming Industry
Failing to collect data on the farm can lead to a myriad of issues that hinder the overall productivity and efficiency of agricultural operations. Without data collection, farmers are deprived of crucial insights into their crops, livestock, and environmental conditions. This absence of information makes it challenging to make informed decisions regarding irrigation, fertilisation, pest control, and other vital aspects of farming.
Furthermore, the lack of data prevents the identification of trends and patterns, making it difficult to optimise yield, reduce waste, and manage resources effectively. The absence of data-driven analysis also hampers the ability to detect and address potential problems early on, such as disease outbreaks or equipment malfunctions.
Ultimately, the failure to collect data on the farm significantly limits the potential for improvement, innovation, and sustainable farming practices. The use of automation, IIoT devices, data analytics, artificial intelligence, and other innovative technologies can be used to optimise agricultural processes and improve overall productivity and sustainability.
Leveraging IIoT For Smart Farming
Leveraging IIoT (Industrial Internet of Things) in smart farming enables advanced capabilities and improved efficiency in agricultural practices. By integrating an Industrial PC with IIoT devices, sensors, and data analytics, smart farming systems can monitor and control various aspects of farming operations. This includes real-time monitoring of environmental conditions such as temperature, humidity, soil moisture, and crop health. IIoT is revolutionising smart farming and is enabling farmers to make decisions based on data, optimising resource usage and automating processes. This leads to increased crop yield and reduced waste and environmental impact.
There are various types of sensor inputs commonly used in smart farming. The specific sensor types implemented may vary depending on the specific crop, farming techniques, and objectives of the smart farming system. These are just a few examples of sensor inputs utilised in smart farming.
Soil Moisture Sensors: Devices detect water levels in the ground. This enables farmers to give their crops the right amount of water. It prevents over-hydrating or under-hydrating.
Temperature and Humidity Sensors: Sensors monitor ambient temperature and humidity. This provides important information on the environment’s impact on plant growth and the risk of disease.
Light Sensors: Light sensors help measure the light received by plants. This helps to manage the light effectively for photosynthesis and optimal growth.
Weather Sensors: Weather sensors collect data on rainfall, wind speed, solar radiation, and other meteorological factors. This information assists in predicting weather patterns, optimising irrigation schedules, and implementing preventive measures during extreme weather events.
pH Sensors: pH sensors measure the acidity or alkalinity of the soil. This is essential for determining suitable soil conditions for particular crops. If needed, soil pH can be adjusted.
Nutrient Sensors: These sensors monitor the levels of various nutrients, such as nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium, in the soil. This data helps farmers apply precise fertiliser dosages and maintain optimal nutrient levels for plant growth.
Crop Health Sensors: Sensors capable of detecting plant diseases, pests, and abnormalities. Providing early warning signs and enabling timely intervention to reduce crop damage.
Gas Sensors: Gas sensors can detect harmful gases, such as carbon dioxide (CO2) or ammonia (NH3), in agricultural environments. Monitoring these gases helps ensure the safety of livestock and workers.
Collecting Data and Monitoring Remotely with Edge Computing
An IIoT (Industrial Internet of Things) gateway serves as a critical component in the infrastructure of an industrial environment such as the farming industry. It acts as a bridge between the local operational technology (OT) devices and the broader Internet of Things (IoT) ecosystem.
An IIoT gateway is used to collect data from connected OT devices, in this case the various farming sensors used for collecting data. This data is then aggregated and transmitted to cloud platforms or other centralised systems. The purpose of this is to enable further analysis and decision-making.
Acting as a data intermediary, the IIoT gateway facilitates communication between sensor and cloud. Additionally, it acquires, translates, processes and secures data. Here are some key functions and capabilities of an IIoT gateway:
Data Acquisition: IIoT gateways are equipped with a variety of interfaces and protocols. This allows them to connect to a broad range of operational technology (OT) devices. Examples of OT devices include sensors, controllers, machines, and other industrial equipment. They collect data from these devices, including real-time sensor readings, machine statuses, production metrics, and environmental conditions.
Protocol Translation and Integration: OT devices often use proprietary protocols or legacy communication standards. The IIoT gateway acts as a translator. It converts various protocols into a standardised format. This helps to ensure seamless integration and interoperability between diverse devices and systems. This allows data from heterogeneous sources to be unified and transmitted efficiently.
Edge Computing: IIoT gateways typically have computational power and storage capabilities, enabling them to perform edge computing tasks. Edge computing involves processing and analyzing data at the edge of the network, closer to the data source, rather than sending it all to the cloud. This reduces latency, enhances real-time decision-making, and minimises data transmission costs. Most Industrial PCs can serve as an edge computer as they’re built for these types of harsh environments.
Security and Data Management: IIoT gateways play a crucial role in ensuring the security and integrity of data. They often incorporate security features such as encryption, authentication, access control, and data filtering. Security measures can be applied at the gateway level. This helps to mitigate potential threats and vulnerabilities. Data is then transmitted to the cloud or other external systems.
Local Control and Automation: Some IIoT gateways have the ability to execute local control and automation tasks. They can act as a local processing unit, implementing predefined rules or logic based on the collected data. This allows for rapid response to critical events or conditions, reducing reliance on cloud connectivity and enhancing overall system reliability.
Combatting Harsh Environments Found Agriculture Applications
In the field of agriculture, there are several harsh environments that can pose risks and damage technology. It is crucial for farmers to employ protective measures, such as proper enclosures, sealing, and regular maintenance, to safeguard their technology investments from these harsh agricultural environments. Here are some key features to look for in an industrial mini PC:
Dusty Environments: Dust, dirt, and debris present in agricultural environments can have a massive impact on technology. Fine particles can accumulate in equipment, clog vents, and affect performance. Fanless technology should be utilised to minimise any dust ingress.
Extreme Temperatures: Extreme temperatures swinging from hot to cold can pose a major problem. Excessive heat can cause overheating, which would effectively shut down the PC during operation. Extreme cold can lead to freezing, condensation, and damage to delicate parts. This could prevent the PC from booting or shut down during operation. All components integrated onboard the industrial compact PC should be industrial-grade with wide operating temperature to remove any point of failure.
Shock & Vibration: Vibrations and mechanical stress from heavy machinery or rough terrains can lead to physical damage, dislodging of components, and connection failures. A solid state design removing any fans or spinning disks is the first step in preventing failures due to shock and vibration. Furthermore, dampening plates can be used to mount the PC and minimise vibrational transfer from the heavy machinery.
Gathering Data With The Neu-X101-6C-DC Industrial Compact PC
The Neu-X101-6C-DC is a fanless industrial compact PC designed by NEXCOM. Configured as an IIoT gateway, the Neu-X101-6C-DC is ideal for smart farming applications and offers a robust and efficient solution for collecting sensor data in agricultural environments.
Powered by the onboard Intel Celeron J3455 CPU, this compact PC provides reliable processing power to handle the demands of data-intensive farming operations. It can be configured with up to 8GB of DDR3L industrial-grade memory and 2TB SSD via the onboard M.2 2242 M-Key expansion.
With support for 6 serial ports, it enables seamless integration with a variety of sensors, allowing for comprehensive data collection and analysis across multiple aspects of the farm. The dual HDMI display outputs provide the capability to visualise aggregated data, enabling farmers to monitor and analyse information in real-time.
The PC’s wide range of 9~24V DC power supply support ensures compatibility with different power sources commonly found in agricultural settings, providing flexibility and ease of installation.
Furthermore, the Neu-X101-6C-DC ultra-compact fanless design allows for installation in tight spaces, making it suitable for deployment in areas where space is limited. Additionally, the PC’s wide temperature support ensures reliable performance in varying environmental conditions commonly encountered in farming, including temperature fluctuations and exposure to harsh elements.
Overall, this industrial compact PC offers an efficient, versatile, and rugged solution for collecting sensor data in smart farming, empowering farmers with the insights needed for informed decision-making and optimised agricultural practices.