11 months ago



The digitalization of

The digitalization of sugar beet The quota for sugar beet is reducing in the European Union. The EU used this quota to determine a production volume allocated to individual companies, and in turn to sugar beet farmers. A fixed price was guaranteed for this quota. In case of overproduction, it had been possible to export up to an upper limit which was defined by the WTO due to import restrictions. However, a drop of the quota does not mean the complete opening up of the European market, as certain import duties still remain. Nevertheless, many people are speaking of a new era, and most view themselves as being well-equipped for new, international competition. The company ROPA contributes towards this readiness with their sugar beet harvesters, which increase the competitiveness of their users thanks to digitalization. Today, digitalization is a topical issue. Whether politicians are talking about the Internet of Things, managers in DAX companies about Industrie 4.0 or ordinary people about their smartphone and their connected fitness watches – everyone knows what this is about. Or not? Digitalization is the basis for all these services. No computer or control unit can undertake calculations without the existence of measurement parameters for machines, processes or people in digital form. Without communication – wired or wireless – data cannot be collected and transferred. And without the correspondingly scalable server architectures, it is impossible to manage the ever-increasing data volumes. Essential here is the correct software to make this data volume manageable, to provide this data in a comprehensible manner or to prepare the data correctly for a process. Even if all prerequisites are fulfilled, one last hurdle remains: very different systems from multiple manufacturers and with diverse focal points have to work together seamlessly. communication with the R-Connect server. Both, mobile telecommunications and a WiFi connection to a router can be used for data transmission, which then forwards the data on via an IP connection to the R-Connect server. As a result, the TC3G becomes the data management hub of the machine. One task of the R-Connect server is to depict and comprehensibly document all essential machine conditions in real-time during harvesting. Valuable information regarding potential, hidden faults can be analysed here and used for predictive maintenance. This comprehensive depiction of pressures, speeds, sensor and potentiometer values is unique as a basis for the assessment of the currently-operated machine settings in connection with the currently-depicted fuel consumption. As a result, professionals can provide remote support to new drivers with the machine settings. In a playback function, the harvest can be tracked in detail along a timeline with all trimming and lifting settings. The data can serve as a basis for future sowing and harvesting planning or for training driving personnel. The portal and the app Besides the fact that a Tiger Type 6 sugar beet harvester with up to 768 PS, a length of 15 m and a height of 4m is an impressive machine, the task of harvesting beet appears relatively simple. However, a great deal of knowledge is involved, and an exact understanding of the work process, which can only be sensed when observing the machine in more detail. What is important is the fact that the harvesting process is not a standalone process. Beet harvesters are integrated into a complex logistics and order management chain. Today, these run, almost without exception, via the logistics portal “farmpilot”. In simple terms, farmpilot is an order management and navigation system for groups in which many participants are integrated. Furthermore, additional functions exist such as the digital document entry or the storage of working times. The provider is Arvato Systems, a subsidiary of the Bertelsmann Group, which has over the past years adapted farmpilot to the requirements of the The machine and its data MOTION AND DRIVES For many years, ROPA has addressed these challenges, and created the basis for digital services at an early stage through the automation of their machines. Machine data is recorded by sensors, converted into electrical signals, processed by control units and displayed on the ROPA terminal. Reciprocally, commands are sent to the control units via the terminal and joysticks, which together with the current sensor data, are linked to corresponding commands for actuators on the machine. In addition, a small telematics unit by Sensor-Technik Wiedemann (STW), the TC3G, acts as a datalogger, as a programmable data pre-processing unit and as a gateway to the R(OPA)-Connect server. The free programmability of the TC3G has been used here to implement a secure, data-saving protocol for Author: Hans Wiedemann, Manager Marketingat at STW 30 WORLD OF INDUSTRIES 1/2018

01 TC3G – the data management hub in the Tiger sugar industry. farmpilot can be used without problems in almost all areas of cross-company work. An app is also included in the farmpilot portal; an application which operates on a tablet PC. All data is compared between the farmpilot portal and the farmpilot app on the tablet PC prior to commencing a harvesting order. The order data is created in advance by the farmer, dispatcher and the sugar refinery, and supplemented with external orders. Linking worlds The harvester driver starts an assignment in the farmpilot app. The app automatically transfers the assignment-relevant data to the ROPA terminal via WiFi, in which a new harvesting assignment is also simultaneously started. As soon as the harvester driver ends the current assignment in the farmpilot app, the assignment is automatically completed in the ROPA terminal. All invoice-relevant data for the completed assignment (harvested area, output, consumption, empty run ratio, harvesting speed) are transferred via the TC3G to the R-Connect server, and from there onto farmpilot. This path is selected because only in this way can both the assignment scope data and the associated telemetry data be unambiguously merged. In this way only one source exists for correct invoicing. An error source is excluded as the data transmission occurs automatically, without the intervention of any people. Simultaneously, this also means increased safety for the driver and the environment of the machine, because there are no longer any distractions. Furthermore, the necessity for separate systems for different sugar refineries becomes obsolete through this solution, allowing the companies to save on investment costs. Thanks to the use of modern technology, significant time-savings are achieved in the planning, coordination and execution of the beet harvest, and for subsequent hire and loading logistics. The farmers, contractors and refineries therefore find themselves well-equipped for international competition thanks to increased efficiency and increased costeffectiveness. Farming 4.0 has thus become reality. Future additional benefits through digitalization There is certainly immense potential for increased efficiency through the improvement of the logistics and processes concerning sugar beet harvesting. Savings can also be achieved through a reduction of the standstill times of the machines. Of course, all those involved in the process chain want the operation to run as continuously and fault-free as possible, because standstill time inevitably leads to re-planning. As a result of the hard demands in the field, no maintenance-free beet harvester is available on the market yet. However, without maintenance, faults and therefore failures are certain to occur. The objective is to eliminate these faults as rapidly as possible. An even better approach is not to allow faults to occur at all. ‘Condition Monitoring’ can be used for this purpose with the assistance of the R-Connect server. Wear and maintenance criteria can be derived from the measurement values of an individual machine. As a result, the area counter can be continuously monitored, can trigger the re-sharpening of the scalper blades on reaching a set value, and can reserve an appropriate time slot for the execution of replacement work. Failures can be avoided in advance, i.e. preventatively, using this method. This is designated as ‘Predictive Maintenance’. If this is developed further, then the algorithms used to recognise faults can also be implemented on the machine. The freely-programmable TC3G by STW, on which all data is merged, is also the right platform for this purpose. As a result, large volumes of data become smart data, and the transmitted data volume can be further reduced. Software updates also fall under the topic of maintenance. For this purpose, the plan is to install new software packages on to the TC3G itself, on downstream control units and on the ROPA terminal via the R-Connect server and the TC3G. Security is always an important aspect of this process. Today, not only PCs are the target of hacker attacks, but also machine control units. Therefore, great attention should be paid to the appropriate secure software and protected accesses – in principle, a case of ‘Preventive Maintenance’. Photographs: lead and 02 ROPA, 01 STW 02 The driver has the assignment, process and machine data in view at all times on the ROPA terminal WORLD OF INDUSTRIES 1/2018 31


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