Evaluation of the Industry 4.0 Application for Better Farming

Howard, James Lee Michael
Singamneni, Sarat
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Master of Engineering
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Auckland University of Technology

Industry 4.0 is an emerging concept which involves optimizing production processes and increasing efficiency by taking advantage of wireless sensor networks in collaboration with cloud-based servers for monitoring systems. It focuses on the implementing Cyber Physical Systems to current production equipment and integrate them with ICT-based networks to provide resource and cost advantages compared to those same industries without these technologies. Being a relatively new way of optimizing production, there is a lot of space for improvement and development when implementing these concepts. Quite often, there are existing solutions which do apply I4.0, however they usually come with quite steep investment costs, and are difficult to implement into workplaces, dissuading those customers who could benefit from them. A large industry in New Zealand which has the potential to benefit from these technologies is farming and agriculture. Farmers need to monitor large farms, which comes at the cost of a lot of time. A system has been developed which sensors can be added to, allowing for farmers to monitor their farms from mobile devices, hence optimizing their workload. To test this system, an analog capacitive moisture sensor was added to the sensor nodes which measures the moisture content in soil throughout a farm and transmits it back to a base station (coordinator) which processes data and uploads it to a cloud server, allowing for remote farm monitoring. Using the wireless sensor network structure designed through this project, many sensor types can be added to these sensor nodes and provide the relevant data as required. These devices have been designed to transmit wireless data across long distances, as found in farms and have a lifespan of 5+ years, requiring extremely low upkeep. The solution has been made using low-cost equipment, meaning they are appealing to farmers in comparison to previous solutions. Due to these benefits, farmers would find these systems attractive and more likely to be applied.

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