The Illustrated Cloud: Horticultural DivisionOctober 22, 2018 No Comments
Featured article by Jörg Hecke, Product Manager, SEH Technology
What takes a nursery from greenhouse automation to Cloud and IIoT?
German plant breeders Helix Pflanzen GmbH, are famous throughout Europe for their vertical growing systems and cultivars of lavender and strawberries. The company outfitted its greenhouses a while back with industrial automation solutions from RAM. These “klimacomputers” rely on ventilation, temperature, humidity and light sensors to monitor and maintain the right growing conditions for a wide range of plants.
The klimacomputers can automatically adjust vents, sprinklers, lights and heat lamps. But until recently, each operated independently in each greenhouse. Staff could only monitor and make adjustments on software running on PCs running in each structure.
Helix wanted to bring the Cloud to bear on its operation, both to centralize administration, virtualize its admin computers, and aggregate data business-wide for better analysis. There was no way, however, they were going to sacrifice their investment in well-running greenhouse automation. They had to find a way to network systems produced in a pre-networked era with older, serial interfaces.
Helix found its answer in SEH Technology’s SU-302 serial-to-USB adapters and INU-100 USB-to-Ethernet device servers, installing the DIN-mountable devices in the control cabinets alongside the climate computers. Net result: All greenhouses can now be monitored and automation adjusted from company headquarters. (For more, see Before and After plant nursery diagrams. )
All SEH products, including the INU-100 USB Industrial USB Device Server and the SU-302 Serial-to-USB data converter, are developed and produced at the company’s headquarters in Bielefeld, Germany. U.S. headquarters are located in Phoenixville, PA, with offices across Europe, Asia and North America.
Before: RAM “Klimacomputers” use soil, light, and air sensors to measure and control humidity, acidity, light and ventilation for different growing requirements. Helix Pflanzen GmbH, a German specialty plant breeder with heavy investment in this pre-existing, serially-connected automation system, needed to operate and monitor each greenhouse separately and on site.
After: By installing serial-to-USB adapters and USB-to-Ethernet device servers from SEH Technology in their greenhouses’ industrial control cabinets, Helix Pflanzen GmbH plant breeders were able to turn these specialty computers into fully networked devices. Now they monitor and operate all their RAM greenhouse automation “klimacomputers” business-wide from central headquarters, and can aggregate data across their business for more accurate analysis.