Manure Spreading Goes High-Tech with IIoT

  • August 10, 2021
  • News
Manure Spreading Goes High-Tech with IIoT
Manure Spreading Goes High-Tech with IIoT

Are you prepared for the future of agriculture?

One of the key challenges of this century is to find solutions on how we can ensure access to a sufficient supply of healthy, diverse, and safe food for a growing global population while limiting the impact on the environment and coping with climate change. Advancing sustainability and efficiency with IIoT innovation in today’s agriculture are a central part of the solution.

McKee Ag Solutions has spent 50 years making one of the most robust and durable manure, compost and fertilizer spreaders and serving the agricultural industry in Alberta, Canada. In 2020, Travis Jones, co-owner, decided it was time for digital transformation. “We wanted to provide our customers a remote diagnostic web portal that they could log in and see various functions of the machine,” said Jones.

Overview of manure spreader components and control system design for McKee Ag

McKee manure spreaders have a tandem hydraulic pump. One pump drives the beater system at the backend that spreads, or applies, the product onto the field. A hydraulically driven endgate, or tailgate, opens up to allow the product out the backend, and the system also has a hydraulically driven variable speed floor.

An essential function of the control system is to monitor the torque load on the beater. With the beater requiring the highest horsepower load, it is crucial to use a pressure control, essentially a torque control, to keep the entire operation under maximum load the drive line can handle.
Among the key functions TRS Systems developed for McKee Ag are auto endgate control, automatic floor control, constant rate functions, and alarms and diagnostics.

CODESYS for fast hardware integration and seamless cloud connectivity

All of the functions for McKee Ag’s control system were programmed using the CODESYS development environment. One of the beauties of this programming software, having been designed to the international industrial standard IEC 61131-3, is “you can program in any language you feel comfortable with,” said Steele. “It’s just so easy to use and to build your applications quickly.” Steele prefers structured text (ST) and CFC. “But even if you’re used to ladder logic and other languages, it’s just so simple to use.” The function blocks and libraries built over the years can be reused over multiple applications and save so much time.
All of the telematics data flows from the gateway to the cloud. “And also, the gateway provides GPS signal back to the truck and the truck control system over CAN bus,” Singh explained.

Using advanced UI techniques has never been easier, Using CODESYS Launched into Cloud in less than four weeks

The remote monitoring dashboard on Immercloud shows information such as how many devices there are, how many users, how many active sessions, and more, on the main login page. The main dashboard allows for remote troubleshooting and shows information such as floor pressure, beater pressure, floor speed, oil temperature, ECU voltage, and alarm information. The GPS, latitude, longitude, and speed data are sent to the dashboard.

This was the first stage of cloud integration for McKee Ag, and it took TRS Systems less than four weeks to complete.

Variable rate control: Mission accomplished!

Variable rate technology can reduce the amount of wasted product applied to the field. By using VRT, the goal is to detect information about the landscape and use it to make instant real-time decisions on product application.
For McKee Ag, variable rate control would help the manure spreaders vary the product application based on the field’s topography. So, for example, if there is a waterhole, the machine can control that spread width and change the rate variably accordingly.

The farmer, producer, or equipment owner can enter the drainage data in to the cloud. And the cloud interprets how the natural drainage works on the farm.

What made the entire project for McKee Ag seamless was CODESYS’ IoT libraries. Singh said it’s what has also allowed him to design custom IoT integration for other clients.
Read the full article here.

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