IoT4Agri: Internet of things and Agrologistics
Sensors in refrigerated containers provide data about the conditions in the container during transport. Based on this, the quality of the fresh load can be controlled better through continuous optimization of the conditions.
As a transporter of agricultural and horticultural products, the shelf life of the products during the journey is a challenge.This applies even more from the moment that the load enters the refrigerated container, then it is no longer possible to check the load. The cooling keeps temperature changes limited and thus the ripening of the products. However, refrigeration is not the only factor that influences the ripening of products: for example, ripening bananas release the substance ethylene. This ensures a faster ripening of other products. For example, a pallet of ripening bananas can accelerate the ripening of the peppers on the pallet next to it.
So we want to be able to influence what happens in the refrigerated container during transport and this is made possible with sensors in the container. The sensors generate data about the conditions in the container during the journey, which can be read via a website. Based on this, the conditions in the container, or even specific parts thereof, can be influenced (manually or automatically) during the journey.
That’s how sensors with internet connection make it possible to measure and optimize the transport conditions. The possibilities and effects that this technology will offer in agro-logistics will be examined in the research Quality controlled logistics in IoT* enabled perishable supply chains.
(* Internet of things: all objects and devices linked to the Internet)
The installation of the sensors in the refrigerated containers requires technical knowledge and skill. Getting qualified workers on site is a challenge. Once the sensor systems are working, it will still be a challenge to actually take real-time actions based on the data read, such as choosing a different route, a different port of destination or an accelerated settlement in the port (shortening of the dwell time).
There are also many challenges in the development of applications of the technology. An example: How can seasonal effects be taken into account in the automated control of the climate in the container?
- Better control of the transport conditions can ensure that container transport by ship becomes an option for fresh products. These are still transported by air due to the speed.
- Making transport by ship an option can also mean that transport can become more cost-efficient.
- The technology makes it possible to make adjustments in the event of unforeseen circumstances (for example: extreme heat / cold that affects ripening) and disruptions (delays during the journey). This may mean that cargo can be saved that might otherwise be lost.
- As soon as the application of sensors in refrigerated containers and data-driven management of transport conditions works well, it will be examined where such technology can possibly also offer solutions in agro-logistics.
- Better control of the transport conditions ensures that an optimal quantity of the cargo reaches the final destination of the transport in optimal quality.
- Higher quality and less spoilage means a better yield for the product.
- The quality of the products that are delivered becomes more reliable, more constant.
Environmenta Monitoring Systems (EMS), Europool systems, Internethuis, NWO, PurFresh, Thermoking, TNO, Van Oers United, Wageningen Food and biobased research (Wageningen Universiteit).
Duration of the project
2020 – 2022