GreenPeak Technologies and ZigBee: Harvesting Power In the Wireless Greenhouse of the Future

green house

The idea of growing crops or plants in an environmentally controlled area has existed since Roman times. Some of the early attempts required enormous amounts of work to exclude the elements – and even more work to provide adequate heat and security. Today, greenhouses are high technology production facilities growing crops managed by computer controlled systems. These systems provide screening installations, heating, cooling, lighting and harvesting management systems. Despite dramatic improvements, challenges still face today’s greenhouse owners: maximizing production efficiency, product quality, post-harvest operations and even reducing environmental footprint. To address these challenges, automation, robotics, precision agriculture, sensors and other advanced technologies are being planted today in the most modern greenhouses.

Hortimax, a leading provider of production and process automation solutions for professional greenhouse companies worldwide wanted to provide a client with the ultimate automated system. They called on Kronos, known around the world for their ability to empower organizations to effectively manage their workforce by
delivering software, hardware and services that enable them to reduce costs, increase productivity, and enhance the service provided. Kronos offers automation through a new ZigBee® wireless terminal from GreenPeak. The ZigBee terminal transmits data from greenhouse harvesting carts to routers, enabling the data to be gathered and analyzed in a central coordinator unit. This wireless technology allows the
monitoring of individual pickers’ efficiency whereas previously, only the average picking weight per corridor and not per picker was known. Use of the ZigBee wireless terminal has increased overall greenhouse productivity by 15%.

Kronos’ selected the GreenPeak/ZigBee wireless system because it is reliable, even in radio unfriendly environments. With its multi-hop, mesh technology, the ZigBee solution lets each wireless sensor and actuator device act as a repeater for other wireless devices even if one or more are blocked by metal, dense foliage or high humidity levels. This robustness is made possible because of ZigBee’s unique use
of mesh networking technology. The ZigBee sensor nodes form a mesh network by sending messages through intermediate nodes from various sources to the final destination. This approach enables the network to span larger distances (even when individual nodes can only see a local area of the network), allowing site-wide wireless coverage throughout the greenhouse.

The ability to track harvested areas, as well as how much has been picked enables greenhouse operators to quickly implement corrections in spraying, fertilizing and scheduling to maximize not only the amount of the harvest, but also the overall quality. The system also improves other greenhouse logistics such as scheduling of the packaging unit and just-in-time transportation to market. The result for the
greenhouse operator is better quality products through a more efficient harvest bringing about a reduction in both management time and expenses.

kronos green peak device

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