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Latest smart bigbag pilot for seed potatoes measures temperature fluctuations

April 22, 2021

With a new element, HZPC’s latest smart bigbag pilot aims to find out more about the condition of seed potatoes during transport.

Seed potatoes may spend weeks in transit before they arrive at their destinations all over the world, while the transport of these potatoes can involve transshipment between trucks, trains and boats. Equipping parts of the load with temperature-reading micro-sensors could help gain insights into the conditions during shipment. That is why HZPC’s latest smart bigbag pilot measures temperature fluctuations.

Smart label with temperature sensor

This pilot is a follow-up to a trial the company held last year with 80 smart bigbags, during which large packages were fitted with a label with a chip, which buyers could read out with their smartphones to access growing advice in their own language. As the trial was deemed successful, it was scaled up at the end of last year. For the current pilot, 100 of these bigbags were additionally fitted with a smart label containing a temperature sensor. As fluctuations in temperature can impact the quality of the potatoes once the lots are on their way, HZPC wants to know the conditions during transport, so that any complaints about the seed potatoes afterwards can be tracked and investigated.

More insights into transport conditions

For the purpose of measuring temperature fluctuations, Niels Postma from  integrated a micro-sensor, along with a near field communication (NFC) chip to read out temperatures, into the smart labels. ‘The smart labels used during the first trial, work without power supply’, explains Postma. ‘Only when you hold a smartphone against the magnetic field in the NFC chip, you can read out the information. In this new pilot, we take it one step further with an integrated micro-sensor. Minuscule printed batteries in the paper generate tiny power surges every now and then, and the temperature is checked and saved at a pre-set interval. The data generated can be visualised via a supporting platform. As a result, HZPC can check a digital map to see exactly where the bigbags with seed potatoes are located, read out temperature fluctuations, and check whether the client has accessed the growing advice with their smartphone’, Postma adds. The delivery of this pilot’s smart bigbags started in December and continues until April, after which the results will be evaluated. ‘We are investing in this pilot as we would like to share our expertise via growing advice and because we hope to gain more insights into transport conditions’, clarifies HZPC marketing specialist Hans Langedijk. ‘In this pilot we focus on temperature, but if this goes well we are also thinking about sensors that measure atmospheric humidity and CO2 in the future’, he adds. Postma calls this forecast ‘entirely feasible’.


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