Food production is a big contributor to climate change. It accounts for 26% of greenhouse gas emissions, takes up half the world’s habitable land, and is the cause of 78% of global ocean and freshwater pollution. Finding more sustainable options to produce food for a growing global population is important to slow global warming.
One of those alternatives is vertical farming. Growing certain plants indoors uses less water than traditional farming, has an increased crop yield, and reduced CO2 emissions. Usually built close to where the products will be delivered to, transportation routes become shorter as well.
However, with all its advantages, there are challenges to overcome in vertical farming. Growing plants inside requires accurate control of environmental factors such as temperature and humidity. Depending on location, some companies are faced with high rents and all share the extensive use of LEDs for light source and the associated high energy costs.
Precise control of HVAC and lighting is essential for growing the plants and minimising energy use, bringing costs down and making vertical farming even more sustainable.
HVAC Control & Monitoring Solutions
The Internet of Things (IoT) describes interconnected devices, sharing data and sending control signals between each other. It allows the automation of vertical farming processes and control of HVAC equipment and environmental factors such as humidity, temperature and lighting.
Programmable logic controllers (PLC) are ideal for automating processes. PLC software allows specifying to the smallest detail at which set points devices will turn on or off, raise alarms, or change status. If, for example, a temperature sensor reports that the air is getting too warm, cooling efforts will be increased according to the logic programmed into the software. Whether this occurs during the day or at night time, it doesn’t require staff interaction. Optimising the performance of HVAC and lighting equipment will reduce energy costs and ensure optimal conditions for the plants to grow.
Resource Data Management (RDM) offers a range of solutions to control and monitor the plants’ environment and keep energy costs low. The Intuitive range of HVAC controllers features devices that have RDM’s PLC software TDB built-in. With the ability to control over 600 points with one device, Intuitive controllers can manage a range of HVAC devices connected via the IoT.
RDM’s PLC software TDB is easy to programme, featuring the user-friendly object/logic block-based solution. License-free desktop editing software enables users to create custom control algorithms for any application. Highly flexible, it’s ideally suited to be used for applications where requirements differ as substantially as they do in vertical farming.
Control and monitoring system head-end DMTouch, enables users to manage all HVAC devices from one central platform. Energy management tools provide data and insights to improve operating efficiency, reducing energy costs and carbon footprint. DMTouch can monitor metered consumables such as water and electricity to provide consumption statistics, predict budgets, provide warnings and display trends.
A comprehensive control and monitoring solution enable vertical farmers to ensure product quality and optimised energy use.
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