Agriculture 4.0 – The 5+2 factors that identify the agriculture 4.0 machines

19 January 2021

The fourth industrial revolution is in full swing and the concepts on which it is based are data connection, exchange and management, and remote control. Taking reference from the requirements defined in attachments A and B, annexed to the law dated 11 December 2016, n. 232 related to tax credit and applied to “Agriculture 4.0”, a declination of Industry 4.0 for agriculture, we can see the type of features an agricultural machine must have in order to be recognised as such.

What does attachment A have to say regarding Agriculture 4.0
The main point of attachment A regarding Agriculture 4.0 machines (it is not the only one) states “Capital goods whose operation is controlled by computerised systems or via suitable sensors and drives” with reference to the sub-group “machines, including driving and operating machines, tools and devices for loading and unloading, handling, weighing and automatic piece sorting, lifting devices and automated handling, AGV and flexible conveying and handling systems and/or equipped with piece recognition (for example RFID, visors and vision and mechatronic systems)”.

For the agricultural machine to meet the requirements set forth for Agriculture 4.0, the following requirements must therefore be fulfilled:

R1. Control via CNC (Computer Numerical Control) and/or PLC (Programmable Logic Controller) or equivalent solutions (e.g. micro controllers): reference is made to the fact that, in Agriculture 4.0 machines, control hardware of the system is implemented and supervised with drives having digital functions;

R2. Interconnection with the factory’s IT systems with remote loading of instructions and/or part program, which means the interconnection system that enables communication of the control system of point R1 with the remote system via appropriate protocols;

R3. Automated integration with the logistics system of the factory or with the supply network and/or other machines since the control and automated systems exchange data with a monitoring system (e.g. a PC with a data transmission and recording software) or with other machines involved. In order to comply with the definition of Agriculture 4.0, this process must be able to be managed via a remote interface (image A)

Image A

R4. Simple and intuitive man-machine interface that operators can access and interact with safely;

R5. Meeting the most recent standards with regard to safety, health and hygiene, which is related to the above point and refers to, for example, the construction standards provided for by the Machinery Directive and other relevant standards.

To which these two additional characteristics (there are five in all) are usually added:

RA. Remote maintenance and/or remote diagnosis and/or remote control systems for which there is a remote monitoring system both for functional checks but also to repair compromised machine functions;

RB. Continuous monitoring of the work conditions and process parameters via appropriate sets of sensors and process deviation activities, which is of fundamental importance since it is precisely the presence of the sensors that enables you to monitor the performance, presence of functional errors and malfunctions;

Image B: PRO-SEEDER – Counter and seed passage check sensors by MC elettronica

In actual fact, attachment A and B annexed to the law dated 11 December 2016, n. 232 contain additional options, which we can possibly discuss in a future article, but which we invite you to consult by finding it easily with a Google search.

Written by Dr. Agr. Mattia Trevini PhD – Agroingegno

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