Sensors Help Quantum Tubers Speed Potato Growth

Among the thousands of varieties of potatoes, certain ones are prized for their ability to make specific products like potato chips or French fries. When a new breed is developed for specific characteristics, it can easily take five to seven years to generate enough seed to support commercial demand. Turck BL67 I/O system controls solenoid valves for CO2, humidity, and adding liquids used in the spray system.

07/01/2009


The process requires careful monitoring, both from technicians and precise instrumentation.  Source: Turck

The process requires careful monitoring, both from technicians and precise instrumentation. Source: Turck
The process requires careful monitoring, both from technicians and precise instrumentation.  Source: Turck

Among the thousands of varieties of potatoes, certain ones are prized for their ability to make specific products like potato chips or French fries. When a new breed is developed for specific characteristics, it can easily take five to seven years to generate enough seed to support commercial demand.

Thanks to Quantum Tubers in Delavan, WI, the development cycle has become much faster. Using technology developed with NASA and the University of Wisconsin's Plant Pathology Department, the group has developed methods to produce viable minitubers as a pathogen-free seed source year round in an intensive culture of high-density sterile stem-cuttings in a soilless media. The Quantum Tubers technology is designed for industrial capacity in large-scale commercial production using a proprietary system of biomanufacturing.

The use of minitubers is not new to the potato industry; however, minitubers have traditionally been very expensive to produce in quantities for commercial demand. Quantum Tubers developed its own proprietary automated propagation system to produce pathogen-free, nuclear stock minitubers. In this system, minitubers are harvested in 40 to 50 days depending upon variety and size requirements, making it possible to harvest up to nine crops per year.

“It normally takes up to 160 days to grow a potato plant. We can now do this in as little as 50 days,” says Bob Britt, president and CEO of Quantum Tubers. But such accelerated growth requires extremely precise conditions. Factors like humidity, light, temperature, and length of the day all have to be controlled. Britt had been using a flow sensor to detect the amount of liquid nutrients being applied, but it failed to provide the needed data accuracy.

After consulting with Turck representative Larry Jacob of Mtech Wisconsin, Britt learned that Turck's digital read out (DRO) flow sensor could monitor the liquid nutrients more accurately than the technology already installed. Britt also discovered how other Turck products could help improve the processes. Additional applications included a modular BL67 remote I/O system, with analog input modules for humidity, temperature, light, CO 2 , and flow sensors. The BL67 output modules control solenoid valves for CO2, humidity, and adding liquids used in the spray system.

The system also controls light banks, circulating fans, and the cooling circuit. With most devices carrying an IP 67 rating, there's now no problem being in a washdown environment. “Before using Turck products, we had a series of breakers in a panel chock-full of electrical equipment, and electrical fires were not uncommon because of wet conditions,” adds Britt. “Unlike BL67, the system we had before was difficult to work with and almost impossible to make any changes. Implementing this system saved us six months of hands-on time putting the system into a big box. The best part is that it can easily be put into the hands of a third party for installation elsewhere in the world, and they will be able to implement it quite easily.”

This factor is particularly useful in countries that have no seed potato producers and are forced to import potato seed that may contain disease. In these situations, a country could use a Quantum Tubers' commercial biomanufacturing system to produce a potato variety locally that's tailored to its particular growing region and free of pathogens.

“Without the personalized help that Larry Jacob and his Mtech Wisconsin and Turck team provided, we would have lost countless hours of development time—and we would not have the bullet-proof, customized controls system that we enjoy on our technology today,” says Britt.


Author Information
Mark DiSera is Turck RFID product marketing manager. Reach him at Mark.DiSera@turck.com .




Engineers' Choice Awards
The Engineers' Choice Awards highlight some of the best new control, instrumentation and automation products as chosen by Control Engineering subscribers.
System Integrator Giants
The System Integrator Giants program lists the top 100 system integrators among companies listed in CFE Media's Global System Integrator Database.
System Integrator of the Year
Each year, a panel of Control Engineering and Plant Engineering editors and industry expert judges select the System Integrator of the Year Award winners in three categories.
Design of Safe and Reliable Hydraulic Systems for Subsea Applications
This eGuide explains how the operation of hydraulic systems for subsea applications requires the user to consider additional aspects because of the unique conditions that apply to the setting
How to Maximize Factory Automation Efficiency with Low Cost Machine Vision
This eGuide illustrates solutions, applications and benefits of machine vision systems.
Wireless Reliability in Harsh Environments
Learn how to increase device reliability in harsh environments and decrease unplanned system downtime.
September 2018
Optimize controls via cloud software, ladder logic simulation, industrial wireless best practices
August 2018
Augmented reality and virtual reality education, autotuning PID control, cybersecurity advice, educating engineers
July 2018
Ladder logic best practices and object-oriented programming, safety instrumented systems, enclosure design issues and challenges, process control advice
Edge Computing
This article collection contains several articles on how today's technologies heap benefits onto an edge-computing architecture such as faster computing, better networking, more memory, smarter analytics, cloud-based intelligence, and lower costs.
Data Center Design
Data centers, data closets, edge and cloud computing, co-location facilities, and similar topics are among the fastest-changing in the industry.
PLCs
Programmable logic controllers (PLCs) represent the logic (decision) part of the control loop of sense, decide, and actuate. Featured articles in this digital report compare PLCs and programmable automation controllers (PACs), industrial PCs, and robotic controllers.
SIDB

Find and connect with the most suitable service provider for your unique application. Start searching the Global System Integrator Database Now!

August 2018
SCADA standardization, capital expenditures, data-driven drilling and execution
June 2018
Machine learning, produced water benefits, progressive cavity pumps
April 2018
ROVs, rigs, and the real time; wellsite valve manifolds; AI on a chip; analytics use for pipelines
John O. Ayuk, PE, CFSE, PMP, CAP
Automation Engineer; Wood Group
Doug Baker
System Integrator; Cross Integrated Systems Group
Jose S. Vasquez, Jr.
Jose S. Vasquez, Jr.
Fire & Life Safety Engineer; Technip USA Inc.
Data Centers: Impacts of Climate and Cooling Technology
This course focuses on climate analysis, appropriateness of cooling system selection, and combining cooling systems.
Safety First: Arc Flash 101
This course will help identify and reveal electrical hazards and identify the solutions to implementing and maintaining a safe work environment.
Critical Power: Hospital Electrical Systems
This course explains how maintaining power and communication systems through emergency power-generation systems is critical.
Engineers' Choice Awards
The Engineers' Choice Awards highlight some of the best new control, instrumentation and automation products as chosen by Control Engineering subscribers.
System Integrator Giants
The System Integrator Giants program lists the top 100 system integrators among companies listed in CFE Media's Global System Integrator Database.
System Integrator of the Year
Each year, a panel of Control Engineering and Plant Engineering editors and industry expert judges select the System Integrator of the Year Award winners in three categories.
Design of Safe and Reliable Hydraulic Systems for Subsea Applications
This eGuide explains how the operation of hydraulic systems for subsea applications requires the user to consider additional aspects because of the unique conditions that apply to the setting
How to Maximize Factory Automation Efficiency with Low Cost Machine Vision
This eGuide illustrates solutions, applications and benefits of machine vision systems.
Wireless Reliability in Harsh Environments
Learn how to increase device reliability in harsh environments and decrease unplanned system downtime.
September 2018
Optimize controls via cloud software, ladder logic simulation, industrial wireless best practices
August 2018
Augmented reality and virtual reality education, autotuning PID control, cybersecurity advice, educating engineers
July 2018
Ladder logic best practices and object-oriented programming, safety instrumented systems, enclosure design issues and challenges, process control advice
Edge Computing
This article collection contains several articles on how today's technologies heap benefits onto an edge-computing architecture such as faster computing, better networking, more memory, smarter analytics, cloud-based intelligence, and lower costs.
Data Center Design
Data centers, data closets, edge and cloud computing, co-location facilities, and similar topics are among the fastest-changing in the industry.
PLCs
Programmable logic controllers (PLCs) represent the logic (decision) part of the control loop of sense, decide, and actuate. Featured articles in this digital report compare PLCs and programmable automation controllers (PACs), industrial PCs, and robotic controllers.
SIDB

Find and connect with the most suitable service provider for your unique application. Start searching the Global System Integrator Database Now!

August 2018
SCADA standardization, capital expenditures, data-driven drilling and execution
June 2018
Machine learning, produced water benefits, progressive cavity pumps
April 2018
ROVs, rigs, and the real time; wellsite valve manifolds; AI on a chip; analytics use for pipelines
John O. Ayuk, PE, CFSE, PMP, CAP
Automation Engineer; Wood Group
Doug Baker
System Integrator; Cross Integrated Systems Group
Jose S. Vasquez, Jr.
Jose S. Vasquez, Jr.
Fire & Life Safety Engineer; Technip USA Inc.
Data Centers: Impacts of Climate and Cooling Technology
This course focuses on climate analysis, appropriateness of cooling system selection, and combining cooling systems.
Safety First: Arc Flash 101
This course will help identify and reveal electrical hazards and identify the solutions to implementing and maintaining a safe work environment.
Critical Power: Hospital Electrical Systems
This course explains how maintaining power and communication systems through emergency power-generation systems is critical.
Engineers' Choice Awards
The Engineers' Choice Awards highlight some of the best new control, instrumentation and automation products as chosen by Control Engineering subscribers.
System Integrator Giants
The System Integrator Giants program lists the top 100 system integrators among companies listed in CFE Media's Global System Integrator Database.
System Integrator of the Year
Each year, a panel of Control Engineering and Plant Engineering editors and industry expert judges select the System Integrator of the Year Award winners in three categories.
Design of Safe and Reliable Hydraulic Systems for Subsea Applications
This eGuide explains how the operation of hydraulic systems for subsea applications requires the user to consider additional aspects because of the unique conditions that apply to the setting
How to Maximize Factory Automation Efficiency with Low Cost Machine Vision
This eGuide illustrates solutions, applications and benefits of machine vision systems.
Wireless Reliability in Harsh Environments
Learn how to increase device reliability in harsh environments and decrease unplanned system downtime.
September 2018
Optimize controls via cloud software, ladder logic simulation, industrial wireless best practices
August 2018
Augmented reality and virtual reality education, autotuning PID control, cybersecurity advice, educating engineers
July 2018
Ladder logic best practices and object-oriented programming, safety instrumented systems, enclosure design issues and challenges, process control advice
Edge Computing
This article collection contains several articles on how today's technologies heap benefits onto an edge-computing architecture such as faster computing, better networking, more memory, smarter analytics, cloud-based intelligence, and lower costs.
Data Center Design
Data centers, data closets, edge and cloud computing, co-location facilities, and similar topics are among the fastest-changing in the industry.
PLCs
Programmable logic controllers (PLCs) represent the logic (decision) part of the control loop of sense, decide, and actuate. Featured articles in this digital report compare PLCs and programmable automation controllers (PACs), industrial PCs, and robotic controllers.
SIDB

Find and connect with the most suitable service provider for your unique application. Start searching the Global System Integrator Database Now!

August 2018
SCADA standardization, capital expenditures, data-driven drilling and execution
June 2018
Machine learning, produced water benefits, progressive cavity pumps
April 2018
ROVs, rigs, and the real time; wellsite valve manifolds; AI on a chip; analytics use for pipelines
John O. Ayuk, PE, CFSE, PMP, CAP
Automation Engineer; Wood Group
Doug Baker
System Integrator; Cross Integrated Systems Group
Jose S. Vasquez, Jr.
Jose S. Vasquez, Jr.
Fire & Life Safety Engineer; Technip USA Inc.
Data Centers: Impacts of Climate and Cooling Technology
This course focuses on climate analysis, appropriateness of cooling system selection, and combining cooling systems.
Safety First: Arc Flash 101
This course will help identify and reveal electrical hazards and identify the solutions to implementing and maintaining a safe work environment.
Critical Power: Hospital Electrical Systems
This course explains how maintaining power and communication systems through emergency power-generation systems is critical.
click me