Sensing to decisions ... Sense-T has the team to deliver impact to Industry research projects.

Current projects

Sense-T is the Academic Lead of the the Industry 4.0 TestLab: Integrity of Food, which is one of six TestLabs established as part of the Australian Government's National Industry 4.0 TestLab program and is co-funded by the Australian Government and the University of Tasmania. The University of Tasmania Industry 4.0 TestLab focuses on demystifying Industry 4.0 and de-risking the adoption of technology and data by small to medium enterprises throughout the food supply chain from farm to consumers.

This is achieved by co-designing demonstrations with Tasmanian businesses using the cutting edge Testlab equipment in predominantly industry settings to showcase the benefits of adopting Industry 4.0 approaches, practices and equipment.

Sense-T has been pivotal in the delivery of several component's of the University Of Tasmania's Industry 4.0 Testlab.

Sense-T Industry 4.0 Testlab Projects

Demystifying sensors and data for farmers

The Sense-T Mobile i4.0 Platforms project, involves advanced telemetry and sensor platforms which have been deployed at sites around Tasmania to collect micro-climate level data and operational sensor data from a range of devices over an extended period.

Data includes including weather data, soil data, IoT devices (gates closed/opened), pulse meters for measuring water / gas / electricity flows, location, and air quality, depending on the industry site requirements.

The Sense-T Mobile i4.0 Platforms are currently located in the Tamar Valley in Northern Tasmania ingesting a total of approximately 70,000 data points per day at the following businesses:

  • Holm Oak Vineyard
  • St Matthias (Moorilla) Vineyard
  • Ninth Island Vineyard
  • Montague Orchards (green field site)
  • Hillwood Berry Farm
  • Angus Landfall

Dashboards are being refined in consultation with industry partners to enable the journey from raw data to processed data (information) to analytical data to create new insights and evidence for data-driven decision-making to improve farming efficiency, quality and productivity in real time.

Farmbots are raised garden beds suitable for growing herbs and vegetables.  The Farmbots are 6*1.5 metres including a robotic arm and dashboard, which positions them at the intersection of STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics), agricultural science, Internet of Things (IoT) and robotics, creating an ideal educational tool for primary and secondary schools and TAFE colleges. The Farmbots are equipped with software and a dashboard to plan the vegetable garden after which a robotic arm inserts and waters the seeds/vegetable plants and automatically detects and removes weeds.

One Farmbot is already in operation on the University of Tasmania’s Sandy Bay campus and will be used to aid research, teaching and engagement with schools.  Five Farmbots are partially assembled and ready for deployment and commissioning at five Tasmanian schools and colleges.  The Farmbots will provide an exciting and applied means for schools to interact with their students to showcase how Industry 4.0 can provide value to farming that may encourage them to pursue careers and education in agricultural science and STEM.

Robotic Farming with Researcher
Farmbot with Researcher at the University of Tasmania Sandy Bay Campus

Sense-T (UTAS) and DPIPWE have jointly funded the deployment of 50 temperature sensors on farms and properties in the Tamar Valley, provided telemetry and data costs and developed a website visualisation for the farmers/growers. The purpose was to gather temperature data to provide high-resolution air temperature monitoring for frost notifications, degree day and chill hour tracking via and The sensing has been occurring for over one year. The other purpose was a very early stage introduction to IoT through the benefits that can be gained through data, even if through only one sensor.

Through the use of sensors on farms, important data can be gathered, integrated and analysed which can help to make better decisions related to environmental impacts on growing, energy and water usage, reducing waste, and eliminating breaks along the perishable food cold chain.

This Internet of Things focused testbed will improve productivity, reduce waste, and build sustainable business practices by integrating data to inform decision making. Further efficiencies can be gained through the automating of data collection from sensors and automating business operations.

Cherry Hill Coolstores is an intermediary (custodian) between buyers and sellers of potato seed having approximately 16,000 tonnes of potato seed in storage per annum.

This project is the first stage in solving a real business problem of how to systematically manage the many continuing movements of over 16,000 tonnes of potato seed throughout the year for Cherry Hill Coolstores to gain visibility to the individual one and two tonne boxes of potato seed.

The objective of this project is to design, prototype and trial a system for Cherry Hill Coolstores that:

  1. Automates the process of tracking and location and movement of potato seed boxes, simplifying the management of movements as well as providing an electronic record of movements of each load.
  2. Creates an audit trail of environmental data (temp/humidity/Co2) and time stamping at each stage
  3. Develop additional points of interest in the system if they are not cost prohibitive that:
    • Monitor the time spent at each stage, and
    • Optimises forklift movements.

To overcome the problems associated with above ground sensors, Sense-t is collaborating with the Tasmanian Institute of Agriculture to develop the next generation of field-based sensors that can measure, map, interpret and communicate sensor data that meets the growers’ needs.

The current generation of wired systems for measuring soil moisture continue to be damaged due to field operations such as ploughing, livestock chewing cables and limitations of sensors further than 10 metres from a fence line.  After consultation with growers, a need for another option became evident resulting in this project funded by the Soils CRC.

This project is a collaboration between the Tasmanian Institute of Agriculture, Sense-T and the University of Southern Queensland and growers that is developing soil moisture sensors buried underground able to transmit data wirelessly to the farmer.  Benefits include reduced maintenance and damage costs,  easier integration to cloud services, and real-time analysis of soil moisture.

The smart shovel concept was developed from interviews with growers who reported that they had ‘abandoned the use of sensors and probes and had gone back to walking the paddock with a shovel’. This project will build our farmers a ‘smarter’ shovel, designed to measure soil moisture and salinity and compaction which will be mapped and visualised through smart phones whilst in the paddock.

This project aims to increase usability of sensors in the agriculture sector by allowing sensors to be buried in the ground and wirelessly transmit data to the end user. Current generation wired systems have had issues with damage due to field operations such as ploughing, livestock chewing cables and limitations of sensors further than 10m from a fence line. A simple and elegant solution is to replace the cable with a wireless solution. This gives further benefits of reduced maintenance and easier integration to cloud services.

This project is a second stage research project initially funded through the Australian Research Council’s Industrial Transformation Research Hub and Perfection Fresh that developed a mango supply chain decision support system.

The new project is jointly funded by the iMOVE CRC and Perfection Fresh that operates and validate the decision support system from two mango farms in the Northern Territory and Far North Queensland to mango ripening centres in real time during the 2022/2023 mango season to provide a proof of concept for the potential of a commercial roll-out to other mango farms.  Further details are available on the iMove website.

This 3-year project, funded by the Federal Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment: Traceability Grants Program is focusing on the traceability of Tasmanian cherries to international markets and attempting to reduce their counterfeiting that affects the reputation of high quality Tasmanian cherries.

The project is a collaboration between the Australian Maritime College, the Tasmanian Institute of Agriculture and Sense-T working closely with Tasmanian cherry producers to design and develop hardware and software solution that enables consumers to check the authenticity of the cherry package that can also serve as a digital marketing tool to promote the provenance story of the cherries.

The project aims to develop an operational cloud-based system with one management application and one end-user application focussed on traceability of Australian fruit marketed in China.

Two key horticultural products, cherries and berries, are the focus for the project.

Sense-t’s involvement is to design and develop software and hardware for the project.

The end-user application has three main functions:

  1. allows retailers and consumers to check the authenticity of the package.  This is achieved through the unique identity device attached to each package.  The application allows a mobile device (e.g. a smart phone) to retrieve identity information of the package through Bluetooth technology.
  2. consumers can check the provenance of the product they are purchasing through the unique ID given to the package.
  3. the application can serve as a digital marketing tool to promote the provenance story of the product and other products that may be of interest.

Sense-T is collaborating with the Australian Centre for Research on Separation Science (ACROSS), NRM North and TelLab, which is an Irish company, to research one of the costliest and most challenging environmental problems - the nutrient pollution in water systems.

The project is funded by the Australian Research Council’s Linkage Program and TelLab to further develop and trail an in-situ water quality analyser that provides continuous real-time observations.

The project outcomes will allow users to remotely monitor water quality, and provide alerts to pollutant levels, which enables immediate action to be taken to prevent environmental damage.

To facilitate the real-time data observations, Sense-T is developing low-cost wireless telemetry solutions to provide for networked and remote field deployment of analytical platform for extended periods (1-3 months) with automated data transfer and integration / analysis.

Completed projects

The University of Tasmania’s Pathways to Market was one of the Australian Research Council’s first Industrial Transformation Research Hubs.  The research project Pathways to Market: transforming food industry futures through improved sensing, provenance and choice was interested in how ‘big data’ and the Internet of Things affect the way premium produce is grown, transported and purchased and by focusing on the entire value chain benefit is enhanced.

The project focused on three Australian food industries; Beef, Southern Rock Lobster and Calypso Mangos, each commodity being a premium product in both domestic and international markets.

The Greenham's Beef project focused on reducing meat spoilage by developing a predictive tool for estimating the time temperature effect on pathogenic meat microbe development; and understanding the effects of meat pH, lactic acid, and glucose on the growth of more desirable bacterial spoilage communities, which result in higher quality scores.

An additional component of the project was to produce a Decision Support System (DSS) which incorporated performance management data for beef producers and enabling traceability of meat from paddock to plate was produced.

As a result of this research a microbial meat spoilage predictor model for beef products has been interfaced with the Greenham Tasmania Premium Beef DSS and Combase USDA Database which provided a highly useful tool for food companies worldwide to understand safer ways to of producing, transporting and storing foods.

The aim of the DSS & telemetry streams was to produce a DSS that will have significant utility for HW Greenhams & Sons and their strategic suppliers; incorporating performance management data for beef producers & enabling traceability of meat from paddock to plate. This work stream has been completed in line with these objectives. It had been planned to conduct further telemetry trials by the end of Project (17th July 2019) however, the telemetry data from the Greenham's Beef project was combined with data from the PFA Mango project to improve analysis and enhance the eventual publication.

A software tool was created to aid the clients to understand better how its consumers engage with their content on social media. The group has been developing a tool to systematically mine consumer engagement data on the Instagram (IG) social media platform. The tool then uses the data collected to create different visualisation modules for clients to understand the level of their consumer engagement better and quicker.

The aim of this project was to develop a new sensor to provide reliable sensing of environmental factors (Nitrates, Ammonium and Phosphate) at a cost-effective price point. The first Beta Prototype Water Quality Monitor (WQM) was delivered and installed for field testing on the Tyenna River at Westerway in January 2020. The equipment is performing with the expected sensitivity and producing interesting results.

The project targeted issues of resource management and food safety, as well as addressing a range of supply chain requirements, including those of regulators, buyers/importers and end-point consumers.

This project has raised awareness of the importance of traceability within and along the southern rock lobster supply chain. The research team engaged with the industry on their current practices and identified and demonstrated through trial and evaluation a range of mechanisms, tools and techniques to enhance SRL traceability systems.  The research project has directly contributed to enhancing SRL traceability practises. The production of a ‘Traceability Implementation’ guide provides the SRL industry with a genuine opportunity to take a step forward to ‘better traceability practises’ and it opens up the possibility for the industry to consider the development of an industry traceability platform for coordination and integration of an industry-wide traceability system built on GS1 standards.

The Australian Research Council’s Industrial Transformation Research Hub program (Pathways to Market) and Perfection Fresh funded this project to develop an integrated and whole of supply chain decision support system capable of providing accurate forecasts of CALYPSO® Mango fruit set, harvest, fruit quality and shelf life to improve efficiency, logistics management and the delivery of value to mango consumers.

Major sensor and telemetry deployments occurred on farms in the Northern Territory and Far North Queensland to establish critical real-time micro-climate metrics and a consistent observation data set for validation, and input to various models.

Over 1,800 sensors were deployed along the mango supply chain from two farms to mango ripening centres, including harvest bin tracking, harvest vehicle movement tracking and in transit, with the data being integrated with third part data.  Algorithms were developed to allow detection of the picking/filling of bins in the field and therefore the time fruit is left in field, time from field to washing/packing sheds and the time required for fruit to reach the sorting line. This allows linking to quality data thus allowing mapping of quality to within a few trees in an orchard block.

The project has now entered its second stage funded by the iMOVE CRC and Perfection Fresh and involves the trialling of the decision support system in real time during the 2022/2023 mango season.

The purpose of the project funded by TasRail was to collate and prepare data for predictive analysis of rail track segments vulnerable to damage. This was achieved by the design and development of a video inspection rig incorporating nine computers, seven cameras and a range of sensors that was bolted to a rail track vehicle.  Machine learning was used to assist automated image recognition of specific faults and through an online video inspection tool developed by Sense-T enable TasRail to assess track condition.

Sense-t partnered with the Natural Assets Spatial Intelligence Section of the Tasmanian State Government’s Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment to develop and deploy a sensor network to deliver real time temperature data across the Tamar Valley in Northern Tasmania.  The project involved the deployment of 50 temperature sensors and telemetry solutions on the properties of horticultural enterprises in the Tamar Valley which enabled profiling and forecasting temperature at an 80-metre resolution instead of the current 3-kilometre resolution reported by the Bureau of Meteorology.

The Tamar Valley Real Time Temperature Mapping project has provided multiple agricultural industries in the Tamar Valley with high resolution temperature mapping that otherwise would not be available; a sensor network demonstration example for future soil moisture and temperature/humidity modelling work; a starting platform for real time cumulative temperature indices as well as capability for augmenting a high-resolution temperature forecast mapping system that caters to grower needs (e.g. frost risk alerts for vineyards); demonstrated how of IoT networking technologies can be utilised in remote locations; and raised awareness of IoT applications for agricultural industries in and around the Tamar Valley.

Tamar Valley Real Time Temperature Mapping