Mobile Solutions Off-Highway

Telematics for agricultural machinery: Smart hemp harvesting with IoT

Commercial hemp has a future. With support from Bosch Rexroth, the Belgian agricultural machinery manufacturer, Hyler is implementing a self-propelled harvester including telematics. The fact that the machine will be capable of harvesting other fiber crops in future makes it all the more interesting for agriculture.

Long-fiber plants are regarded as the raw material of the future. They are versatile and help protect the climate because they are carbon-negative, require little water and promote biodiversity. This is particularly true of commercial hemp, which can cope without agrochemicals in an increasingly dry climate. However, industrial harvesting is not trivial. With end-to-end support from Bosch Rexroth, the West Flemish agricultural machinery manufacturer, Hyler has now developed an innovative solution that also excites its users in terms of connectivity.


Self-propelled harvester with IoT connectivity

Hyler specializes in harvesting and processing fiber crops such as flax, hemp, kenaf, jute and miscanthus. The harvester developed together with Bosch Rexroth is making the industry sit up and take notice. That's because, although the self-propelled Sativa 200 is designed specifically for hemp, it can also harvest other fibre crops. "This multifunctionality is very attractive for farmers," explains Niels Baert, founder and CEO of Hyler. "Because our machine not only works very productively, but also paves the way for them to grow hemp and other additional crops."

According to Niels Baert, the Sativa 200 is the first self-propelled machine to harvest hemp in a highly efficient manner. Hemp stalks are separated into two sections in the process. Sensors detect the plant height and the mower adjusts automatically. After cutting, both segments are conveyed to the rear and deposited in two rows, with feet and top in separate windrows for further processing in the field. Hyler also offers separate machines for turning.

Picture: Hyler
The Sativa 200 is based on a complete package from Bosch Rexroth including telematics, mobile electronics and software as well as travel and working hydraulics.

Device Connectivity

Standard modules for connectivity and device management

For a successful market launch, Hyler not only relies on the proven components from Bosch Rexroth in the areas of hydraulics, mobile electronics and software, but also on the modular telematics modules from the BODAS Connect portfolio. The open and scalable solution package BODAS Connect Device Connectivity brings Hyler strategic advantages: On the one hand, the easily customizable modules for data collection, connectivity and device management minimize development effort and shorten time-to-market. On the other hand, the modular design with standardized data interfaces opens up a high degree of freedom for connecting a private cloud with individual data management.

Picture: Bosch Rexroth
Standards-based, modular and open: The Device Connectivity telematics solution combines RCU, device software and management. This reduces the development effort and allows individual data management.


High-performance and future-proof data collection

The performance data of the Sativa 200 are impressive: in just two hours, the harvester reaps more than 2 ha of area. Plant height may vary between 1.4 and 3.2 meters. Away from the harvesting operation, the machine reaches travel speeds of up to 40 km/h. To achieve this, Bosch Rexroth working hydraulics precisely matched the travel drive and software. The company also supplied the high-performance telematics unit.

The microprocessor-based Rexroth BODAS Connectivity Unit (RCU) is capable of collecting large amounts of data from various sources in a very short time and transferring it securely and reliably to the cloud. Its layered Linux-based architecture allows Hyler to achieve the desired separation of device and data management. It also allows producers to deploy their own applications in a protected area and easily move the encapsulated device software to a new processor-based hardware platform later, if needed.

Picture: Bosch Rexroth
A solid foundation for off-highway telematics: The Rexroth Control Unit (RCU) connects mobile machinery to the cloud. It collects and transmits data and enables highly efficient and safe device management including FOTA and SOTA.

Optimized harvesting and fast remote support

The harvest-relevant data provides users with valuable information and parameters to optimize the harvesting process, such as the length of the swaths and the layer thickness. In addition, the RCU also records support-relevant data such as consumption, hydraulic pressure or geoposition. This enables Hyler to support its customers with remote diagnostics or remote configuration and ultimately optimize service and maintenance.. "For our customers, telematics is a great benefit, because we can help them immediately in the event of technical problems," says Niels Baert. However, it was also particularly important to Hyler to update the intelligence of the harvesters efficiently without having to send a technician to site. The complete package BODAS Connect Device Connectivity provides tools suitable for mass production including the Bosch IoT Suite platform, which has been proven a million times over. This allows both the firmware of the RCU and RC controllers as well as the driving and working software and the device software of the RCU to be updated over the air in a fail-safe manner (FOTA or SOTA) and managed highly efficiently.

Real-time data accelerates joint development

Real-time data from telematics also plays a key role when it comes to fine-tuning the travel drive, working hydraulics and vehicle software. "This information is very important for testing, as there is hardly any historical data for a completely new machine from which ideal behavior can be derived," explains Maarten Van Houtte, responsible Account Development Manager at Bosch Rexroth Belgium. "For this purpose, the RCU provides us not only with important parameters but also with wear and driving conditions with a geographical reference, so that we can compare the target/actual behavior of the hydraulics precisely. This way, we not only find the best solution each time together with the customer, but can also modify it much more efficiently and improve it further in future." 

In addition to the safety functions and working hydraulics, the BODAS software developed by Bosch Rexroth also controls the travel drive. On the hardware side, this consists of an A4VG high-pressure axial piston pump and four GFT8120 wheel gears with dynamic braking and integrated A6VE hydraulic motors. The programming is based on standard components from the BODAS software library such as DRC (Drive Control), HLB (High Level Breaking) or ASR. The components required for implementation, such as the controller, sensors and joystick, come from the BODAS Mobile Electronics portfolio. The various circuits of the working hydraulics are driven by reliable Rexroth gear pumps and A10VO/A10VG axial piston pumps as well as a 2-circuit variable displacement pump A30VG with differential lock function, which made it possible to implement the customer-specific hydraulic circuits in a compact, efficient and flexible way.

Convincing overall package for market success

Supported by Bosch Rexroth's standard solutions and application knowledge, Hyler was not only able to realize inspiring driving behavior and innovative harvesting functions in a short time, but also a high-performance connection to the Internet of Things. "With Bosch Rexroth, we always find the right solution for the individual machine and its components," says Niels Baert. The market interest in the Sativa 200 with the development partner's overall package of reliable hardware, innovative software, and telematics proves him right. Even before the start of production, the first batch was sold out, and Hyler has a waiting list for the current year. Niels Baert is sure that demand will increase even further when the first farmers report on their harvesting experience. "The jointly developed harvester is a real breakthrough for Hyler," he says. "We look forward to advancing the future of fibre crops together, and want to realize many more applications together."