In gardening, the efficient supply of plants with water and nutrients plays a crucial role. The “watering trolleys” are a key tool for this, and they can distribute plant protection products as well. With this in mind, Dercks Gartenbau GmbH has launched the “precision watering trolley”. This particular system has the main goal of supplying plants with exactly the amount of water they need. It allows pinpoint placement of water in the center of each pot.
The challenge: Safe cable routing for an irrigation system
A special feature of the farm is the considerable savings potential: on a total area of 8 hectares, the system can reduce the amount of water required by 35%. It also halves the power consumption required for the pumps.
After initial positive experience with a prototype, the company decided in 2018 to develop an extended model with a wingspan of 45 meters and a speed of 18 m/min. This new model can supply an area of 9,180 m². With a capacity of 32 pots per square meter, the trolley provides amazing water savings of up to 60%. In numbers, this means: Up to 4,000 cubic meters of water and 1,400 kg of nutrient salts per hectare and season can be saved.
The gardening company was looking for a suitable cable routing that would safely guide the supply lines of the irrigation system, along the long travel paths.
The solution: E2 energy chain and condition monitoring through smart plastics
For energy chains, cables and plain bearing products, the igus company has developed a product family in which sensors make plastic components intelligent. The umbrella term for this is smart plastics. The solution for a safe routing of the supply lines was found in the project with Dercks Gartenbau with the E2 energy chains of the 3500 series. In addition to gentle cable routing, the low weight of the plastic chain ensures further energy savings and less wear, among other benefits. Direct and uncomplicated access to the cables and hoses is made possible by a crossbar system, which allows the energy chain to be opened without difficulty.
The energy chain is supplemented by i.sense sensor technology. The i.Sense module is attached directly to the cable routing and monitors pull and push forces acting on the cables, cable quality and data transmission rate. This condition monitoring system monitors the condition of the energy chains in order to prevent damage to the plant and thus also avoid cost-intensive repairs. If a limit value is exceeded, an emergency stop can be initiated.
The installation of both the energy chain and the monitoring system could be carried out by Dercks Gartenbau GmbH itself.
Thanks to the robust and wear-resistant guide within the energy chain, long operating times can be achieved. In addition, the area under the conduit provides space for the placement of additional potted plants.
The result: More floor space leads to amortization within 4 years
By freeing up additional space beneath the cable conduits, 10 more rows of pots can be utilized. This results in a 3% higher efficiency. The maximized space utilization alone pays for the investment after four years. This calculation has been confirmed by Dercks Gartenbau after a season in which consistently positive experiences were made with the new cable carrier.
Condition monitoring with smart plastics increased machine availability and maximum service life. Preventing unplanned shutdowns or machine failures reduces the operator’s costs, and early warnings also reduce maintenance costs.