Cloud computing supports research for satellite-guided sugar beet logistics
ZUTRA obtains IT resources for "field2factory" from the Business Cloud of Pironet NDH
"Field2Factory" - efficient beet harvests using satellites and radio chips
The research project, which is backed by the EU and the state of North Rhine-Westphalia, is developing IT systems that are intended to significantly speed up the beet harvest processes between farmers, transport companies and sugar factories using satellite navigation and RFID radio chips. Using the GPS global satellite navigation system, sugar beet fields are registered, the best access routes for logistics service providers are calculated and the loads of sugar beets stored at the edge of the fields are allocated to the correct growers when collection takes place.
Those involved in the project opted to use cloud computing on the basis of the pronounced fluctuations in the requirements for computing power and memory performance. "On the one hand due to the typical peaks in activity at harvest time," explains Rainer Emmerich, Logistics Manager at ZUTRA. He added: "On the other hand the flexible procurement of IT services from the cloud accommodates the working conditions associated with a research project. Many technical parameters must first prove themselves to be resilient in practice."
Disk storage and CPU can be scaled more quickly in the cloud
The outsourcing specialist Pironet NDH is responsible for the operation of the necessary database and application servers on a virtualised infrastructure in its high-security data centres. In doing so, the business cloud of Pironet NDH dynamically supplies the virtual servers with memory and processor power. Thus, research partners only use their limited IT budget to pay for what they actually use.
Affordable high-performance hardware for research
"The virtual server infrastructure is designed in such a way that the available performance can be scaled in a very short period of time and also distributed over other operational instances," explains Dr. Clemens Plieth, Managing Director for Service Delivery at Pironet NDH and who is responsible for the operation of the cloud systems, among other things.
Plieth illustrates the requirement for performance reserves from the cloud with the large quantities of data that the logistics and navigation systems have to handle in the subsequent regular operation. For example, using the GPS coordinates of the sugar beet fields they calculate the exact transport routes for freight invoicing from 300,000 data records. "For real-time calculations we need high-performance servers which would blow the project budget if we had to run them ourselves. Using on-demand access from the cloud, we were able to reduce these costs to a fractional amount," underlines Emmerich. At the start of the pilot, between 100 and 150 farmers will initially use the service. Following completion of the test phase, it is intended that 5,000 farmers will then access the service.
CANCOM Pironet AG & Co. KG
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