Four solutions for productivity in the sugar-energy sector

Modernisation of operations is essential for Brazil to maintain its position as the world's largest sugarcane producer.


21 October 2020

Brazil is historically the world's largest producer of sugarcane, moving about USD 40 billion of the economy in this market, according to the Union of the Sugarcane Industry (UNICA).

As the planted area of this cultivation does not increase significantly, technology plays a fundamental role in maintaining the growth scenario. It is through the modernisation of properties and equipment and automation of production that the efficiency and productivity necessary to achieve good results is ensured.

Hexagon's HxGN AgrOn platform, for example, offers information technology products to companies in the sector, integrating from planning, cultivation and harvesting to transportation. With more than 25,000 pieces of equipment in operation in 36 countries, the company is currently involved in the processes of 46% of global sugarcane production.

Check out four of the solutions that can modernise operations and improve industry productivity.

1 - Allocation of hall-out

One solution that helps increase the efficiency and productive time of harvest operations is HxGN AgrOn Hall-out Dynamic Allocation. The system synchronises the cutting rhythm of the harvesters with the movement of hall-outs, indicating the ideal time for the displacement of these tractors. This prevents the harvester from interrupting the cutting of sugarcane and further reduces the waiting time for a new haul-out to continue the operation.

The product uses machine-to-machine (M2M) communication between work front and haul-out queue, without server or concentrator. The equipment involved must have an onboard controller and use the local network connection.

Thus, the system predicts when the haul-out in use will reach its limit and, from that, automatically and optimally calls a new tractor, which will receive a message on its display. This choice of equipment considers criteria such as the distance between the harvester and haul-outs, movement routes, queue position etc. If one haul-out refuses the call or does not move after accepting it, another will be called automatically.

2 - Raw material traceability

With a combination of hardware and software, HxGN AgrOn Raw Material Traceability performs and monitors automated cane tracking from origin in the field to delivery to the industry.

The system works through advanced communication capabilities such as RFID technology. First, there is a communication between the displays of harvesters and haul-outs and then the haul-outs with the carts that will take the sugarcane to the industries. Finally, this information is delivered to the reception systems of the industries along with the raw materials.

Data such as the ID of the equipment and the operators of the machines, areas, and harvest time, for example, are made available, and can be stored and accounted for in management and control software.

This type of solution increases the quality and agility of operations, as well as the accuracy of production data, overcoming the lack of infrastructure for tracking loads in the field. In addition, human intervention is reduced, with the dispensing with manual notes and identification labels of the raw material.

3 - Precision Agriculture: auto steering and machine monitoring

Precision agriculture is fundamental not only for productivity in the field, but also for reducing costs with process optimisation and intelligent use of resources and inputs.

The solutions of the HxGN AgrOn platform save fuel consumption by up to 10%, increase on average 5% of planted area and reduce the application of inputs by up to 25% by reducing the repetitiveness of the trajectories of tractors, machinery, and agricultural implements.

HxGN AgrOn Auto Steering, for example, allows routes to be planned from the equipment itself, from an office or from a control room. Then, simply upload the maps to the onboard controller and start the operation.

The system has electric or hydraulic drive, being compatible with the vast majority of tractors on the market and also steer ready machines. Its performance also has technology for slope correction and sudden manoeuvres, sensors on the wheels that detect deviations in trajectory and ground compensation system.

Another impact solution in precision agriculture is HxGN AgrOn Machine Monitoring. With the help of automation by workflow, he manages information on the machines and fleets in the field, recording from second to second the position and the activity being performed in the cultivation and harvest of sugarcane.

This monitoring can also be integrated with pre-existing sensors on the machine and allows the setting of alarms for certain situations. Reports on yield, productivity, distance, speed, among other points, are generated for analysis.

To improve the accuracy of sugarcane planting and harvesting operations, Hexagon enables the integration of these two solutions into a single display.

4 - Control room

The HxGN AgrOn Control Room is a command centre structure that remotely and centrally manages all sugar-energy production operations.

The solution begins with the automatic identification of operations performed in the field, with recording of monitoring data, such as location and activity of harvesters and haul-outs, and telemetry, related to precision agriculture. This information is passed from the equipment displays to the control room cloud through 3G, 4G, Wi-Fi or satellite communication channels.

Thus, the centres receive data continuously and in real time, being possible to compare the activities performed with the planning goals, track the working hours and view maps and reports, including dashboard charts.

In addition to assisting in performance reviews, this solution allows notifications and alerts of irregularities, incidents, or problems on machines to be issued in real time, ensuring a more agile intervention.

The product also has modules with control rooms dedicated specifically to the processes of soil preparation, planting, cultivation, and treatment, harvesting and transportation of sugarcane.