Mr. Otto Tsai（President, Quadlink Technology, Inc.）
A report by Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations indicates that aquaculture will become the main source of animal protein for humans in the future. The output of aquaculture has exceeded the amount of catch since 2013. The increasing demand for aquatic products has resulted in a global trend of development of high-efficiency aquaculture. The demand on management and control of water quality will certainly be more stringent and innovative aquaculture technology will be essential for higher productivity. Many countries with aquaculture industries have prepared policies to further the technological development of aquaculture. The ever-developing technological advancement of intelligent aquaculture means more convenience and benefits to aquafarmers than traditional methods. The early warning mechanism gives more time for risk response and stabilizes the production efficiency, which reduces the stereotype of aquaculture as a high-risk and high-volatility industry and significantly increases the overall output value and quality of the aquatic products.
Quadlink Technology Inc. was established in 2010. Its main business scope is services provided to Taiwan's aquaculture business, with the Internet of Things technology as the core, by integrating various technologies of water quality sensors, solar power systems, 4G/WiFi/LoRa/NBIoT and other communication systems, cloud system service, mobile app, data computing and big-data automated management. The main purpose of the state-of-art smart breeding system is to optimize and maximize the aquaculture production, and to minimize potential losses due to global warming and extreme weather impacts. It uses equipment that is environmentally friendly, and has drawn the attention and interest of the aquaculture industries and academic institutions both domestically and internationally.
Quadlink is a pioneering manufacturer of smart monitoring systems of aquaculture water quality. Its smart monitoring system (QAM300-DE) enables the operators to obtain the vital parameters in real time, including those of water temperature (Temp), dissolved oxygen (DO), acid-base value (pH), oxidation-reduction potential (ORP), salinity, etc. In conjunction with the intelligent equipment control system (QAM300-OC), it enables better breeding management. The aquafarmers, by using one of the parameters, dissolved oxygen (DO), can set the conditions to automatically activate the waterwheel to maintain the stability of aquatic organisms and to achieve higher efficiency of power consumption. By setting different situational modules for automatic programmed feeding according to the growth stage of the breeding species, they can ensure more precise feeding to save the feed costs, manpower and stabilize water quality. By using the ORP data, they have an early warning mechanism on water quality deterioration, so immediate actions can be taken. These solutions were hardly possible in the past, but are now easily done through mobile APPs or a laptop computer.
There are four major parts of the AIoT monitoring platform as applied in aquaculture:
1. Water quality monitoring system
In terms of the hardware device, the water quality monitoring uses solar power, which eliminates the inconvenience of cable installation. As aquafarms are located outdoors on the beach, this also avoid the problem of cables deployed in aquafarms of high salinity and high temperature. The sensor collects data every 5 minutes, 24 hours a day, which means 288 pieces of data a day for each parameter. With 5 types of data per day, that would be 1,440 pieces of data a day and 432,000 pieces of data in a 10-month breeding cycle. Both the data collected in the breeding pond and the risk factor data obtained are significant for improving the yield. These automated IoT sensors send voice warning messages when abnormal water quality conditions are detected, which helps avoid risks and allow the aquafarmers to obtain a more stable harvest. As in the example in the previous paragraph, dissolved oxygen (DO) is an indicator of life support and energy saving; the pH value indicates sudden changes due to internal environment and/or external weather factors so to ensure the cultured species remain in a growth environment within the range of safety values; and the oxidation-reduction potential (ORP) data provide early warning of water quality deterioration. Experienced aquafarmers would refer to these data, whether they are below the critical value or are displaying certain cycle patterns, to take measures of water quality improvement such as applying probiotic products, exercising appropriate water drainage or replacement, etc. They can study the efficiency of feeding and the changes of the breeding conditions based on changes of water temperature, so as to make appropriate responses. Salinity change is also important in determining the impact of the osmotic pressure of the cultured species on the growth rate and meat flavor. The system design is flexible enough to provide room for customization and expansion, so different sensor devices can be selected. In addition to qualities of high precision and high waterproof level, the device must be durable in the harsh breeding environment so as to be able to collect complete breeding data for analysis and use, as the basis of the comprehensive traceability system and the big data system.
Figure 1: Structure diagram of the water quality monitoring system
2. Smart Equipment Monitor and Contorl System
The smart equipment monitor and control system connects cloud data and commands through wireless network to multiple devices, such as aerators, pumping motors, blowers, feeding machine, etc. This allows real-time remote operation of the power switch and optimized parameter adjustment according to environmental factors. Innovative and energy-saving smart aquaculture is achieved by aquafarmers through mobile devices such as computers, smart phones and tablets that are connected to the equipment. Compared with the traditional aquafarming, the power saved is over 30%, and even over 90% with the use of innovative energy-saving aerators. In terms of electricity safety, the system provides current monitoring and protection of the power equipment, so that warnings are issued for cases of leakage, phase failure, overloads, or heavy drag to minimize the risk factors. Staff not on site can still monitor the situation on the spot using the IP camera and meet the feeding needs of the breeding species at different growth stages by operating the multi-period automatic feeding settings.
Figure 2: Smart monitoring Structure diagram
3. IoT Cloud Platform APP
"Q IoT", an IoT cloud platform APP, is developed by Quadlink. The design concept is based on intuitive operation. Through the connection between the real-time monitoring data and remote equipment, it collects and analyzes real-time data to produce multiple reports and charts. Alarms will be issued through App, SMS, or voice messages in case of any abnormal conditions. Figure 3 below shows how the data from the cloud platform are used for more detailed and diversified parameter analysis to provide substantial help to aquafarmers with rich background knowledge. In addition, all the data obtained throughout the complete breeding cycle and the risks that occurred are processed through appropriate algorithms to provide predictions of key data (Figure 4), as the basis of suggestions for better breeding data reference models.
Figure 3: Multi-parameter analysis chart of the cloud platform
Figure 4: Key data prediction of algorithm models
4. Application of Cold Chain: Food storage environment monitoring system
Quadlink, through its "Safe Food", a customized processing and cold-chain storage monitoring system, provides the function of continuous monitoring of the temperature and humidity of the freezer of the aquatic products. It saves labor and costs, complies with HACCP requirements, ensures the freshness of the food, and avoids food deterioration due to abnormal temperature and humidity during storage. Quadlink provides the monitoring function at both the ends of aquatic production and the aquatic processing and logistics environment. The temperature and humidity monitoring system provides transparent and traceable data throughout the process for the convenience of the consumers.
Figure 5: Structure diagram of food storage monitoring system
Cases of application:
1. Mr. Huang Kuo-Liang, from Beimen, Tainan, a winner of the Top 100 Young Farmers Award, has used the smart water quality and breeding monitoring systems. In recent years, he has also used smart monitoring system (QAM300-DE) to help establish Taiwan’s first land-based lobster aquafarm. The products include various high-value cold water aquaculture species, such as Ornate Spiny Lobster, Scalloped Spiny Lobster, Cooked Australian Spiny Lobster, rock bream, etc. His farm has been visited by the President of Palau and the ambassadors from four Central American countries in Taiwan. He won their praise for the high advanced aquaculture technologies he had used and received their invitation to visit their countries and provide technical support.
2. The Shin-Tung-Yang Aquafarm at Changbin Township, Taitung County, is specialized in whiteleg shrimp farming. This is a new attempt after its earlier investment failure on the breeding of small abalones. With a unique whiteleg white shrimp farm established, Shin-Tung-Yang received the TAP certificate of aquatic products in 2009. No drugs or antibiotics of any kind are allowed throughout the breeding process, and regular inspection is performed on drug residues and breeding environment sanitation. The ideal of sustainable farming limits the use of environmental resources and makes only one harvest per year, making each whiteleg white shrimp even more valuable. The use of the smart monitoring system ensures the transparent breeding process and traceability to provide consumers with a secure source of food.
3. Chiafeng Aquafarm located on the coastline of Zhubei, Hsinchu County is a sea water mullet breeding farm at the highest latitude point in Taiwan. With its unique geographical environment and climatic conditions, the farm welcomes the harvest season in October (the ninth month on the lunar calendar) when the strong west wind arrives. Their most popular product is the plump mullet roe, known as "Mullet gold." Mr. Hsu Feng-Li, owner of the farm, has collaborated with experts from various fields: aquaculture, nutrition, biotechnology, AioT, etc. He insists on the organic breeding on the farm, and uses only self-cultured probiotics. Mullets and shrimps live in the pond in symbiosis! The appearance, color and fullness of the mullet roe make it a top-grade product, with dense and solid texture and the multi-layered rich flavor, a natural marine flavor!
The benefits of the AIoT intelligent equipment system include stable and accurate data from the sensors and also freedom from potential major losses. Besides, the convenience of management of collected parameters works in line with the connection with the smart start-up control to achieve higher energy-saving effects. The complete set of parameters forms the data basis for management optimization. It helps increase the productivity and the revenues and build the traceability certificate, which is a strong asset in obtaining international certification and attaining the higher level of the aquaculture industry. Consumers can refer to the data of traceability and transparency to enjoy safe and healthy food. Both ends of the production and consumption mutually benefit due to the technological advancement.