Dec 23, 2020
Since the introduction of the Dicam² development last year, a huge amount of work has been done but we are still behind schedule. Farmex expects the new controller to be available for commercial sales mid 2021.
The new generation of farmers are expecting next generation features from their controls especially with respect to remote access and easy data capture and use. The lessons that have been learned over the years will be retained – the need for flexibility, modularity, reliability and crucially, backward compatibility. The new Dicam² system will essentially be the same in concept as the previous system except very, very much more powerful and with more connectivity capabilities.
Three features of the new system stand out and they will have far reaching consequences:
- Dicam² controllers will have OTAP (over the air programming) capabilities built in. This means whole programs, program updates and technical support investigations can all be done remotely.
- The default interface with the Dicam² control network will be via an app running on a smart phone or other mobile device (tablet, iPad or similar). This means that more conventional interfaces like a display and knob or touch pads on the controllers will be an optional extra.
- With the addition of new more sophisticated drivers, the hardware platform specified for any particular job could be radically different from previous networks. Whereas it has typically been the case that there’s a controller for each room or building; the new controller has the capability of controlling whole sites. New drivers will have a basic level of control built in to make networks more robust and reliable. System specifiers could choose to emulate “traditional networks” if that’s what the end user wants or go for a network that is less hardware dense. Needless to say, this will have an impact on price and system operation.
Field trials of the new controllers have been ongoing for over a year in collaboration with Galebreaker who supply the UK and overseas markets with natural ventilation systems for livestock buildings. Meanwhile, Farmex has been working on identifying a UK-based partner to undertake the printed circuit board assembly and the interesting challenge of how the new more flexible system might be priced. This will probably entail hardware and software being separately identified and priced when systems are quoted. Much like PC systems purchase.