Enology + IoT = Great Wine
A winery modernization by Enotek
Alvaro, the winemaker and owner of the Alximia winery in Valle de Guadalupe located in northwest Mexico, required monitoring and controlling the air temperature and humidity in his wine cellar to reduce the amount of evaporation from his oak aging barrels. Due to the characteristics of the winery (underground cellar, desired esthetics), and their plan to deploy more IoT systems in remote locations within the 3 Ha winery, a LoRaWAN®-based solution was an obvious choice for Enotek.
Enotek is a small Mexican company focused on providing IoT solutions for problems affecting the wine industry in Mexico. Working directly with winemakers in Mexico's premier wine region, they are developing an ecosystem of hardware and software systems to control critical processes in vineyards and wineries.
As a team, Enotek has been developing automation technologies for more than 10 years. As a company, in 2018 they started developing IoT solutions (as a service) for businesses in the smart buildings and assembly plant sectors. Strong restrictions on travel and working in closed spaces due to COVID, forced them to look for other opportunities. For the last year, they have focused on helping the local wine-making industry. Enotek has developed systems to monitor and control the temperature in fermentation tanks as well as other conditions in the winery. Working closely with passionate winemakers has allowed them to lean on their expertise in developing products and service schemes according to their needs and capabilities.
Maintaining a low ambient temperature and high relative humidity in barrel cellars can be critical to making great wines and keeping production costs down. Keeping track and controlling these conditions is generally neglected in small and medium-sized wineries in Mexico due to poor connectivity and high costs associated with HVAC systems, particularly in the hot and dry climate in the region, leading to significant wine loss and degradation.
RAK Product Used
The first stage of the project consisted of installing completely wireless temperature and relative humidity sensors in the cellar and uploading data to the cloud, via a LoRaWAN gateway. The system is a direct implementation of RAK's WisBlock Weather Monitor Kit and WisGate Developer Gateway (RAK7246). Other than batteries and installation materials, no additional components are used. Data is uploaded via MQTT to the cloud to be stored and visualized in Enotek’s web app. Alvaro and his staff can now monitor and analyze diurnal and seasonal ambient condition variations, as well as receive alarms via e-mail and messaging services through the web app, where other modules of the Enotek ecosystem are also installed.
For the second phase of the project, they are adding RAK's IAQ sensor (RAK1906) as well as a CO2 sensor connected via the WisBlock interface Module (RAK5811). A microcontroller will be added to the system for the A/C or humidifier units. It will optimize their operation to ensure proper aging conditions are kept without increasing energy consumption. Once the components were selected and purchased, no more than 2 months were required to configure, test and deploy the system. Installation on the site was a matter of a few hours.
The solution that Enotek offers – the Enotek Cellar Monitor - for the winemaking industry consists of three elements:
- Sensors – With a great set of default and additional features, the sensors measure temperature, relative humidity, atmospheric pressure. The data is taken continuously every 5 minutes. The sensors are battery-powered and do not require Wi-Fi. Some of the optional features are a buzzer, RS485 interface for cooling systems, illumination sensors, and more.
- Gateway – The link between the sensors and the web app. Offers secure data transfer, low power consumption, the capacity of connecting a large number of sensors. The gateway interconnects the sensors and controllers in each of the tanks and links the system to the Internet. In addition, it is responsible for preventive actions such as data backup and the issuance of alarms in the event of failures in critical systems.
- Web application – The user interface offers secure data storage in the Amazon cloud (AWS), the ability to check conditions in the cellar on any device and at any time and place, graphical visualization and data download of the history of the conditions in your cellar, alerts, and options to modify the operating parameters of the HVAC system.
Using them, now Enotek are convinced that RAK's LoRaWAN sensors and network devices, due to their versatility, ease of use, and low power/long-range capabilities, offer a great alternative to develop solutions to important problems in the winemaking business and other agricultural industries. Their affordability is a key element for these IoT technologies to benefit small agricultural and wine producers, even in developing nations.
Some of the wines will spend a large part of their life in an aging cellar. Controlling the temperature and humidity conditions in this space is essential to reduce losses due to evaporation and unwanted effects due to temperature fluctuations. With the Enotek Cellar Monitor, the winemaker will always be aware if the conditions in the cellar are optimal. He can receive alerts in the event of deviations from optimal conditions, visualize the behavior of the conditions in the cellar over time, monitor other environmental variables, such as CO2 or the content of VOCs, and so on.
Also, guarantee adequate control of the temperature in your tanks during vinification, or in any other process, avoiding conditions that can affect the quality of your wines. The temperature in the tanks of the winery is monitored in real-time through sensors. These are linked with controllers to regulate the flow of coolant and maintain the temperature of the fermentation tanks according to your needs. Enotek puts their not-invasive and wireless sensors in the desired cellar sites. The sensors then start to transmit the data to their servers in the AWS cloud through the gateway located in the winery. The client access the web platform of Enotek to check the status of their cellar, whenever and wherever they want.
That's it. One less factor to worry about, monitored from one place, with no learning curve. Enotek’s web application handles the storage and processing of data reliably and securely in the Amazon Web Services cloud. Through the intuitive and powerful user interface, you will always be up to date and in control of the conditions in your winery, from your laptop, tablet, or cell phone.
Enotek’s plan is to add more modules to their ecosystem to better control fermentation in tanks, such as wine sugar content, and address other pain points in the grape growing and winemaking industry. One particular area of interest, given the increasing drought conditions in northwest Mexico, is smart irrigation. This successful project and the experience with RAK's products have been fundamental in their ongoing effort to get into the ag-tech sector.
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