Trial launched for sensor-based livestock tracking system

This article was printed in Ontario Farmer May 7, 2019

By Lilian Schaer
Guelph – A new sensor-based tracking system for livestock transportation will shortly be starting its first commercial use trial.
Through a system of smart sensors, Transport Genie monitors conditions inside livestock trailers and provides that information to users along the supply chain. Later this month, the team behind the innovation will be heading to Switzerland to install the system for the country’s largest poultry producer.
“Transport is the time in a farmed animal’s life that it is most vulnerable to infectious disease or injury, so it’s very gratifying to be able to provide a reliable tool to ensure their comfort and safety,” said Chief Technology Officer Idris Soule.
The sensors monitor variables such as temperature and humidity, as well as a wide range of other factors that affect the animals’ comfort and welfare, including driving conditions and behaviour such as braking and acceleration. The sensors can also be used to control devices such as cooling fans, misters and drinkers.
And although other devices can record things like temperature during transport, according to Soule, Transport Genie’s advantage is that it can relay accurate real-time data to the driver so that actions to correct any emerging problems can be taken right away.
According to Soule, a presentation about their system at the Poultry Tech Summit in Atlanta last fall generated a lot of interest, including from a large German poultry producer. That brought the Transport Genie team to Europe last winter, an opportunity they also used to visit with the Swiss producer who will be starting to use the system.
The company also recently announced the appointment of Soule, its senior developer, to his new position as Chief Technology Officer. Soule is a leading software engineer with broad industry experience leading a variety of machine learning and GPS technology initiatives with Fortune 500 companies, including Blackberry and Google. He joined Transport Genie in 2017.
In his new role, Soule will continue to be involved with core development work, but will also take on more of a management role, including establishing specific protocols for trials to ensure things run smoothly.
“The system has to work well all the time and not have errors while in use,” he said. “The system is real-time and when it runs, it is in-transit so we can’t just go out to fix it if something isn’t working properly.”
A research project is also underway at University of Saskatchewan that is looking to test the robustness of the sensors during cleaning, disinfecting and heat treating of livestock trailers.