From Simple PLC Control to Complex Machines

How does the Vision570 handle artificial gravity? Perfectly!

Summary: Alana-Eco LLC, headquartered in the Ukraine, develops sophisticated, efficient technologies in the field of hydroponic crop cultivation.

Alana-Eco’s main offering is the complex, completely automated EVA system. EVA grows plants in a rotating aeroponic environment. This inventive approach maximizes yield due to three factors: efficient use of space, a tightly-controlled automated environment, and the powerful effect of orbitropism which boosts plant growth.The complex application requirements of EVA spurred Alana-Eco to use Unitronics’ Vision570 programmable logic controller  to replace the Mitsubishi controller originally used during development.

“ The Vision570 offered us more functionality when compared to the Mitsubishi alpha xl. The Vision570 has major advantages over the Mitsubishi alpha xl, especially in programming efficiency. When it comes to programming, Unitronics gives you boundless flexibility. Unitronics has enabled the Vison570 to be programmed to execute any task” Alana-Eco’ s director - Novikov Yuri.

In order to successfully grow plants from sprout to harvest-ready stage, EVA required the Vision570 to automate control of:

Plant feeding

In an aeroponic hothouse, the plants are not grown in soil, but rather in a non-soil nutrient solution in a substrate.

Automated preparation of the nutrient.

Complete automation of the feeding cycle, with strict regard to pH, EC, temperature, etc.

  • Alana-Eco implements a proprietary method of delivering nutrient solution to the substrate, which greatly reduces the amount of solution required.

Environmental control

  • General environmental conditions of temperature, misting, levels of humidity, ventilation.
  • Strict maintenance of CO2 levels via CLC feedback control, with regard to the plant growth cycle.

Orbitropism factor (artificial gravity)

EVA houses the growing plants in a series of cassettes fixed within a rotating drum. The rotation of the drum around its axis continuously changes the gravitational direction, and produces an effect known as this influences the release of auxins (plant hormones), affecting duration of sleeping and waking phases. The result is significant increase in plant growth.

According to Alana-Eco, in addition to performing the tasks listed above, the Vision570 filled other application requirements. V570 enabled easy management of EVA via the HMI screens displayed on the built-in color touchscreen—as well as the ability to remotely access the HMI application via Ethernet Remote Access. Another plus was Vision’s broad support for data communication protocols such as MODBUS, RS485, RS232, GSM. The ability to log, store, and even remotely access data to an SD card installed in V570 was another factor in its favor.