F-POS ([email protected]) is a decentralised vertical farming solution which aimed to provide a new shopping experience for customers at the store and bring fresh produce close to end-user.
Traditional agriculture was identified as one of the major sources of climate change and environmental degradation. With the increase of human population in the next 50 years, a solution is needed to fill the gap of food shortage in the future. Vertical farming (Hydroponics) presented as alternative farming practice and promised to grow crops sustainably, faster and using significantly fewer resources. Through the research, the current vertical farms face two main issues, the lack of market and low public conception towards this new growing method. Therefore, an opportunity was identified to bring the farm in the urban city at the supermarket. It can help vertical farmers expand their sale network to retail and customer can see through their eyes how the crops were grown, gaining more trust into this new growing method. The following is the pages of the design dissertation.
[email protected] is a decentralised integrated farming solution which growing are disperse among different point of sale. Each point of sale only responsible to supply a small amount of people in the area. Majority of the farming will be monitored by computer algorithm and artificial intelligence. In this system, farmers does not need to have a large space as farm, they rather providing farming service in different point of sale to performing regular maintenance and repair. This save farmer initial cost and resource to set up large farm. Furthermore, customer can see the whole growing process and pick their own produce at the store. The system and its concept can benefit different stakeholders in different ways.
For each [email protected] node, it will install the farm tower at the point of sale. Each node will be backed up by a back-end farm, which its responsibility is for germination of seeds, preparing growing trays and managing trays across different farming nodes in the POS. Farmers rather than centralised in one location at the backend farm, farmers will go into different farming nodes to help to do regular maintenance. Supermarkets are responsible to provide space, water and electricity to help maintain the farming node at their locations. Furthermore, all the nodes within the system are located within walking distance which helps to minimise the dependence on large logistics network on transporting trays and crops.
F-POS is a decentralised tower-based hydroponic farming solution that is utilising the [email protected] system. The system and design aimed to provide a simple and automated solution for growing instore (Point of sale). F-POS comprised of three major components, Growing Tower, Growing Trays and Management robot in the back-end farm. It all starts from the back-end farm, which responsible for the germination of seeds, preparation of growing trays and initial growth. Once the crops are matured at a stage, the growing tray with the crops will be transferred to the farming node at the store for the final week of growing. When it was ready for harvest, the tray will place outside the tower at the display shelves and ready for the customer to pick up. Finally, the empty trays will be recycled back to the back-end farm to create a full cycle.
Growing tower is a critical unit within the growing solutions. It is a tower-based modular stack design which helps to adapt to different internal height space. All major electronics such as pump, water reservoir will be located at the base of the tower and heat sink is on the outer shell to make sure it will not overheat. In each stack, it will have individual temperature, humidity, window flow control to ensure its adaptability to the requirement of different crops. Furthermore, an AI camera sensing technology is being used to help 24/7 monitoring the health of crops. If the camera detects any irregular colour change and anomalies, the computer system will flag the stack. It will notice the logistics robot to collect and send to farmers for further check and change. Finally, it has a wide spectrum LED for constant growth and accommodate the light intensity required by different plants.
The logistics robot helps to maintain the sealed back-end farm by transporting growing tray on to towers and out of the system. A seal farm can help ensure the health and safety of the crops and maximising efficiency in growing. For each robot, it can contain up to four trays at one time. Furthermore, a scissor lift was implemented for the robot to help ensure it can navigate up and down for maintenance.
Growing tray is the major focus of the project as it was important across different touchpoints. For this design, the tray can hold for up to 20 leafy green crops at one time. Each individual container pods can be removed as desired and as needed for large size crops. Furthermore, a water circulating system was designed to help the nutrition solutions circulate within the growing tower. Also, inward, and outwards water pipe has its own one-way valve to ensure the water will not leak as it was being moved to different touchpoints. The central design idea for the tray is simple to manufacture as each F-POS system may require up to hundreds of these trays. Therefore, all components in the tray can be either injection moulded, and blow moulded to lower the cost. Finally, each component can be stacked individually for saving space and make the assembly easier for farmers.
Jacob Ho is a passionate and motivated young designer who always like challenges. He is good at listening, high attention to details and analysing complex problems. His multi-cultural background enriches his design philosophy to design which fits for the user. He also has flexible skills to adapt to different scale of projects and the ability to finish the project with a high standard.