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Durable Touch Sensing Solution Selected For Greenhouse Management Hardware

30 April 2014

Projected Capacitive Technology once again proves its suitability for deployment in difficult working environments.

Leading manufacturer and supplier of heavy duty touch sensors Zytronic, through its Eastern European distribution partner Elatec, has landed another major design win for its Projective Capacitive Technology (PCT™). Hungarian systems developer AENSys has chosen PCT as the basis for its latest product - a data acquisition and workflow monitoring tool, which it is now rolling out across the continent.

AENSys’ Gremon is a highly sophisticated and adaptable business management system designed for use in commercial greenhouses, with a series of control modules positioned at various points throughout such buildings. In addition to basic time recording of employees, it allows numerous parameters, like quantity/quality of harvested crop, crop yield and the presence of pests (including pest species and their locations) to all be logged in order for detailed analysis to be undertaken which will improve overall efficiency and reduce costs.

Collated data can help to determine the plants’ state of health and help to accurately calculate when activities such as harvesting or pesticide treatments should be scheduled, as well as better balancing employee workloads. The time spent on specific tasks (planting, pruning, etc.) can be monitored and resources correctly allocated. The graphical user interfaces (GUIs) for each control module in the system utilize a 7-inch version of Zytronic’s highly popular ZYPOS® touch sensor, as it exhibited all the key attributes required.

The rugged touch sensor specified for this application needed to address several significant technical challenges. Firstly, it had to be able to respond to touches from users wearing latex gloves and function when dirty. Secondly, it had to support a smooth-fronted design that would be easy to wipe down. Finally, it had to be capable of handling heavy use, frequent knocks, scratches and accidental impacts.

As PCT™ touch sensors rely on an intricate matrix of ultra-thin (only 10µm in diameter) copper capacitor elements embedded into a laminated substrate, they are completely safeguarded from harm. The substrate containing the capacitor matrix can be placed behind another glass or polycarbonate overlay to offer further protection to the touch display, as in the AENSys application. The robust construction of PCT sensors means that they are practically invulnerable to heavy impacts, scratches, and vibrations, as well exposure to harsh chemicals or extreme temperatures.

“We investigated a number of different touch sensing solutions from leading vendors, but Zytronic’s PCT stood out as the best option, due its combination of strong touch performance and rugged construction,” states Attila Bilicki, Managing Director at AENSys. “Furthermore, we were impressed by the high level technical support the company offered, as this proved to be invaluable in getting the project completed on time.”

“The Gremon system provides greenhouse managers with a much greater degree of visibility, presenting them with all the information they need for measuring the effectiveness of their operation. Processes can be analyzed resulting in improvements to productivity levels. It also means that employees can quickly report pests and diseases so that appropriate action can be taken,” adds Ian Crosby, Sales & Marketing Director at Zytronic. ”The use of PCT touch sensors in this system further underlines the superiority of our technology in even the most challenging environments.”

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