Can you better manage a herd of dairy cows without adding a single worker to the barn?
And in vegetable farming: can you predict the appearance of spores in a lettuce greenhouse and prevent them by adjusting temperature and humidity? Always without adding labor, of course… This is what Axceta does, aiming to “push existing systems further.”
This means the team will use objects already in place but maximize their reach by more efficiently analyzing what they tell us. For example, in agriculture, the specialty of the SME, this could mean using devices that measure the humidity or even cameras that observe animals in a building, analyzing their data to then detect a disease before it spreads on a large scale.
The shortage of qualified labour hits the agricultural industry hard.
An experienced farmer will quickly notice something wrong with his herd or even with a single animal, explains Francois Roy, who co-founded Axceta in 2017. But if an employee who doesn’t have this expertise is feeding the chickens or pigs that morning, this detail may escape him.
Precision agriculture is more advanced in vegetable farming than in livestock in Quebec, explains part of the Axceta team that met in Montreal on June 19. That same Monday, Quebec announced a $175 million investment to promote its food autonomy, including increasing productivity through better equipment. This is exactly what Axceta does: doing more and better with fewer people.
Time is of the essence, notes Sherif Zaroubi, CEO of Axceta. “When we talk about robots and agriculture, we think of slaughterhouses,” he says. “We have a very dehumanized view of it. All we want to do is remove the noise from the heads of our farmers.”
Sometimes, it’s as simple as making prediction models from on-site sensor data. Models could prevent disease and manage the distribution of nutrients and pesticides in the plant world and food and supplements in the animal world. And that definitely takes a lot of noise out of a farmer’s head.
“It makes farms smarter,” summarizes Sherif Zaroubi.
Axceta is not only present in the agricultural sector. It is a technology company that makes connections between data and its interpretation. It is also interested in the mining and energy industries. It has worked with Hydro-Quebec on optimizing the Hilo system.
We often work in silos in technology, and people in these segments do not necessarily speak the same language, explains Sherif Zaroubi. Hence, the importance of making connections.
And the future?
Axceta, a service company, also wanted to develop a product.
In its desire to work with the agricultural sector, the team has developed a system that accurately calculates the quantity of grain in a silo.
“We wondered if our clients had product ideas they couldn’t build,” explains Sherif Zaroubi. That’s how this small ultrasonic sensor was born. Mills can thus monitor the evolution of stocks and better manage their deliveries. They know who will need what to maximize stocks precisely, intelligently, and efficiently. The best way to develop a product is with your customer. – Sherif Zaroubi, CEO of Axceta
The SME already works with two mills here and aims for American customers.
Axceta, with 28 employees, has developed a new subsidiary to market its products because it is one of the growth avenues for the company.