Digital Dirt

Digital Dirt

Developing technology for more efficient mass transportation

Programme: Mechanical Engineering

Course: Thesis

Corporate partner: Volvo CE

Challenge: With digital technologies, we may enable stakeholders to take on greater responsibility for the environmental impact of construction, where they can track material from “rock to road” and integrate the flow of information into the construction factory, and enable a sustainability perspective. What if the user could track valuable material on its way through the process and through logistics without losing track of its origin, owner, emission level, energy consumption, to name a few novel properties, a digital blockchain of dirt? What if the user could use the digital thread of material, formerly known as dirt, to repurpose it and mine it once again from urban landscape and thus save the bedrock?

Solution: The solution is called DNES and is an integrated platform that uses distributed sensors and beacons to provide valuable data to a broad group of key people in the construction industry. DNES allows tracking materials on and off construction sites and other relevant areas that suit users, being both individuals and companies linked to the sale, purchase, and transportation of materials. The solution facilitates tracking and minimizes paperwork because the solution makes it possible to save all data in one place that everyone connected to material handling can take part in. That makes the solution universal and can be used between companies, ensuring that they handle materials per laws, rules, and requirements.

Prototypes: The device is designed to be screwed in the soil pile in order to read the moisture level of the soil. The moisture sensor is stabilized inside the anchor and is capable of sending reliable moisture data. The soil can be pushed inside the probe and around the sensor to get moisture readings. The beacon can be pinged using the software, which causes the RGB light emitting diodes (LEDs) ring to light up in a circular animation, which helps communicate which beacon is being inspected. A blue ring of LEDs lights up in a circular animation when the beacon is successfully connected with the probe. Other light indicators include a white and red LEDs indicating the beacon is in stand-by mode, a white and blue LEDs indicating stationary mode, and a white and green LEDs indicating transport mode. The NFC tag is readable using mobile phones with NFC readers, which points the user to the specific beacon information related to the material pile on the MVP website (software). The MVP´s software was built from knowledge and code from earlier prototypes, with some additional functionality. The software has two interfaces, a web interface used by the sales coordinator and the truck coordinator to add and monitor orders and an app interface for the person on-site to initiate and confirm delivery. The app and the website were built around the same log-in and registration system where each company must be verified and registered separately. After a company is registered, employees can register to that company in the app/website.

Quotes from sponsor/partner: “I would like to highlight the fact that BTH and Stanford went beyond the User research and developed a physical beacon and a digital application that interfaces with the end users. In my view, innovation is not just about ideas and research, but execution is paramount and I liked how they translated the need into tangible elements. Furthermore, the lines between mechanical and digital are becoming blurred and for every physical product there is a digital companion that evolves with it, and I believe that was a good insight from the work that this team did.” – Fredy Daza, Director of Innovation Lab US at Volvo Group

Project team: Mohammed Ali Hussein,  Joel Wirén, Mechanical Engineering, class of 2015. Joakim Gylleneiden, Mechanical Engineering, class of 2016.