Whenever a customer needs support in being more energy efficient – we can help with a proven solution that delivers the right insights to the relevant decision-makers.
Head of Business Development
In the Austrian chapter of Microsoft’s acclaimed partner awards for 2022, the company named Tietoevry at its number-one sustainability partner in the country. Tietoevry Austria also won the sustainability category in the prestigious IT business eAward 2022 competition.
The partners’ flagship project brings Tietoevry’s analytics capability together with Microsoft’s Azure cloud technology, to help Austrian grape farmers tackle the perils of late-season frost.
One of the effects of climate change is that vines now bloom earlier in the spring than before. The first grapes used to appear in April or May – now they start showing as early as March.
The challenge is that winter can still reappear at night, spreading frost on the vines to devastating effect. A single frost event can kill off an entire season’s harvest. It’s estimated that frost damage cost Austrian vineyards and fruit orchards some EUR 70 million in 2017. Insurance organization Österreichische Hagelversicherung estimated the loss to be as high as EUR 200 million in 2016.
“To tackle this threat to their livelihood Austrian fruit farmers employ some extreme countermeasures,” says Lukas Keller, Head of Advisory and Marketing Lead at Tietoevry Austria. “Frost events are expected, so the farmers often drive around their vineyards at night – even covering hundreds of kilometres in a week – to measure temperature by hand at different points.”
“When potential for frost is detected, paraffin-burning candles are placed on the ground to keep the area warm. In larger areas under threat of frost the farmers will even call helicopters in to fly over their fields and swirl away the cold air,” says Keller.
All these practices are expensive, ecologically unsustainable, and cause huge personal and financial distress to the affected farmers. Some cannot even afford to take such countermeasures; covering a single hectare with paraffin candles costs approximately EUR 1 000 per hour.
In a bid to find a viable solution to this challenge – the risk of which is increasing each year – a working group called ARGE FrostStrat brought Austria’s Ministry of Agriculture and several academic institutions together with Tietoevry and Microsoft.
Sensors were placed around the vineyards of 21 farmers in the area of Wachau, one of the most famous wine regions of Austria. Some of the sensors – which measure temperature, humidity, wind speed and topography – are buried in the ground, while others are attached to the trellises upon which the vines grow.
Data collected from the sensors is sent to the cloud and combined with real-time weather-forecast information. AI-based algorithms are then used to predict the timing and location of frost events. When an event is set to occur, the farmer receives a push notification through an app.
“By pinpointing the location and the timing of a frost event, our technology saves farmers from driving around and doing a lot of expensive manual work,” says Keller. “The farmer can set the critical minimum temperature value per vineyard, and then receive a notification immediately when the AI believes that value will be reached. This helps the farmers to act very locally.”
Tietoevry and Microsoft have also been cooperating in a pilot project with BILLA Austria, which operates over 1 200 stores across the country. As for any large retailer, the company must ensure optimal operation of these stores with reasonable effort and streamlined costs.
Many in-store tasks require energy, maintenance and servicing, so the goal of the project was to create a system and an open platform where data from all kinds of technical systems can converge, and where data silos are avoided.
Tietoevry and its Austrian partner Beckhoff Automation developed a scalable IoT solution that integrates all of a supermarket’s electrical loads via standard and trade-specific data interfaces.
In a study of one benchmark BILLA store, the partners combined all energy-generation and consumption data – from the ovens, lights, cooling systems, and Photovoltaic cells on the roof – into a single dashboard. This allows BILLA to compare energy usage across different metrics, receive automatic warnings in order to spot peaks, and identify areas for improvement.
“One of the biggest topics for companies right now is how to tackle energy costs, and of course reduce carbon,” says Keller. “With this pilot BILLA has much more information as a basis for defining its energy-consumption and carbon-reduction initiatives.”
“Together with Microsoft we have established ourselves as sustainability thought leaders in the Austrian market,” says Keller. “Whenever a customer has challenges to get their sustainability initiatives and ideas off the ground – and needs support in being more energy efficient – we can help with a proven solution that delivers the right insights to the relevant decision-makers.”
Read more about our sustainability work and how we help to create purposeful technology that reinvents the world for good.
This case is published in our annual report 2022 – read the whole report here.