15 Minutes With… Sotiris Bantas, CEO Of Centaur Technologies
With the goal of developing an integrated framework for real-time detection, assessment, and mitigation of biological, chemical, and environmental contaminants throughout the food supply chain, the DiTECT project brings together research, industrial, and food authority partners representing the agro-food industry in the EU and China.
Greece-based startup Centaur Technologies seeks to end post-harvest crop losses, reclaiming the estimated $1 trillion of crop value wasted each year to improper storage and spoilage to “create” more food for the ever increasing world population.
According to co-founder, president, and CEO Sotiris Bantas, the Centaur Internet-of-Crops® Platform gives food and commodity industries an unprecedented capacity to track, monitor, and understand the quality of the world’s food when stored, transported, and delivered to shelves. With as much as 50 to 60 percent of cereal grains lost during storage, this new technology – which is based on smart wireless sensors, data analytics, and advanced modeling software – can address this challenge and reduce post-harvest losses.
We talked with Mr. Bantas at the project’s 1st year-end to see how is the DiTECT project evolving.
- The Centaur sensor is unique in that it provides wireless monitoring from inside the storage core to ensure end-to-end visibility of the supply chain. Can you please explain how this works and benefits the DiTECT project?
To achieve the most accurate readings, Centaur’s sensors have been engineered to sit within the grain mass in nearly any type of grain storage (silo, grain bags, grain piles, etc.). This is critically important because we view this as the only approach for users – whether farmers or elevator operators or even grain millers – to understand and predict in advance all of the potential quality and spoilage risks impacting the grain throughout storage as its transits the supply chain. Our sensors transmit readings wirelessly at regular intervals to our system, giving a full picture of how the grain is stored.
With the sensor inside the storage, we can detect very subtle changes. When coupled with our digital simulation capabilities of each storage bin, we use these small changes to determine what is happening throughout the entire grain mass. With very accurate readings in the right places, and incorporating other available information about the condition of the storage, such as location, weather, solar, and wind, this enables us to produce highly accurate digital models at thousands of points within the entire grain mass.
Traditional monitoring systems, such as silo cables or sampling, can do an adequate job of detecting the grain within an inch or two of the measurement. However, this is only a fraction of areas where problems and spoilage can occur in grain. A point-sampling approach is great if you are lucky enough to end up having a silo cable sensor hanging right next to the point where a hotspot develops. But, if not, major problems can go undetected.
With Centaur sensors, the DiTECT partners, where the pilots will take place can understand the grain condition at every point in the grain mass and know the risks faced in the weeks and months ahead. They will be able to use this real-time view in a modern way, accessing it via their mobile phone or computer, or integrating this information into their other planning systems.
- Food Safety and Food Security are supported ideally with this new predictive and cognitive technology. How has the product been used in DiTECT and driven results thus far?
DiTECT’s vision is to facilitate the creation of transparent and reliable national and international food supply chains, supported by state-of-the art authentication and traceability technologies, usable across the entire food chain. To accomplish this, 4 pilots were planned on a predefined set of food and food chains, corn (both as farm feed and raw material), cattle (including meat products and milk), poultry (including products), and fish. Centaur solutions will be used in 3 pilots: corn, cattle, and poultry, to closely monitor environmental contaminants such as fumigants and microclimatic conditions in the storage areas, such as CO2, O2, Temp. and Rel. Humidity. We are already preparing the necessary equipment for the cattle pilot, where Centaur sensors will be installed inside the silos of the partner Papadopoulos Bros, a cattle farm in Xanthi to monitor the storage conditions of the cattle feed.
- What is your expectation from the DiTECT project?
Using modern agricultural practices in the primary production (precision in agriculture), process analytical technologies (within the food industries) in combination with rapid and real-time monitoring devices and cloud enabled platform, with DiTECT we will be able to detect, assess, reduce and mitigate risks either existing or emerging at the various stages of the food chain including biological and chemical hazards, environmental and process contaminants, malpractices, fraud, and adulteration.
I believe that given the inter/multidisciplinary expertise of the partners and the international cooperation of the project we will achieve the ultimate goal of the holistic approach of DiTECT which is; to establish and demonstrate the technological foundations of the next-generation food safety monitoring platforms, through the development of a simple, “smart”, Big Data-driven platform, that will enable real-time predictions for different food product safety profiles.
ABOUT SOTIRIS BANTAS
Bantas is co-founder, president, and CEO of Centaur. He is experienced in bringing technology startups to multi-million dollar global accounts, as he did for his prior software company, Helic, Inc. He holds a PhD. In microelectronics and a degree in electrical engineering from the National Technical University of Athens.