The world’s population is predicted to grow to 10 billion by 2050 – leading to a 70% increase in food demand. But agricultural land is in short supply. A team of experienced engineers from Tokyo have come together to form PLANTX, an agricultural technology – or agritech – startup that is aiming to realize a sustainable food supply and a safer and healthier diet than ever before through plant factories.
PLANTX’s ‘closed-type’ plant factory – named the ‘Culture Machine’ – is sealed and features more precise environmental control than conventional plant factories. This setup allows for precise control over the growing environment and stable, highly reproducible cultivation. It is also possible to set the optimum environment for multiple plant species individually. The result is a highly efficient and sustainable way of producing food.
Since its inception, PLANTX’s founders have harnessed many technologies often used in manufacturing, including advanced process control systems. Today it engineers and runs its own Culture Machines and also offers planning, design and operational support for customers looking to implement their own plant factories.
As the scale of PLANTX’s business expanded, so did the scale of data devices and data handled. With their existing system having difficulty adequately handling the management of a complex assembly consisting of over 10,000 parts, the PLANTX engineering team knew they needed another solution that’s future-proof to help them work together more efficiently. They sought a collaborative environment for engineering that would help them improve reliability, traceability, and productivity.
PLANTX chose to implement Dassault Systèmes’ industry solution experience Digital Equipment Continuity on the 3DEXPERIENCE Cloud platform to handle mechanical design, data sharing and traceability management.
The 3DEXPERIENCE platform’s collaborative workspace enables PLANTX engineers to work together to create a full digital mock-up of their innovative solution, consisting of thousands of complicated parts that include various sensors, as well as complex piping and lighting components.
Our goal is to realize a food production system that is environmentally friendly, sustainable and resilient to climate change, while providing more delicious, safe, and healthy food by harnessing the potential of plant factories. To achieve these goals, it is important to have manufacturing technologies that enable advanced control of the cultivation environment conditions that affect plant growth.
We expect that the 3DEXPERIENCE cloud platform will enable multiple engineers to share information and develop products without waste.
With the 3DEXPERIENCE platform, PLANTX has a single solution to connect their design and engineering disciplines. With CATIA, engineers can work together effectively and efficiently, handling complex assemblies with ease while collaborating more effectively.
Improved change management processes have led to full traceability since all modifications are captured. Meanwhile, better BOM management empowers product engineers to create and maintain complete, accurate and up-to-date bills of materials, delivering the reliability, traceability and productivity benefits that PLANTX was looking for.
All of this optimization paves the way for a successful future in agricultural technology for the company. Being able to expand and access apps and online services as needed, PLANTX expects to adopt the 3DEXPERIENCE platform’s advanced modeling capabilities to further improve the temperature, water flow and air flow of its Culture Machines in a digital environment.
Meanwhile, the company has plans to use the platform to help develop an advanced resource recycling food supply system to support long-term occupancy on the moon. This follows on from PLANTX’s participation in the Space Foodsphere program, an initiative designed to accelerate research and development around terrestrial food production.
By using advanced manufacturing technologies, PLANTX is unleashing the potential of plant factories. The company has developed its own closed-type cultivation equipment that enables precise control of cultivation environment conditions, including temperature, humidity and carbon dioxide concentration, as well as photosynthesis rate and water absorption rate. This means it can solve the problems of conventional plant factories – such as low productivity relative to investment cost, unstable production during continuous operation and low capacity to cultivate multiple varieties of plants – in one fell swoop.
PLANTX's technology will enable the widespread use of plant factories with values such as stable year-round cultivation unaffected by weather conditions and a production system based on local production for local consumption.