ABP, partners working on a grain monitoring bot


Associated British Ports, Crover to further develop a grain-monitoring robot to enhance workplace safety.


Associated British Ports (ABP), the UK’s largest port operator, has teamed up with Crover Ltd, the creator of a ‘grain-swimming‘ robot, to further develop and pilot the grain-monitoring robot to enhance workplace safety and enhance grain storage.

Partners of the project include Camgrain, Holkham Farming Company and Morley Farms.

The ‘CROVER’ robot is the first robotic device able to ‘swim’ or move with minimal effort through grains stored in bulk, such as wheat, barley and oilseeds held in storage and is intended to enable farmers and grain storage operators to improve the health and safety of their grain storage and transport operations.

The prototype, which is being tested at ABP’s Port of Ayr in Scotland, is aimed at helping maintain grain quality during long-term storage, reduce energy costs from cooling and aeration, and avoid unnecessary chemical interventions. In turn, this is expected to reduce grain claims and rejections, labour costs from integrated rated pest management (IPM) grain storage operations.

Checking the moisture levels of piles of grain was a manual process, which is both time-consuming and produces varying degrees of accuracy. It also increased the risk of avalanches when operatives had to climb up a stack of grain to take readings on moisture and heat.

By deploying a specialized robot to perform these tasks workplace safety is increased because the robot has the ability to ‘climb’ to the top of a tall pile of grain and insert a metal rod vertically, which helps monitor the levels with a significant level of precision and eliminates the need for a manual process.

“Safety is a core value for ABP and because our ports naturally bring a wide variety of businesses across the supply chain together, they are ideal innovation hubs for developing tools and systems to enable safer workplace practices,” Duncan Welberry, ABP Head of IT Business Partnering, Data & Analytics, said.

“This grain-monitoring bot is the latest addition to our smart tech devices, which include drones, wearables and more. We are excited about this collaboration and look forward to seeing what lessons it can reveal for the wider farming and grain storage industry.”

“Being part of the creative R&D process is always immensely rewarding. The idea to integrate the CROVER robot was born by developing a deep understanding both of our customers’ challenges but also the situations our colleagues in operations deal with everyday. I am proud that we have been recognised and rewarded a grant which will further accelerate innovation in this space,” Connor Lyons, ABP Business Innovation Lead, commented.

The project has been awarded £335K by Innovate UK as part of the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs’ (Defra)’s Farming Innovation Programme (FIP) fund.

“We are delighted to have won this funding with ABP and are grateful to have a partner with the space, operations and vision to help us test this tool in a realistic environment and refine its capabilities,” Dr. Lorenzo Conti, Crover Founder & Managing Director, said.