Aquaponics Leaning Factory (AllFactory)
is a learning factory for "Aquaponics 4.0" directed & founded by Dr. Rafiq Ahmad. The Aquaponics Learning Factory (AllFactory), started in 2016, provides a unique Factory-in-a-lab transdisciplinary research, training, and learning environment to investigate Aquaponics 4.0 systems. Aquaponics is a vertical farming method and is a new sustainable farming technique that uses stacked layers of plants to improve plant yield per unit area while also reducing required resources. Compared to conventional farming, vertical farming can result in a 70% reduction in water and fertilizer consumption per plant produced. Aquaponics is a combination between aquaculture (farming of fish) and hydroponics (growing plants without soil), being a technique to grow plants with the aquaculture effluent. This technique claims to have a high water efficiency, is pesticide-free, and reduces the use of fertilizers. All in all this technology is considered green and sustainable. This learning factory revolves around the production systems focusing on vertical farming and more specifically sustainable environmentally friendly Aquaponics4.0 systems and processes. The target systems provide effective designs, tools and methods for the growth of various selected crops, i.e. lettuce and/or basil, in an automated aquaponic system that is distributed between two different locations.
The impact of AllFactory is divided into two major areas:
Topics for Research:
The Aquaponics Learning Factory enables high-end research in both engineering and education, as well as automation, production, and systems in the aquaponics domain. On the one hand, the transdisciplinary approach to aquaponics system design and education prepared for this learning factory based on Bloom's taxonomy allows for a comparative analysis between serious games (gamification), experiential learning and cognitive sciences. These tasks will be performed by professors, industry professionals, schoolteachers, and groups of students alike. On the other hand, research on the area of novel automation and Industry 4.0 applications to the aquaponics concept is enabled using the learning factory concept proposed. Technologies such as digital twins, IoT networks, intelligent decision making, sustainability, robotics, knowledge modelling, and autonomous systems, can be developed, tested, and validated in this environment.
Topics for Training and Education:
The Aquaponics Learning Factory, AllFactory is also meant to be used as a training facility for the aquaponics industry. For a manual labour-intensive industry, this learning factory allows professionals to train on different Industry 4.0 technologies such as automation, digital twins, connectivity, robotics, and new management approaches to the aquaponics concept. The proposed system shall train and educate personnel to develop low-cost (conventional) and highly productive (novel, Aquaponics4.0) systems.