Load Sensing and Position Monitoring in Wine Production

English wine has been improving more and more, thanks to British technologists and engineers who have been diligently creating new systems and auxiliaries for the vine-growing industry. In this article, Tony Ingham of Sensor Technology Ltd presents his astounding success story.

English wine has become popular, with an increasing number of people appreciating its award-winning quality and its production increasing every year. It was considered wise to avoid “British wine” a generation ago since they were merely blends of cheap wine usually from unidentified sources. However, over the years, enhancements in viniculture and a warming climate have led to the flourishing of a completely new industry. Currently, commercial vines are being grown throughout the United Kingdom, mainly in the south of England as well as in Wales and even Scotland.

Viniculturalists across the globe are aware of the fact that in the absence of treatment, major portions of any vine crop will regularly be lost to bacteria, fungi, and — the curse of the industry — mildew. The English growers are also aware that similar to all developing industries when there is an increase in production, the need for efficiency also increases.

Heli-Lift Services Uses Sensor Technology’s Spray-Treatment Method

Heli-Lift Services based in Oxfordshire has been setting a trend in the use of helicopters to spray-treat grapevines, with the help of technologies advanced by Sensor Technology. It started its services in the historical vineyards of Douro Valley, Portugal, where there was very little room for tractors and Heli-Lift soon recognized that aerial spraying was considerably more cost-effective and efficient compared to conventional, manual methods. At present, it is advancing its potentials to English vine-growers, who are all eager to further innovate and develop their industry on par with the global standards.

Sensor Technology’s HeliNav and LoadSense Sensors

The spraying rig used by Heli-Lift Services is designed such that its nozzles release exactly weighted droplets rapidly and evenly over the crop. In addition, the company has created a hydraulically stabilized Heli-Deck to enable easy refilling on sloping or rough ground. Even spray coverage is ensured by the pilots with the help of an advanced global positioning system (GPS) mapping device known as HeliNav LoadMaster in combination with a brilliant LoadSense weight sensor that not just monitors the usage of spray but also plots and records the progress with high precision.

LoadSense and HeliNav were created by Sensor Technology Ltd. LoadSense has been developed based on the wireless torque sensor from the company, which is fondly used by the industrial world. Helicopter operators opted for it since it is wireless, thereby avoiding the need to drill cable holes through the body panels of the aircraft, signifying that they can get recertified for airworthiness.

HeliNav LoadMaster was developed following the pilots’ request to Sensor Technology to link accurate GPS positioning with the load information, which would enable automated flight planning for optimized spray patterns.

Sensor Technology’s load sensing and position monitoring technology is typically simple but accurate to very fine tolerances. LoadSense integrates wireless signaling from Sensor Technology with a strain gauge Load Sensor. It has the potential to wirelessly transmit its data to a readout, displaying live readings as well as recording them to develop an exact profile of each operation. Its integrated 32 MBit memory has the ability to store up to 280 hours of data, which can be downloaded later to a PC through its USB cable.

The load sensor performs transmission using the global license-free frequency of 2.4 GHz using two intrinsic antennae. The cockpit-mounted readouts offer precise real-time information to the pilot in an easy-to-understand graphical format. The sensor also has the ability to directly transmit signals to handheld readouts, thereby allowing assistants on the ground to have the same live information.

HeliNav LoadMaster offers position information via an onboard GPS, accelerometer, and inclinometer and assists pilots to plot and follow flight paths and to monitor fuel requirements, flight times, and so on. Consequently, it renders even the most complicated spraying tasks efficient and effortless. Since the distance traveled and load weights are logged regularly, the helicopter operating company can offer the client with precise work reports and billing, as well as schedule maintenance in a timely manner.


Sensor Technology and other British companies are global pioneers in developing electronic sensing and data handling systems. Sensor Technology works in good collaboration with the English wine industry, which is similarly successful and creative.

Currently, there are more than 500 vineyards in Britain, of which the most northerly is located on the Shetland island of Unst, 1400 miles north of Bordeaux and only 400 miles south of the Arctic Circle. These vineyards produce 5,000,000 bottles of superior wine competing with the finest ones produced in Europe and the New World. These numbers have been rapidly increasing: In 2016, 1,000,000 new vines were planted, eventually producing nearly 2,000,000 bottles of wine, with people showing haste to join the industry or to further increase their current investments. Winbirri Bacchus from Norfolk has been elected as the best white wine in the world, and Sussex’s sparkling Nyetimber is similarly acclaimed.

This information has been sourced, reviewed and adapted from materials provided by Sensor Technology.

For more information on this source, please visit Sensor Technology.


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