Quadlink promotes smart aquaculture with AIoT, targeting opportunities in Southeast Asia
Sandy Du, DIGITIMES, Taipei

Quadlink started out as a fabless IC design house developing wireless communication chips, the manufacturing of which was outsourced to TSMC. Instead of competing head on against international semiconductor giants, Quadlink later decided to steer its course toward IoT systems with a focus on applications in fundamental industries such as agriculture and aquaculture. Through discussions with and guidance from Lee-Shing Fang, former director general, National Museum of Marine Biology and Aquarium and fish farming experts in Taiwan, Quadlink realized how valuable water quality monitoring systems are to the domestic fish farming industry and therefore set its heart on developing the Aquadlink Smart Aquaculture Application System.

According to Quadlink general manager Cheng-Hsun Tsai, combining wireless communication technologies and sensors, IoT solutions for smart applications have become the center of market attention. Focusing efforts on developing a smart water quality monitoring system, Quadlink has created its Aquadlink Smart Aquaculture Application System, which has been successfully deployed at fish farms to help owners and operators reduce unpredictable risks and minimize losses. In consideration of the fact that fish farms generally have large open spaces for solar panel installation, Quadlink designs the system to be powered by solar cells. The market responds more favorably to Aquadlink with the incorporation of green energy and power efficiency designs. Connecting to a cloud platform, Aquadlink reports fish pond water quality data every five minutes and can issue alerts to farm operators' mobile phone app, allowing them to stay on top of water conditions at all times and thereby effectively lower costs, risks and accidental losses.

Fish farmers in Taiwan often risk losing their fortune when extreme weather or natural disasters occur just before harvest season. The thought of helping fish farmers overcome such difficulties motivated Tsai's team to develop a system that monitors actual water quality in real-time to help fish farmers stay on top of pond conditions. Rather than relying on experiences or solutions passed down from one generation to the next, fish farmers can now harness the power of scientific data and build a smart aquaculture future.

Aquadlink is a name that reflects the company's hope that the system will help fish farmers connect resources. The system monitors water conditions in real time, collecting data such as dissolved oxygen to decide whether to turn on the aerator to enhance fish farming efficiency. Featuring a smart power distribution system named Smart Equipment Control System, it overcomes power distribution challenges at fish farms. Furthermore, Aquadlink is built in with 4G/LTE connectivity while supporting LoRa wireless communication. Hundreds of Aquadlink systems have been put to practical use since its launch in 2016.

Referencing a successful use case of Aquadlink, Tsai talked about a fish farm located in a smart fishing village in Hsinchu that raises white shrimp and mullet. The pond water level quickly rose by one-third due to a sudden downpour, causing a huge change to the pH value. On receiving an alert, the owner promptly decided to add probiotics into the pond to improve the water condition. Aquadlink played an instrumental role helping the fish farmer successfully handle the crisis.

Aquadlink is mainly used by fish farmers that target blue ocean market opportunities by raising species with differentiating values such as white shrimp, lobster, eel and rare grouper. Having used Aquadlink for an extended period of time, the fish farmers have accumulated a wealth of data throughout the breeding cycle, which becomes important reference. Aquadlink, capable of monitoring and predicting, serves as a crucial tool for aquafarm management. As emergencies at fishing ponds more often than not occur in the middle of the night, a smart aquaculture system is an indispensable aid to fish farmers.

Foraying first into Brunei and Indonesia

Aquadlink is available at a price that is only one-tenth of what an imported system costs, according to Tsai. Such a compelling cost advantage enables Aquadlink to successfully foray into Southeast Asia, where aquaculture is widespread and flourishing. Aquadlink is currently used to help manage 600 hectares of fishing ponds in Brunei, which is almost as big as the Hsinchu Science Park. The initial success is exciting. Thanks to overseas Chinese communities, Aquadlink's market footprint has now expanded to Sumatra in Indonesia, the Philippines and Myanmar with promising outlook for developments in Vietnam and Malaysia.

Quadlink will continue to enhance the algorithms for Aquadlink. It also plans to commercialize its technology of capturing clear underwater images while improving its product cost-performance ratio. Tsai expressed gratitude to the Ministry of Economic Affairs' Smart City Program for providing research funding that allowed Quadlink to complete its product R&D and launch on schedule. Going forward, Quadlink hopes to share Aquadlink's success with fish farmers. By offering Aquadlink at an affordable price and through subsidy programs, Quadlink endeavors to make Taiwan an exemplary application field for Aquadlink and drive a smart aquaculture future.

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