Schneider Electric Announces Partnership To Help Endangered Galapagos Giant Tortoise Species

Schneider Electric has announced its partnership with Automated Control Logic on a conservation project to restore Galapagos giant tortoise species to their natural habitat.

Known as gentle giants, Galapagos giant tortoises are herbivores that often reach more than 500 pounds. Before humans arrived on the Galapagos Islands, approximately 250,000 tortoises are thought to have lived there, but today, only an estimated 20,000 survive.

Together, the Galapagos National Park Directorate and Galapagos Conservancy embarked on a program, the Galapagos Tortoise Restoration Initiative, to restore giant tortoise populations to their historical distribution and numbers. The project is supported by the Roosevelt Wild Life Station.

The gender of a tortoise is determined by the temperature of incubation, with females developing at slightly higher temperatures. In order to restore these species, tortoise experts and Galapagos National Park rangers can speed up the process by collecting eggs from wild nests, and then bringing them into captivity for incubation and rearing until they are of a sufficient size to better survive in the wild at approximately five years old. By controlling the number of eggs incubated at the two temperatures, more female than male tortoises can be produced, which will eventually increase reproduction in the wild once these tortoises reach maturity. Therefore, it is vital to ensure that tortoise eggs are incubated at the designated temperatures.

Redesigning Incubation Systems

Before enlisting the help of Automated Control Logic, the incubator heat delivery system used in the Galapagos National Park Tortoise Centers was a single hair dryer in each incubator, controlled by a thermostat. While used for well over a decade, this is an imprecise way to control the temperature of the incubators, and so the heat delivery system made it difficult to assure the sex of the tortoise hatchlings. Equipment breakdowns could also cause unhealthy temperature fluctuations.

The Galapagos Tortoise Restoration Initiative, through SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry in Syracuse, N.Y., reached out to Automated Control Logic to redesign its incubator heat delivery system using Schneider Electric technology in order to deliver on the mission of the restoration project. Automated Control Logic, a certified EcoXpert BMS partner, was selected for its expertise in heating systems and controls, as well as its partnership with Schneider Electric. EcoXpert partners are trained and certified on the IoT-enabled EcoStruxure architecture and platform from Schneider Electric. The mission of the program is to connect expertise, ignite growth and enable success for its EcoXpert partner companies, because together they deliver quality services and solutions to customers all over the world.

Next-Generation Heating Systems and Controls

Using Schneider Electric technology, Automated Control Logic designed a heat delivery system to control the temperature in the tortoise incubators so that the Galapagos National Park and Galapagos Conservancy personnel could adjust it to ensure that eggs experienced stable development and to produce a higher percentage of females than males.

As part of the final designs, Automated Control Logic used Schneider Electric’s i2-867 controllers that were custom programmed to regulate the incubation temperature, allowing for the exact incubation controls. The heating system also included back-up heat sources in case of outages, ensuring that the tortoise eggs were protected at all times.

Re-populating the Species

Due to Automated Control Logic’s instalment of the heating systems, the Galapagos Tortoise Restoration Initiative team expect that 5,000 – 10,000 hatchling tortoises will be hatched from these incubators over the next two decades. This will increase the current global population of Galapagos giant tortoises by 25 percent in just one generation.

“We are proud of this conservation work. Through increasing the hatching success and female population of Galapagos giant tortoises, we are helping to secure the future of these species and preserving the biodiversity of the islands,” says Preston Bruenn, founder and president of Automated Control Logic, Roosevelt Wild Life Station Honorary Advisory Council Member and SUNY ESF alumnus. “Being an EcoXpert partner has helped us to deliver work we are proud of. The training we receive on Schneider Electric’s rollout of products and EcoStruxure technology ensures that we stay at the forefront of the industry.”

“Coupling the innovation behind EcoStruxure Building with the integration expertise of our EcoXperts lets us design and build solutions for our customers. We are delighted to be part of such an important conservation project,” says Benjamin Murphy, director, Northeast Partners Business at Schneider Electric.

“The egg incubation stage is a short but important pinch point in the long life cycles of giant tortoises. Automated Control Logic has developed a system based around Schneider Electric technology that ensures successful egg hatching. The systems are functioning in the Galapagos situation which includes many daily power surges, frequent outages and limited opportunity to find replacement parts,” states Dr. James Gibbs, director of the Roosevelt Wild Life Station and co-director of the Giant Tortoise Restoration Initiative.

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