How the Convergence of Technologies Has Transformed Logistics in Agriculture
A decade is a tiny sliver the history of agriculture. But in the life of technology that same 10 years that visitor would have missed generations of change.
A decade ago the cloud meant the weather phenomenon hanging over a field. Today, a grower is just as likely talking about where the operation’s data is stored.
“There is a convergence of technology that allows these things to be reality,” explains Paul Welbig, Director of Slingshot Services and Logistics, the Ag Technology Division of Raven Industries. “Ten years ago, you didn’t always have connectivity in a field in most of the country. Now, you have an internet connection wherever you are.”
That connectivity gives operations managers the ability to plan, and schedule work around the farm, and it offers the ability to see where each vehicle is and what it’s doing.
Mobile devices have been around for many years now, but the ability to use them in the field is much more recent. Advancements to cloud connectivity and online data storage allow devices in every machine, in workers hands, and give an operations manager, instant insight to everything happening on farm. “Even if it was capable in the last 10 years, it wasn’t economical,” Welbig says.
Just over a year ago Raven added AgSync to its portfolio, which gave comprehensive scheduling, ordering, dispatch tools that operations managers can use to streamline and organize their daily workflows.
SSI (Software Solutions Integrated) recently released its second-generation tool kit. A mobile version of Agvance first came out about 10 years ago. “It was Windows based and provided the functionality our customers needed to schedule jobs and communicate to all the stakeholders, but we did have some limitations based on the platform we were in,” explains Dave Craft, VP Marketing for SSI.
The new software allows dispatchers to see not only where workers are, what jobs they’re working, and how the machines are performing, they can see other information such as weather. It allows managers to make decisions based on real-time information.
“Our logistics now is about communication and visualization,” said Andy Bullock, Product Manager, Dispatch Suite of Tools. “We saw the need for making the communication easier. Why that might not sound like logistics, it really is.”
Instead of a software solution that interprets data, Farmobile focuses on collecting and distributing that information. “The quicker you can get data it’s more valuable,” says Steve Cubbage, VP Services. “Farmobile created a piece of hardware it calls a puck, a data collection device, that can go into planters, combines — anything that is running across that field doing something agronomic and record it.”
It’s all part of the precision agriculture movement that started nearly 30 years.
“We’ve waited a long time to get the data out of the field wirelessly, beam it into the cloud and see it in real time,” Cubbage says. “We do that across all colors of equipment. We’re focused on getting data out because we realize our value is being able to send that data multiple places (i.e., insurance companies, financial institutions).”