Telematics let farmers and dealers peer into the future, fix today

Brady Jack can see what the problem is, or if there is going to be one. From a machinery dealer’s perspective, that will lead to happier farmers and hopefully continued sales.

“Provided they want us to, we can be ahead of the alerts and be more efficient with a farmer’s time,” said the Deere specialist with AgLand in Vermillion, Alta.

Telematics have been available for nearly two decades, in one form or another, from monitoring machine movement with a geo-fence alert in the old days or just being sure it is moving in the field, to full-on machine diagnostics that can put a producer sitting at her desk in the farm office right in the tractor’s seat.

That ability to use telematic tools wasn’t as rapidly adopted as some of the other precision ag tools, such as guidance, but as farm sizes grow, and staffing along with them, the need to manage fleets, similar to construction or transportation industries, is not lost on producers or their machinery dealers.

“We keep hearing from farmers that they need to be in two places at once and ahead of the game, and this helps us get them there,” said Jack, who works with the new Connected Support offering from John Deere.

Brian Orwig of Deere manages that program and the company’s set of telematics tools in North America.

He said dealers have helped to drive the demand for expanded telematics access to producers’ equipment, and many farmers using the company’s recent equipment offerings in Western Canada have been embracing the opportunity to have their dealers be able to “jump in the cab with them before anybody starts logging mileage to have a look an issue.”

For Jack, it not only makes the dealership’s technicians more efficient, but it saves producers money and time.

“Using the (Remote Display Access), often we can have a look at a problem and have a solution without leaving the dealership. If we need to come out, then we know what parts and what we are looking at before we leave,” he said.

“At the same time we are also looking at other alerts and what scheduled maintenance is coming up and we can suggest changing a belt or filter in that same trip, rather than doing it two weeks later with a separate trip,” he said.

“With COVID, farmers aren’t looking for any additional contacts with people, so the Connected (Support) is timely too.”

The Connected Support feature is handled through JD Link access, and comes with new machines and is initiated if the farmer wants it. It is available for 2014-year equipment with existing technology in the machines and can be added to 2011-13 gear with a kit. It is connected through producers’ MyJohnDeere accounts and at dealers’ Operations Centre accounts.

The process is more than an alert-based notification, such as a sensor replacement, abnormal heating or low pressure readings. Orwig said the tool looks at a complex set of factors and readings coming from the machines and then analyzes them with algorithms programmed to detect trends or early-warning signs of problems before they happen.

These expert alerts come to the dealership’s technicians, and they can then reach out to producers, letting them know that something might need attention or at least ground-truthing.

“We are helping farmers avoid a repair bill,” he said.

Jack said the distance to some of their customers has been growing as dealerships serve larger and larger areas each year, so travel times are becoming larger efficiency issues for dealers as well as farmers.

“Before we head out from Lloydminster to see a customer in Meadow Lake, having a look at the machine with RDA can make it a better day for everyone,” he said.

Orwig said the telematics tools can do more than predict issues. Farmers can also use them to benchmark performance between machines and get feedback from dealers — who are seeing their entire client base — about how their machines are comparing to others in the region.

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