At a media briefing at New Holland’s North American headquarters in Pennsylvania last July, marketing managers updated journalists on the brand’s then-pending expansion of its PLM Connect telematics offering. The official public introduction was made at the U.S. Farm Progress Show in August.
At the company’s test facility, Jordan Milewski, brand marketing manger, gave members of the media a practical demonstration of what PLM Connect was now capable of with the addition of two-way communication and real-time data transfer. As a Speedrower operated on the facility’s nearby test track, Milewski’s computer screen showed a “virtual dashboard” of its engine monitoring screen, complete with RPM readouts and data from other essential systems. We could all see the Speedrower movements change as the operator responded to email commands Milewski sent to him.
The two-way communication ability of PLM Connect now not only allows for commands to be sent to a machine operator, it also includes wireless transfer of data from the machine — such as yield information — back to a farm office via the cloud.
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“In the past, a constraint of using PLM technology has been the cumbersome process of transporting the data from the field back to the farm or crop consultant and back to the field using USB drives,” said Dan Valen, New Holland’s Cash Crop Segment marketing manager. “The new cloud-based transfer system will allow producers to access data more efficiently.”
PLM Connect has what the industry calls an “open architecture”, meaning the telematics system is designed to work with a mixed-brand fleet. New Holland is also providing a 24/7 customer support help line farmers can call if they run into trouble with the system.
New Holland staff went out of their way to emphasize that farmers will own their data and no one will be able to access it without consent. But if farmers do want to share some of it with other people, such as an agronomist, the system can be configured to allow limited access by authorized persons.
What services each farmer can take advantage of with their own PLM Connect system will depend on what level of service they’ve opted to purchase.
“It will be a subscription-based service,” said Milewski. “There are two levels, the Essential and the Professional.”
On Milewski’s computer, PLM Connect also provided a map during the demonstration to show the location of all machines sync’d to that fleet, demonstrating how a large farm could keep track of all its machines in real time. And with the real-time virtual dashboard, a farm manager or owner can see how efficiently each machine is being run — or if it’s running at all — providing another management tool.
“This real-time information, it’s the power of this (PLM Connect),” he said. “We all have smart phones today. How would we do without them? Not so well. This is that kind of technology in the hands of the farmer.” †