Is the number of computers and digital systems in use on your farm continuing to grow? If it is, you’re part of a growing trend in agriculture. And the value of being able to control all those systems and transfer data seamlessly between them using a common infrastructure is likely becoming pretty apparent to you.
Lately, that need has been noticed by the major equipment manufacturers and technology providers. In response, last year we saw several mobile apps hit the market designed to provide on-the-go access to, and control of, some systems.
But perhaps most notably, John Deere’s introduction of its FarmSight strategy in 2011, which provides an all-encompassing infrastructure for farmers to control and integrate data within a wide-ranging package of Deere-produced software, has tackled the full-integration concept head on.
FarmSight gives producers a full suite of John Deere integrated software and technology capable of managing most aspects of a commercial farm that is controlled from a single platform. Combining Deere machinery and FarmSight digital management software provides a totally integrated system.
But as of last July, Deere isn’t the only one blending a fully-integrated digital strategy into its machinery fleet offering. That’s when AGCO announced it too is working on a comparable infrastructure that will give farmers looking for full digital integration another option.
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Called Fuse Technologies, the AGCO platform aims to pursue a universal integration strategy, which means it will optimize digital compatibility between AGCO products and all other software from all machinery and technology brands. The idea is it will take a common engineering approach and allow for enhanced equipment control and data sharing between equipment and products from most major manufacturers.
With Fuse Technologies, AGCO is hoping to pique the interest of those who are looking for the same level of digital integration that Deere’s FarmSight offers, but who still want to run a mixed-brand fleet.
“A lot of customers out there have been pretty candid with us,” says Matt Rushing AGCO vice president of product management Global ATS and Electronics Functional Group. “They want to keep their options open. They don’t want to be limited to what they can buy. They want to continue working with the people they know and trust. They don’t want to be channelled into buying one brand or one colour.”
“We want to make sure the farmer out there that uses our (digital) product or services still has the ability to connect with people or products he trusts and uses,” he continues. “I think that’s a key element of what we’re trying to do.”
Within the electronics sector there have been ongoing engineering efforts to standardize ag software systems for several years now. The result is many digital systems used in agriculture are now moving toward a common architecture, which makes is possible for AGCO to develop a platform like Fuse.
“It seems like a tall order until you start to look at what’s being done in the industry and what’s being done in technology development,” explains Rushing. “They (industry organizations) are developing ways and standards that we can use to do this that aren’t going to make it so hard for individual OEMs and manufacturers.”
Since that “heads up” announcement from AGCO in July about its the Fuse Technologies development path, the brand made a major announcement in November. That’s when it revealed AgCommand, AGCO’s telematics platform, could be integrated with Raven’s Slingshot system, which is the type of cross-brand integration Rushing said the company would be focusing on.
“The ability to integrate AgCommand and Slingshot will provide growers with a more seamless experience by enabling their fleet and data management tools to sync together via the AgCommand website,” reads the November press release from AGCO.
A month later, AGCO announced the launch of a customer support centre called the Fuse Contact Center. It was created to assist customers with setup, calibration and operation of AGCO precision agriculture and machine communication technology products. Customers can call in during hours of operation to talk to a tech expert. AGCO expects to have email and online live-chat capabilities available soon.
“…We have a strategy we’re implementing now to ensure customers can believe we’re on the right path, can start to see where we’re going and our focus on this type of technology,” says Rushing.