As precision farming dealers, how are you meeting the needs of your farm customers to integrate different brands of precision equipment on their machinery, and what could manufacturers do to help solve compatibility issues?
Answers: (pt. 1 and pt. 2)
“It is very difficult to keep up with product compatibility even within one brand. I always try components here in the shop to make sure they communicate with each other before they are given to customers.
“In the case of multiple brand hookups, I will only do them with ample time between install date and the date needed, so if there are issues, we have time to solve them. I also do my research beforehand so I don't waste my time on something that has been proven to be incompatible.
“Many manufacturers claim things are compatible, but when installed, they do only 80% of functions properly. I like selling our products on competitive machines when it is a complete system. When it is a mix there are always some issues.
“If you have monitor brand ‘A’ running planter brand ‘B’ and something quits working, who's problem is it? Dealer personnel probably don’t know enough about both products, and how many competitive dealerships are willing to work hand-in-hand in a situation like this? In a lot of cases, they will blame other components and the farmer is left in the dark. As time goes by, because of customer demand, these components will work together flawlessly. Where we are now, I believe an extra monitor in the cab may solve more problems then it causes.”
— Darren Bald, Great Lakes New Holland,
“At this point it’s a little difficult to mix and match precision farming technology to different color machines unless you go with a standalone technology manufacturer like Trimble, Ag Leader, Raven, etc.
“To integrate our customers’ operations, we are taking more of a customized solutions approach for each operation. We have a lot of customers that have multicolored fleets and have accumulated a certain amount of precision farming products over the years. The equipment still works and they would like to continue to get use out of it with their new iron and not spend a fortune.
“So what we wind up doing is going out to a farm and looking at what the grower has for equipment and technology, and figure out what he is trying to do. With our knowledge of multiple platforms and generations of precision equipment, we come up with an affordable and effective solution. Every single deal tends to be just a little bit different.
“What manufacturers could do is use a common protocol on their equipment and controllers (ISO compliance is taking us there to an extent) so that everything is plug and play (receivers, displays, corrections etc.). I understand they want to have every customer be brand pure — and trust me most dealers want that too — but until that happens, or everyone is on a common platform, our jobs and those of parts personnel will become more complex and difficult and require ever more knowledge and training. This in turn will make it more difficult and more expensive to bring in specialists with any experience until we get a little more standardization allowing vocational and tech schools to build more of these things into their curriculum.”
— Name withheld by request