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Telematics will change the way we manage equipment in the future Companies are working on ways to monitor equipment and measure efficiency in new ways
<p>Telematics will change the way we manage equipment in the future. Companies are working on ways to monitor equipment and measure efficiency in new ways.</p>

Buyer’s checklist: Telematics for late-model vehicles

Fleet management is becoming more important for farms trying to boost efficiency across the country. Here&rsquo;s what you&rsquo;ll need to buy to get your current vehicles set up for remote monitoring.

Fleet management systems have become part and parcel of new tractors you buy today, allowing you to track equipment, diagnose engine problems, view error codes and receive alerts, all from your cell phone or internet-enabled device.

But what if you’re still running some older machines that don’t have those high-tech electronics built in?

That’s where aftermarket companies are stepping in to bring you the same telematics features without your having to purchase a brand new vehicle. (Note: Some of the OEMs also are starting to sell off-the-shelf components for your existing vehicles.)

These packages offer many of the same features you’d get with new vehicles systems, and they are all going to consist of the same basic components, which are as follows:

• Modem or Wi-Fi device

•GPS antenna/receiver

•Subscription service or data plan

•Display interface

Trimble and Raven, two aftermarket precision farming providers, gave us the rundown on what’s included in their fleet management or “telematics” solutions for new or late-model equipment.


Raven’s telematics product is called the Slingshot Field Hub. The modem serves up high-speed Internet on your field computers and is designed to work with the major cellular networks. You can also connect devices like phones and tablet computers to Wi-Fi enabled versions of the Field Hub.

Field Hub works with other major brands of hardware and software packages, so for things like data management, you won’t have to switch to a whole new system. Raven says the data flows seamlessly between the software and field-deployed hardware.

Here are the specifics on what you need to get set up under Raven’s Slingshot Field Hub.

• Field Hub with a data plan.  Raven now offers flexible data plans through our channel to help save customers cost and the headache of carrying a wireless data plan with their carrier.

• In cab display such as the Viper 4 (GPS is integrated).  This is controlling machine functions, application control systems and is collecting the valuable data.  This connection also enables for wireless software updates to the field.

• Subscription.  A simple data plan for the Field Hub is all you need for software updates, file transfer, remote support and fleet tracking. Those features do not carry a subscription, they are no cost to the customer.  Once you have connectivity to your Field Hub you are good to go.  If you want to use the Field Hub for higher accuracy corrections for steering and other GPS functions, you can simply get a one-time unlock.

The price of the Field Hub is approximately $2,000 and a field computer varies but $5k-$7k is a ballpark for that. 

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Trimble offers wireless data transfer ability, or telematics, as part of its “Connected Farm” suite of products.

The basic components would depend on what you want the fleet management system to do.  At minimum you would need a DCM-300 modem (providing wireless data connectivity), which can be used with any brand of equipment.  The modem can track fleet positions and offer status updates (working, moving, idling).  The modem can connect to the vehicle’s controller area network or “canbus, to see equipment messages such as fuel level, engine temp, and other vehicle data that the OEMs make public.

Using a Trimble display (most commonly the TMX-2050 and FmX display) or a Raven display, customers can wirelessly transfer guidance lines, application maps, boundaries, and other resources.  Under the Connected Farm “standard” bundle, you will have full access to fleet management and wireless data transfer software and services to an unlimited number of vehicles on the farm.

For more information, visit

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