Robots, big sprayers and futuristic drone tools were all the rage at Agritechnica late in 2019, but a data-sharing agreement may have the biggest impact on global equipment owners. Announced just before the show opened, DataConnect is a data interface project that allows owners of several equipment brands to share information easily. The players include the brands of CNH Industrial — Case IH, New Holland and Steyr; and John Deere, Claas and 365FarmNet.
“We are really a consortium all agreeing to work together to exchange six basic elements of machine data, so mixed-fleet farmers who have all those different brands on their operation can choose the platform of their choice to see those machines in one place,” says Dan Danford, global industry relations, CNH Industrial.
“For mixed-fleet operators, it’s a chance to better manage their equipment,” adds Eric Raby, president and general manager, sales, Claas. “This is a global agreement for data sharing.”
Basics of how it will work
Equipment today is passing information from cab to cloud regularly. With the FarmConnect interface, the farmer can then have that information directed to the platform of choice — through the cloud. All the farmer will have to do is accept the link on that platform, and the information becomes available. No added equipment or technology is required beyond the telemetry tools the machine already has. The system will share key data elements including current and historical machine location, current fuel tank level, working status and forward speed.
For example, if you’re a big user of AFS Connect from Case IH, yet you have some John Deere equipment, too, today your John Deere equipment must be managed by John Deere Operations Center. Once DataConnect is operational, that machine information can flow to the platform you like using best — either AFS Connect or John Deere Operations Center.
“Ultimately, the idea is no boundaries; so if I’m using a platform now and another platform has great feature improvements I want to try out, I should be able to move everything over [to that new platform] and start using that,” Danford says.
The agreement, struck just weeks before the big Germany-based farm show opened, already had demonstrations on equipment stands showing proof of concept. “These were completed in about six weeks,” Danford says.
He explains the next step is to identify a small group of farmers with multiple brands to work through the issues that may occur with multibrand fleets. Once that’s completed, he says the FarmConnect program will go live, aiming for October.
Machine data first
Initially, the aim is to share machine data, so farmers can “see” their fleet at work and gather efficiency information into a single platform. Once on that platform, dealer support is also possible.
“If a farmer agrees to give the dealer access to that platform, the dealer will be able to see all the equipment, which can help with support,” Danford says.
Once the kinks are worked out of the machine data sharing as part of this new platform, the next step will be working to pass agronomic data like yield information and as-applied maps. All are possible in the system.
Keeping track of equipment to improve management of this key capital asset is growing in importance, as farmers work to become more efficient. The information available from these machines helps improve management, and having access to all that information in one place for the future will be valuable to farmers.