There are a lot of ways to show equipment and at the Farm Progress Show I think we see them all.
So how do you capture the attention of a farmer at a farm show? There's a lot to see at one time and often visiting farmers are "on a mission." So each exhibitor has to work to get people inside. Of course size matters in some sense, but innovation and demonstration still count for something.
I've seen smaller exhibit lots crammed with folks who want to see the latest in new tech for welding or some other unique innovation. The Farm Progress Show has a Varied Industries Tent that's 40 feet wide and 500 feet long and it's packed with people chatting with exhibitors with new ideas.
But how do you cut through the clutter as a bigger exhibitor? Arrangements of equipment on the lot help as do those arena shows done by some bigger exhibitors. I like all those approaches.
This year AGCO tried something new by displaying their equipment in the lifecycle of the farm. In fact they welcome visitors to "our farm." And as you start into the exhibit you see field preparation including Sunflower equipment pulled by Fendt and Challenger tractors. Walk into the display and you see planting equipment on one side, while hay and forage-making tools are "at work" on the other.
You'll also see a sprayer going through a lovely field of soybeans while Hesston tools chop and cut hay and bale too. Combines are "at work" toward the end, and AGCO rounds out the exhibit with a GSI bin.
"We also teamed up with FFA to plant the crops for the exhibit too," says Bob Crain, senior vice president and general manager for AGCO North America. "It shows all of our brands."
As for technology? AGCO has Fuse Technologies, a group hard at work developing next-level data collection and sharing tools for AGCO equipment, which added an interesting dimension to the display. They used a technology called Augmented Reality (AR).
With AR as you view something through the camera of a tablet, the application provides added information. Advertisers are using the tool in magazines where you aim your tablet or smartphone camera at an image and what you see is totally different.
In the case of the FUSE exhibit at the Farm Progress Show - visitors climbed a big tower and viewed the exhibit through the iPads provided. As you can see in the image contained in the blog - the AR view offers a look at the data stream coming back from equipment to the farm (that first tent is the "farm home")
"It's a way to show how information moves in the system," says Jason O'Flanagan, who works with FUSE Technologies.
In our talk about what FUSE is working on, he talked about movement to a common tech platform for all AGCO equipment. That's going to take some work given the many lines the company sells (remember in 24 years of its life AGCO purchased 26 different companies to become what it is today). Yet in the near future you'll find a common interface in the cabs of each machine, and a simplified design.
"Right now a Gleaner combine has three GPS antennas and two cellular modems," O'Flanagan says. "When we're finished it will have one GPS receiver and one cellular modem." He notes also that the common display will be important, but as farmers advance with their information needs the second display will more than likely be a tablet with its enhanced display and other added features.
There was a lot of data talk at the Farm Progress Show. I'm still going through my notes and will share more on that in a future blog. Stay tuned.
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