Telematic systems to monitor machine performance and streamline logistics are becoming standard equipment. Systems that simplify the transfer of field data such as A/B lines, spraying prescriptions and real-time yields to and from tractors, sprayers and combines are piggybacking on the trend.

The common denominator — besides the cellular field modems required for both — is the desire to improve overall farm efficiency by harvesting and better using data that drive farm decisions and field activities.

Although telematics as standard equipment is just getting under way in the U.S., it will become the status quo if agriculture follows the pattern of oil, mining, construction and trucking industries, says Kirk Appleford of Raven Industries.

“The whole agriculture industry is moving very quickly toward telematics,” says Appleford, who worked on the team that developed Raven’s Slingshot cellular RTK and data communications system. “Telematics will offer huge savings for manufacturers and customers. From what I have seen, eventually it will be included on every piece of power equipment coming out of the factory and will probably be free during the warranty period.”

Here’s a look at new telematics and data transfer offerings for 2012 and beyond.

 

AGCO advances AgCommand

For 2012, communications hardware needed for AGCO’s AgCommand telematics system will be available on all AGCO power equipment above 85 to 100 hp, plus all combines. Smaller-horsepower tractors can be outfitted with a communications package needed for AgCommand Basic, says Marlin Melander, AGCO technology marketing specialist.

Since AGCO introduced AgCommand in 2010, it has narrowed the service to two levels: AgCommand Basic Plus and AgCommand Advanced.

The Basic Plus plan, which was introduced in 2010, records vehicle locations, operating status, run times and other information derived from the built-in GPS receiver.

The Advanced system, which became available in August 2011, harvests data from the equipment CANbus, including engine rpm, load, fuel usage, transmission loads, error codes and a range of other data that can provide a picture of a vehicle’s use efficiency and overall health. This information can be viewed and analyzed on the AgCommand website, which can be used to set custom alerts for key parameters, such as excessive engine idling, as well as standard alerts for error codes.

On combines, the Advanced system monitors functions affecting harvest efficiency. The system can provide text and email alerts for a range of functions, including excessive grain losses, Melander says.

The list price for factory-installed AgCommand Standard Plus is $2,510 for hardware and three years of service. The list price of AgCommand Advanced is $4,835, including hardware and three years of service. For more information, visit www.agcotechnologies.com.

 

Claas expands offerings

Last fall, Claas introduced a full suite of telematics tools on 600 and 700 Series Lexion combines. Now it has added its Jaguar 900 Series self-propelled forage harvesters to its telemetry offerings. All 900 Series forage harvesters come from the factory with a modem and integrated GPS receiver necessary to use the company’s optional remote diagnostics and telematics packages. For Lexion combines, the hardware is optional.

The Claas telematics system monitors 35 combine measurements, as well as on-board computer messages, alarm and maintenance codes. The system collects critical data, including yields, grain losses, fuel efficiency, unloading waiting times and other efficiency factors, several of which can be displayed graphically as an overlay on Google Earth. A Google Earth interface is also used to monitor machines in real time.

Although Claas’s telematics package is relatively new in the U.S., more than 2,500 customers worldwide have used it since it was first offered to customers in 2005, says Reinhold Maehler, a Claas product specialist.

“The system also provides instant access to yield data,” Maehler says. As each field is harvested, yield data can be uploaded to the Claas Web server, then downloaded to an office PC for use in Ag Leader SMS and Claas software. Trimble Farm Works software is currently being adapted and will soon be capable of using the file format.

The remote diagnostics tool enables a dealer or other service provider to have remote live access to a machine’s CANbus to diagnose problems or errors. The dealer also has limited access to machine data, such as engine/working hours, alarm and maintenance messages, and component speed and status, to enable dealers to provide immediate service maintenance recommendations, he says.

First-year suggested retail price for combine telematics packages is $3,380, and $2,830 for forage harvesters. Second-year license fees are lower. A remote diagnostics-only subscription is $1,200/year for combines and $999/year for forage harvesters. More information is available from Claas dealers, or by visiting www.claasofamerica.com.

 

Deere factory-installs telematics

For 2012, John Deere will factory-install telematics hardware on most large tractors, sprayers, combines and forage harvesters. The company’s high-end JDLink Ultimate telematics service will be included in the base price for the first year and at a significantly discounted price in future years when bundled with an extended warranty, says Aaron Bartholomay, senior product development specialist.

The company is also expanding telematics features in 2012. It expects to have a remote access feature that will allow owners to view a GreenStar 2630 display from any Internet-connected computer in the spring. New harvest modules to monitor and improve efficiency of combines and self-propelled forage harvesters are expected by summer, Bartholomay adds.

The company decided to offer free telematics during the warranty period to improve customer service, with reduced costs for warranty repairs a side benefit. “Along with our dealers, we can provide much better support to our customers with telematics,” Bartholomay says. “Dealers can use Service Advisor Remote to remotely diagnose machines without leaving the dealership, which allows them to be more efficient and increase uptime for the customer.”

For 2011, telematics hardware was factory-installed on 8R Series tractors. For 2012, the list includes 9R Series tractors, 7R and 6R Series tractors, model 4940 sprayers, S660 to S690 combines and 7050 Series forage harvesters.

In addition to JDLink Ultimate, the company also offers a basic service call JDLink Select, which tracks machine location, operating status, run times and maintenance. A field-install kit for JDLink Select is $1,300, which includes hardware and a one-year subscription.  The JDLink Ultimate field-install kit is $3,100, which includes hardware and a one-year subscription. For more information, visit www.johndeere.com.

 

Raven extends Slingshot’s range

Soon after Raven Industries released its Slingshot RTK and cellular communications system in 2010, it introduced an application programing interface (API) to allow software companies, precision ag equipment manufacturers, OEMs and others to use Slingshot to deliver integrated information management solutions to their mutual customers.

In 2012, the API developer floodgates will open as more than 10 Slingshot API partners announce new capabilities harnessing the Slingshot API, says Kelby Kleinsasser, Raven’s Applied Technology Division ag information director.

“I think 2012 will be a terrific year of innovation,” he says. “We are breaking down the barriers and creating new interoperability that didn’t exist before.”

SST Software, which is partially owned by Raven, has begun using the API to deliver SST Summit capabilities to Raven controllers via Slingshot. Software Solutions has also used the API in the dispatch module within its Agvance product. Both will improve sprayer efficiency by transferring prescriptions and as-applied maps and monitoring tank levels and, soon, features such as automatic tender dispatching, Kleinsasser says. These capabilities supplement asset tracking and data transfer capabilities built into the Slingshot system.

Raven also is working with several agricultural equipment manufacturers to develop telematic packages delivered via the Slingshot system. “We are well down the path toward offering CANbus telematics solutions to multiple OEM partners,” Appleford says. Visit www.ravenslingshot.com.

 

Trimble adds to Connected Farm

Trimble continues to add features to its Connected Farm suite of software solutions. For the 2011 harvest, it broadened its Sync solution to enable wireless transfer of combine yield monitor files from the Trimble FmX display to Trimble servers, then to an office computer.

Earlier in the year, it released Dispatch, which adds geo-fences and email alerts. The company’s new WM-Drain software also can dispatch drainage plan files from the Farm Works Surface in the office to the field via Connected Farm servers. The DCM-300 modem now handles data transfer, asset management tracking and cellular RTK correction signal acquisition chores, replacing separate data/RTK modems needed in the past.

The new data transfer capability “completes the circle” from planting to harvest as Sync enables transfer of guidance lines, variable-rate prescription maps, planned and completed jobs, application maps, soil sampling and scouting maps, yields and more, says Scott Nusbaum, Farm Works product manager.

“Initially, most interest in Sync has been from larger farms,” he says. “Now, moderate and smaller-sized farms are seeing the benefits. Guys have been looking at it for a year and are now ready to take it on.”

The cost of the Sync package is $600/year, plus data plan charges from cellular providers and $1,895 for the DCM-300 modem. Dispatch alone costs $240/year, plus $995 for the modem. Visit www.connectedfarm.com.