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Machinery monitoring turns predictive

by Neil Lyon, 07 September 2017

THE capacity to remotely monitor and diagnose faults with modern-day farm tractors and machinery continues to advance with John Deere’s ‘Expert Alert’ system taking the technology to a new level.

Paul Slatter

Speaking at an AgForce field day at Goondiwindi in southern Queensland, Chesterfield Australia integrated solutions manager, Paul Slatter, Brisbane, said Expert Alerts took remote machinery monitoring and diagnostics to the next step.

“This is where it moves from diagnostic to prognostic where we are starting to anticipate a possible failure. That is very powerful if we can do that well,” he said.

“Expert Alerts are taking the existing diagnostic trouble codes and combining them with additional factory warranty information and engineering data to try to make predictive analysis of what could happen with a machine.

“The Expert Alerts come to the dealer and then the dealer will have a technical solution associated with the expert alert they can contact the grower about. They will have a recommended course of action to prevent a failure or downtime.”

Mr Slatter said John Deere’s Expert Alerts were introduced in late 2016 and were still in the early stages of adoption.

To date they are only available on tractors, but ultimately will be expanded to other equipment that has a telematic system fitted.

So how does it work?

Analysts at the John Deere factory take information that is coming in from the JDLink alert monitoring systems on tractors.

They analyse the data along with data they have from warranty failures and other engineering history.

From that, they identify certain failure trends and create rules for triggering an Expert Alert.

If required, the Expert Alert is then sent to the dealer.

“So, it gives us a lot more head start. If it is coming through, we need to get onto it pretty quickly to prevent possible downtime,” Mr Slatter said.

“That is where it is heading. With increasing data analytics and increasing improvement in sensors we are able to do more predictive analysis to try to prevent things happening in certain operating conditions.”

Agronomic expertise

Mr Slatter said John Deere had also recognised the need to employ additional people with agronomic experience to provide the expertise linking the precision ag capabilities of the machinery with the agronomic needs on the farm.

He said Chesterfield was in the process of appointing two precision ag consultants, one for the Dubbo area and one for the northern region.

“In the precision agriculture area of Chesterfield we are looking to bring on people with agronomy experience, not to give agronomy advice but to work with the client and their agronomist on the implementation of precision ag,” he said.

“How do we take all this precision ag data and use it to make better decisions on-farm around inputs and land levelling?

“We have the equipment and tools to apply variable inputs or to land level and are trying to link it with the agronomic needs.

“Because we have the tools and equipment to apply it, by putting on someone with agronomy experience we can better make the link between the data and the equipment applying it.”

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