Ag Tech

Predictive machinery monitoring nips problems in the bud

Neil Lyon, June 7, 2019

NEW machinery monitoring technology that provides real-time data on a tractor or harvester’s ‘health’ is helping farmers and their service providers identify emerging problems and nip them in the bud before they become full-blown issues.

Vanderfield technical support and training specialist, Richard Harris, operates the Connected Support system on a new John Deere tractor at CRT FarmFest 2019. (Photo: Jim Booth)

Drawing on algorithms that combine the machine’s history and current performance indicators, John Deere’s Connected Support remote-monitoring system keeps tabs on the equipment’s ‘vital signs’ as the machines operate in the field, and provides early warning of impending problems.

Demonstrating the system at this week’s CRT FarmFest Field Days near Toowoomba in southern Queensland, Vanderfield technical support and training specialist Richard Harris said Connected Support featured a portfolio of different programs that allowed the company to remotely monitor customer machines.

“What happens is a customer can have a machine connected to a network through the JDLink telematics system. We have had JDLink in our machines for some years now. But there is a portfolio of different programs now being built by John Deere that allow us to monitor what is going on with those machines,” he said.

“We have a team in the support office who monitor the machines. As the machines are going through the fields, potentially there could be issues with them such as over-heating or low oil pressure that are being reported back to our central database.

“We have access to that and can monitor it. As a team, we can see if there is a machine that is starting to look like it is having a problem.”

The service department can then contact the owner of the machine to alert them to the problem and be ready to make a repair before its actually needed.

Rather than waiting for the problem to stop the machine, the technology in effect can predict the problem arising and stop it escalating.

Mr Harris said one of the recent developments was that, by having the capacity to monitor the customer fleet of machines, John Deere was now able to prioritise those that needed more immediate attention than others.

“One of the tools from John Deere is a managing dashboard which has an algorithm that gives us the ability to see the machine within our fleet which has the highest priority with regard to issues occurring. We can respond to that,” he said.

“It might not necessarily be an issue that will stop the machine from working, but it might have something going on that needs attention.”

Another element of the Connected Support system is Service Advisor Remote which allows dealers to diagnosis and repair a problem from a remote location.

The dealer is able to analyse machine conditions in real time, or set a trigger point to record intermittent conditions.

Mr Harris said critical to the program operating successfully was farmers having access to high levels of network connectivity.

“One of the things that is very important is being able to get the data from the machine back to the customer’s home-base computer and to us,” he said.

“When we started with the JDLink telemetry there was only 2G in the outlying areas and we weren’t getting constant connectivity to the machines. So, there was a program to upgrade the machines to 3G to get better coverage.

“Connectivity is a big thing. We now have the ability to send the information back to the central location automatically, so if we don’t have good cell coverage it doesn’t happen.”




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