Having recently attended the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers meeting in Louisville, there was plenty of discussion among attendees about the advancements — and existing hurdles — to true precision equipment compatibility.
In particular, the Ag Gateway consortium is making headway via its Precision Ag Council to encourage primary stakeholders — i.e. agricultural manufacturers — to collaborate and establish universal compatibility standards. More than 100 companies are now part of the council, which is both encouraging and challenging, says Andres Ferreyra, chair of the council.
“We’ve made progress, but reaching a consensus among different companies for products which can have very different internal architecture is very difficult,” he says. “How do we represent these processes in a common way that is flexible enough to accommodate everybody, while at the same time preserving the meanings of everything?”
No small task, but one which Ag Gateway members are tackling with the creation of a comprehensive ag glossary. The goal is to have a “one-stop location” in the form of an online wiki for ag terms, definitions, acronyms, key words and synonyms, accessible to all segments of the ag industry in support of accurate communication and improved understanding.
As it is, defining something as simple as a work order can elicit an array of interpretations from companies. “I’d probably get five different definitions if I asked three companies,” half-jokes Ferrerya. “And that’s a major problem.”
Spending a few days after the ASABE meeting at the National Farm Machinery Show, there were several manufacturers debuting new or updated equipment with ISOBUS capabilities. Companies are clearly committing to the compatibility concept, but there is still skepticism as to whether everyone involved will play nice, especially when it comes to proprietary components.
Talking with one precision manufacturer introducing a new ISO-updated monitor, he likes the idea of having a singular resource companies and dealers can reference to define complex precision terms.
As it is, dealers working on a variety of precision brands might not always be speaking the same language when it comes to diagnosing and solving problems. This is potentially a larger problem for dealers selling and servicing aftermarket products, compared to major manufacturers.
“We have two engineers we send to ISOBUS training camps and they come back and tell us the bigger companies all want it done their way, because they think it’s the best,” the precision manufacturer says. “To make this work for all of us and our dealers and customers, we need to find some common terms.”