In-Cab Technology: Smarter Rides
More powerful computers in the cab cut clutter and add efficiency.
May 6, 2010
Joe Robertson, communications manager for AutoFarm, explains that "both retailers and customers want control of all aspects of precision farming with a single in-cab display to eliminate cab clutter." For instance, AutoFarm's new ParaDyme System not only offers GPS steering from WAAS to RTK, it also provides multiple product application control, liquid/granular variable-rate application, boom height and section control, and even planter control and yield monitoring. Compatibility with other systems helps reduce the need for multiple displays inside the cab.
"In-cab computing is all about allowing the operator in the cab to be the most efficient and productive as possible," says Cyndee Smiley, John Deere AMS senior product manager. John Deere's GreenStar displays allow users to control flow rate, automatically turn boom sections on and off, and use automatic guidance applications.
Rich In Features
As technology and operators needs continue to evolve, so have their requirements. Driver requests have led manufacturers to continue developing and improving a number of features, including:
Input cost control. Asset and resource management is more important than ever as farm operation size and input costs continue to rise, says Smiley. John Deere's AgLogic System provides fleet management logistic features tailored to the commercial application industry, helping increase completed acres per day while decreasing input costs. Swath Control Pro goes one step further, automating boom section on/off controls.
Reduce driver fatigue. Automated features also help the driver through long days. For example, the touch functionality of Ag Leader Technology's Integra and Edge displays "automate routine and tiresome tasks like adjusting the boom height and controlling the boom section on/off state, reducing the physical strain on the driver through the course of a day," says John Howard, Ag Leader product manager.
Both Ag Leader displays include a full-featured, integrated on-screen guidance lightbar with perspective view and a real-time coverage map. The new Integra features a 12.1-inch touchscreen with high-definition mapping.
Steering and guidance. For those seeking advanced guidance features, Leica Geosystems recently introduced its mojo3D, a rugged 7-inch touch screen display that incorporates Leica's Glide technology for improved guidance when using the WAAS correction signal. It can be used as a manual steering guidance screen or attached to a mojo Glide or mojo RTK console for automated hands-free steering, says Harlan Little, Leica ag business manager, NAFTA.
Leica's other new monitor, the mojoMINI, has a simple 4-inch screen that provides manual field guidance; the driver chooses the type of navigation.
Topcon offers AES-25 electric steering kits. These "maximize steering performance in a variety of farm vehicles," says Rod Haarberg, North American sales manager.
Reports and documentation. Programs are evolving that allow drivers to automatically generate application reports for recordkeeping and customers, saving time in the office at the end of the day. Included in that group are John Deere's GreenStar displays and Ag Leader's Integra display.
Wireless. There's a general push towards moving data wirelessly, in both machine-to-machine communication as well as transmitting data from the field back to the office and vice versa.
Kristin Tilus, marketing coordinator for Raven's Applied Technology Division, says: "Ag retailers have asked for a streamlined approach to the way data is managed, and we're able to achieve that goal by backing our field computers with the AgX platform" from SST Software via a strategic alliance between the two companies. Raven's new Slingshot allows retailers — whether the driver is in the middle of a job or sitting idly — to browse the Internet, transfer prescription maps and job data between the field and the office instantly, remotely access the field computer, and observe where all their different vehicles are.
The company's Field Hub will give aerial applicators the same Internet access and file transfer capability.
Trimble Navigation offers EZ-Sync software — a component of the company's Connected Farm system — that adds wireless connectivity between the field and home office throughout the entire growing cycle. "Information flows seamlessly between your mobile handheld device, your precision ag display on your vehicle, and to your office for easy-to-use recordkeeping and reporting solutions," says Ian Harley, business unit director for Trimble Agricultural Information Management.
John Deere's AgLogic system, using an in-cab PDA, connects the field to the office using telematics technology, says Smiley. The logistics system automates the cycle by dispatching work orders and associated files directly to the field and sending completed work order information back in real-time.
Machine Capability Ramped Up
Application sprayer and spreader manufacturers also offer features to make in-cab computing more compatible with their machines. For example, the Case IH Patriot sprayers may now be equipped with the Case IH Viper Pro field computer, says Ken Lehmann, marketing manager, Case IH Application Division. The Viper Pro offers wireless Internet capability, allowing in-cab transfer of data between the office and the sprayer, and as-applied maps can be immediately sent to the office for report generation and billing. Users can also access crop sensing technology, weather reports, driving directions, and service support wirelessly.
AGCO is releasing its AGCOMMAND system this month. "AGCOMMAND is actually a telemetry product that doesn't have a computer in the cab," says Marlin Melander, technical marketing specialist, AGCO Corp.
With AGCOMMAND, the dealership manager can track the location and information transmissions of his application machines and tenders/trucks in real-time; staff can even receive a notice when a truck is returning. The initial release — Standard Plus — will be available for RoGator and TerraGator applicators, which are already AGCOMMAND-ready. Standard Plus will be used for vehicle location as well as vehicle usage. AGCOMMAND Advanced, which will be available later this year, will tap into the vehicle so managers can monitor and record engine and tranmission functions, water temperature, oil pressure, and more.