With standardized sensor systems in every vehicle and the cost of IoT technology falling, agricultural equipment manufacturer AVR spotted a big opportunity with big data at its core. Their idea? Using connected sensors to gather detailed insights into environmental conditions, crop yield and field management.
Traditional industry, futureproof mindset
AVR has a decades-long history in the field of potato agriculture, designing and manufacturing harvesters, planters and cultivators. It’s a niche market, but they are one of the world’s biggest players, exporting equipment to every continent. However, even a traditional industry like agriculture is being impacted by emerging IT innovations.
“Agriculture adopts new tech relatively slowly compared to other sectors. But the key words ‘smart farming’ and ‘precision agriculture’ are cropping up more and more often,” explains AVR IoT manager Koen Uyttenhove. “We realized that in order to maintain our competitive edge and meet changing demands, we’d have to change our business strategy.”
Using data to improve agricultural practices
In the past, AVR focused much more on the mechanical side of agriculture. “Now, our goal is to develop smarter machines with many more sensors and use the data we collect to bring value and transparency to stakeholders along the entire value chain as an add-on to our core offer of high-quality machinery,” he continues.
Incorporating a set of IoT building blocks developed by IoT expert Eurotech, including the ReliaGATE family of intelligent edge computers running the Everyware software framework and Everyware Cloud, delaware developed an MS Azure-based IoT platform that gathers, analyzes and visualizes data from sensors on tractors and other farming vehicles.
“Farmers can use this data to improve their crop yield monitoring approaches, and crop processors get insights into the quality and characteristics of incoming produce,” Koen says. “These real-time, accurate insights lead to higher efficiency, less waste and better processes.”
Moving forward without picking up roots
With a showcase version already up and running, AVR plans to release the platform for end users later in 2018, gathering market feedback to drive the development of new capabilities.
Koen found the ideal innovation partner in delaware, a fellow local Belgian firm. “AVR values close, tangible collaboration, and we wanted a partner that’s rooted in our area,” he explains. “In addition to that, delaware is both a Microsoft partner and able to provide a very broad spectrum of expertise. They’re really a one-stop-shop for innovation, whether it’s in web development, strategic vision or trending technologies.”
“As for the future, we’re dreaming big,” Koen asserts. “In addition to taking the state-of-the-art to a higher level, we want to explore other technologies such as the use of predictive analytics and image analysis to predict the quality and size of the crop.”
But at the end of the day, AVR firmly intends to focus on producing quality machines. “Although these research projects are important to us and we are interested in providing some very specific software solutions, we are, above all, experts in mechatronics and potato fans,” Koen finishes.
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