This article originally appeared in the July 2019 issue of CropLife magazine.
By Kristen Hampshire, Meister Media Worldwide
Seamless communication — from office to field and back again — gives agriculture professionals the capability to control variables, manage information and make real-time decisions that ultimately save time and money. Technology is power, especially when it’s completely integrated.
“When we can close the loop and tie together data from field computers in cabs to the main computer, that provides an ability to manage change,” says Paul Welbig, Director of Slingshot Services and Logistics at Raven Industries.
The new Viper 4 + Slingshot’s AgSync integration eliminates the need for cabs to be equipped with additional devices like tablets.
“Before, operators would have to do redundant work to get the level of information necessary to complete their application records,” Welbig says. “One of the clogs in the communication process was not having the seamless benefit of interacting with the display in the cab.”
Slingshot’s AgSync platform takes the functionality of an app and puts it in the hands of applicators in the Viper 4 display, explains Clay Rassi, Sales Manager for Raven. Rather than transferring information from a main computer to cabs via a USB stick, paper form, or even by making a phone call to get information, this integration flows data directly to the Viper 4 — and there’s little change for operators, who can rely on the Viper 4 already in place, yet capture the data they need in the moment without extra steps.
Simplifying the Tools
AgSync streamlines agribusiness and helps reduce costs and improve efficiency. It maximizes existing tech assets. Field studies reveal a savings of up to 55 hours per machine per year, adding up to 5 acres per hour per machine. Achieving this is as simple as initiating a Viper 4 software update, which requires no downtime, Welbig says.
“The overall deployment is straightforward,” he says. With the update comes Job Sync capabilities, so multiple operators can access data while working in the field together or separately.
A benefit is that operators do not need another device in the cab, and the data is presented in a way that operators are already familiar with if they use the Viper 4 system,” Welbig says. “There’s a seamless ability for everyone to know all of the information.”
The end results are improved efficiency, accuracy and accountability.
“It’s all about checks and balances, and getting the job done right,” Stephen says of the end-to-end workflow.
Data transfer and integration goes beyond workflow from operator to office. An agribusiness can capture savings and identify efficiency snags when all systems are integrated, including accounting software, agronomy packages, and other systems. “We can integrate those through Slingshot AgSync and provide seamless connectivity in the cab through Slingshot and Viper 4,” Fjelstad explains. “The platform makes all of these pieces seamless.”
A notable hurdle for some agribusinesses is adopting new technology, in general. What about downtime? What if there are glitches or errors? Who will help? And, what happens if a system goes down during the busy season?
“Part of the integration process involves understanding what software the business already has,” Rassi says. “With an understanding of their business, we can build out a protocol for the systems to start connecting and working together, and we can identify and fill in the gaps.”
Remote support is an integral part of successfully implementing any technology, and is a service Raven emphasizes with Slingshot. A customer service team can access this information and facilitate the integration while offering ongoing support. The team includes implementation specialists and technical service professionals who are always on call.
“Remote support is a fundamental aspect of Slingshot and the Viper 4 + AgSync integration, and secured connectivity in the cab allows us to be proactive in helping operators use the system,” Welbig says. “If there is a problem, we can efficiently see it and resolve it.”
“The simplicity of having this tool in the cab cannot be understated. This gives operators a way to complete their workflow without an extra tech gadget that can cut into efficiency and add more cost.”
Better for Business
Slingshot AgSync brings together work order management, reports and notifications, and dispatch and asset control. Giving an agribusiness “information central” empowers operators to see, organize and implement work orders. They can track and share spray movement data and review records.
A closed loop of data drives profitability. “Information never has to leave the system,” Welbig says. “It’s accessible and integrated.”