Telemetry and Tractors Are Teaming Up!

The operating principle of telematics devices is based on the transmission of data between the tractor and a digital platform via a modem integrated in the tractor, using the mobile telephone network.

Also called telemetry, telematics has long been associated with the management of fleets of tractors, harvesting machines as well as very large labor-intensive farms.

But the development of more ergonomic user interfaces and the arrival of new functionalities, such as data transfer or even tractor terminal screen sharing, make this solution more readily available for farmers.

Tractor operators are also investing in this technology to improve service to dealers, who are now able to diagnose breakdowns remotely, or even anticipate them. Manufacturers also see it as a way to accumulate data on their equipment in order to optimize their performance and reliability. The Covid-19 crisis has also highlighted the advantages of telematics during confinement, by offering the possibility of starting new machines or performing remote repairs.

Tractor tracked from smartphone

Most tractor operators offer telematics equipment on their range of tractors. The availability varies according to the brands. While some keep it as optional equipment, others have decided to democratize it by including it in the basic equipment of the tractor.

Viewing telemetry systems is generally carried out in two ways, either from a web portal with the PC, or from an application with the smartphone or tablet. This second solution offers greater simplicity in accessing basic tractor information: location, fuel level, hours worked, fault codes, maintenance indications, etc.

Working from the PC makes it possible to enhance the history of data, by analyzing and comparing different sites. Users also praise the data transfer, which allows both to send settings, guide lines or even recommendation cards to the tractor, and to retrieve in return all the tasks actually performed. Telematics thus becomes the best ally of traceability and of the precision farmer

Assistance with settings

Another advancement in telematics, remote viewing of the tractor terminal, a kind of screen sharing, offers more flexibility when starting up new machines or providing advice without going to the job site.

A pioneer in this field with its Remote Display Access device launched in 2013, John Deere has since been joined by Case IH and New Holland, as well as by Deutz-Fahr. Note that the latter is the only one to offer remote control of the terminal. The other manufacturers are satisfied with a visualization, the driver remaining in control of the settings, for safety reasons. This function is very useful for operations with several partners or with employees. For the dealer, it is also a very effective support tool for quickly advising customers, while saving travel.

Remote diagnostics reduce intervention time

The acceleration of telematics deployment by manufacturers now aims to optimize the services offered by dealers. From the moment the user gives him/her access to the tractor via the web portal, something that the latter can always refuse for reasons of confidentiality, the dealer can establish a remote diagnosis, make electronic updates and ensure the follow-up of tractor maintenance.

In the event of an intermittent failure that is very difficult to detect in the field, the concession technician can record all the information from the Can Bus for 3-4 hours, a period during which he will easily detect the fault code involved. The more the manufacturer has connected machines, the more it enriches its database to optimize the equipment. This can be translated at the dealership by advice on adjustment more adapted to local conditions, but above all by the implementation of predictive maintenance.

With the Alert system, farmers and technicians are able to detect the beginnings of a breakdown and thus act very early to prevent the tractor from immobilizing it. The dealers already largely involved in this approach, with 200 to 300 connected machines, benefit from a control panel displaying a health score for each of the equipment and a ranking by order of priority in the interventions. Telematics thus becomes a means of optimizing workshop activity, limiting emergencies during peak periods and taking advantage of periods which are usually quieter.