Agribusiness Operations Planning: three reasons to wager on this tool.

Although unforeseen events are common in agricultural and forestry production, good preparation can avoid problems and assist in productivity and economy of operations.

19 May 2021

As in any business, in agricultural and forestry production planning is one of the main tools for assertive decision-making. Only through a plan based on data and statistics is it possible to achieve objectives and optimise results.

"In Brazilian agribusiness, we still have a great lack of planning and, consequently, a limitation in operational management," explains Bernardo de Castro, president of Hexagon's Agriculture division, which develops and provides technological solutions for the sector. “But fortunately, with the growing use of technology in the field, the reality of the country is changing. With sensors, software and hardware, we have already seen a large increase in the strategic vision of operations, which brings efficiency to agribusiness," he adds.

With good preparation, it is possible to avoid major problems and respond more quickly to conflicts, ensuring much more satisfactory results from planting to harvesting. Check out three reasons to wager on operations planning.

1) Having a diagnosis at hand and avoiding unforeseen events

With a planning tool, all the information necessary for a diagnosis of agricultural or forestry production is collected and crossed, generating a reliable plan to be followed.

"The HxGN AgrOn Operation Planning solution, developed by Hexagon, for example, considers yields, costs and other key performance indicators (KPIs) to calculate the machines, labour and inputs necessary for the optimal execution of each operation and period of the year," explains Bernardo de Castro.

This prior diagnosis allows managers to prepare themselves, minimising the chances of unexpected situations during the execution of agricultural or forestry operations, such as the lack of inputs or the demand for hiring more employees.

It is possible to design and sequence all processes of preparation, planting, harvesting and cultivation of production areas, as well as scale the use of resources based on the yield and estimated utilization rates in operations. Defining shifts and work regimes and projecting the need to hire third parties to meet surplus demands is also a possibility.

2) Easier decision-making

By performing an analysis of everything that will be necessary for operations, the tool can make comparisons between the demand and the availability of resources, signalling to managers all points of attention that require adaptation.

In addition, the operation planning system also points to capacity or budget constraints. Thus, it presents viable alternatives within what is accessible, facilitating decision-making by managers.

"After prior preparation, it is also possible to monitor the performance of all activities in the field, verifying if what has been scheduled is being complied with or if there is a need for any adjustment or revision," explains the president of the Agriculture division. This change can occur if there is an external unforeseen event, for example, the failure of an agricultural machine or the unexpected absence of an operator.

To further contribute to agricultural and forestry management, the software is also integrated into the process of issuing work orders.

3) Making savings and achieving the most efficient execution possible

Any plan aims to generate more productivity and efficiency and, with agricultural and forestry operations is no different. HxGN AgrOn Operation Planning has an optimization model that uses a linear programming algorithm to test all options, simulating scenarios and pointing out the one that represents the best cost/benefit relationship. "Due to the number of variables and problems involved, in general, the available alternatives and possible combinations are very complex for the manager to make a decision without the aid of a specific tool. With this software, the assertiveness of actions is guaranteed," reinforces Bernardo de Castro.

Taking into account variants, collected from sensors and information entered in the system, the tool demonstrates how to allocate the existing resources for the execution of operations with as much use as possible. This functionality reduces waste related to labour, inputs and even machine fuels.

"The use of this Hexagon solution on a sugarcane farm for a year, for example, has led to a reduction of approximately 4.5% in fuel usage, which represents savings of BRL 1.5 million," Bernardo points out.