Haul-Out Dynamic Allocation increasing logistical efficiency in the sugar-energy sector

By Alexandre Alencar, Director of Research and Development at Hexagon's Agriculture Division


02 April 2020 

Time and synchronisation are critical factors for the sugar-energy sector. And certainly, due to the lack of adequate management tools, they must have contributed to the 2% drop in production for the 2018/19 harvest in southern Brazil. How can we reverse this situation? The answer lies in machinery automation, which intensifies the sugarcane harvesting process and prevents waiting times for harvesters, making the cutting, loading and transportation processes fluid.

The scenario is simple: while an haul-out is completing its loading process by the harvester, another tractor with an empty haul-out is activated to move to that same harvester, seeking to prevent it from stopping due to lack of haul-out to receive its production. The downtime of harvesters is one of the main bottlenecks in keeping an industry supplied. And the more they remain in operation, the greater the volume of sugarcane delivered to the mills. Stationary harvesters mean loss of efficiency, idle capacity, increased costs and the need for more equipment.

We want to increase this efficiency by making the harvesters work as long as possible. For this reason, we have developed the HxGN AgrOn Haul-Out Dynamic Allocation, which coordinates and synchronises the movement of haul-out tractors through a call and attendance system. With this solution, the operating time of a harvesting machine can be increased by up to 50% on the day. In terms of the average in the national market, this would mean that a harvester could go from a cutting capacity of 720 to 1080 tons per day, reaching the level of 45 ton/hour run.

The system basically takes into account three configurable criteria to select which will be the haul-out directed to a harvester: the distance between the equipment (the closest will have priority in the call); the need for manoeuvre (haul-outs already aligned with the harvester are prioritized); and the queue time (allocating equipment that have been waiting the longest first).

While the harvester is operating with over-haul, the AgrOn Haul-Out Dynamic Allocation keeps monitoring the loading, projecting the moment when it will be 100% loaded. Considering the decision factors, the application then opts for the ideal moment to send the request for a new haul-out, calculating the moment when it should arrive to replace the current haul-out without causing the harvester to stop. All the haul-outs in condition to answer the call respond to the request, with the application deciding which one has the best conditions for this service.

In addition to increasing the productive time of harvesters, we have major fuel savings, due to both the reduction of distances covered by tractors and the reduction of maneuvers. All this helps to cut and deliver more raw materials to the industry with the same number of equipment. In short, this means more sugarcane and more energy, with more benefits for the company and less waste in the operation.