Logistics is still a challenge for agribusiness: how losses be prevented in the sector's operations?

Technologies such as machine and truck monitoring and route planning systems ensure that logistics processes are carried out with maximum efficiency and economy

Web Double Pod

06 July 2022

Whether on or off the field, logistics is one of the major concerns of agribusiness. After all, agricultural operations have particularities that require a lot of attention. Almost all products in the sector have specific perishability and fragility conditions, requiring agile action to maintain their quality. 

"In this scenario of great challenges, it is essential that agricultural producers and managers can count on the support of technologies to ensure rigorous logistics in their operations," says Bernardo de Castro, president of Hexagon's Agriculture division, which develops digital solutions that optimise and integrate all agricultural and forestry processes.

Faced with tight deadlines, the lack of efficient logistics can cause losses in harvesting and waste in transportation.  Furthermore, the absence of adequate logistical planning generates other losses, such as unproductive time of agricultural machinery and unnecessary expenses with fuels. Not to mention that, without safety, it is more susceptible to accidents and cargo theft.

 To increase crop productivity and ensure the harvest and delivery of products on time, with less cost and more quality, the specialist gives four tips focused on logistics. Check out the following:

1 - Preventive maintenance in the fleets

When used constantly, any vehicle will suffer wear and tear. In agribusiness, this applies both to the trucks that take the raw material to the destination industries and to the machines that operate in the day-to-day operation in the field. As a result, it is recommended to carry out an inspection before the start of each trip, checking issues such as oil and fuel levels, safety items and signaling systems.

In the case of agricultural equipment, there are already specific solutions capable of monitoring the situation of the machine and meeting its maintenance needs, following the recommended period of oil change, lubrication, replacement of parts and so on. "This reduces the chances of them breaking down in the middle of performing a task, which prevents unplanned downtime that could generate losses in a given harvest," points out Bernardo.

2 - Planning to avoid unforeseen events

As a rule, agricultural machines stay in the field throughout the harvest period, often running 24 hours a day over months. In this scenario, one of the most frequent logistical support procedures that needs to occur is refueling. To perform this task, a truck train or tank usually travels through rural areas, passing through different places that demand its service.

In order to optimise this process, an intelligent system can plan the best routes for these support vehicles, taking into account issues such as the projection of the tank level of the machines and the mileage to be traveled. Thus, trucks take the most agile route and with the least number of stops, saving their own fuel and avoiding interruptions in agricultural operations.

These same train trucks can also function as mobile workshops, going to the field at times of scheduled equipment shutdown to make the maintenance adjustments indicated in the previous item. 

3 - Monitoring for synchronisation of machines and trucks

Another essential point for agricultural logistics is the monitoring of machines and trucks in real time. With this control, it is possible to synchronise activities so that these vehicles do not have unproductive time and the flow of the raw material is not interrupted.

"Software works so that the truck arrives in front of work at the ideal time. That is, neither late, because this could freeze the harvest until the emptying of the haul-outs, nor before the raw material is available to be loaded, because this means stopped machine and inefficiency", explains the president of Hexagon's Agriculture division.

This technology also has the ability to decide the destination and route of each new trip by applying a dispatch optimisation algorithm, aiming to generate savings and productivity. At the end of the day, the idea is to have been able to transport as much raw material as possible with the least number of locomotions. 

4 - Cargo tracking to the industry

Raw material tracking on the way to the industry is also a way to optimise logistics and avoid losses. “In the past, this was done with manual notes and identification tags. But imagine in the scenario of a giant production area, with hundreds of machines working on intense activities of displacements and transfers of raw material on the same day. It's very easy to get lost in this tracking," says Bernardo.  

When automated, tracking is more secure and agile, as it is done through advanced communication features, which take information from the harvesters' displays to the industries' systems. Data such as the ID of the equipment and machine operators are provided by the solution, accompanied by complete details of the harvest telemetry, which helps to avoid losses in the next harvest. "Knowing exactly which area of the plot that product came from, it is possible to verify whether the investment made and the techniques applied generated results or not, which helps management to define future strategies," he adds.