Monitoring production in real-time is not just for large farms: technology allows tracking machines by cell phone

Accessible to small producers, operation ensures increased efficiency of operations, more savings, safety and productivity

A man with cell phone in his hand.

22 March 2023

Imagine a large room, with several screens monitoring different operations in real-time. This could be the description of an airport control tower, but this type of management is already a reality in many companies. Receiving planting, handling, or harvesting data in real-time, centrally monitoring operations in the field, brings more savings, safety and productivity. Combining precision agriculture and telemetry, tracking and monitoring systems for agricultural machinery help save fuel and inputs, through map visualisation, with alerts of irregularities, incidents, performance problems, or any divergence from operations planning.

However, monitoring technology is not restricted to control rooms in large companies. It is also possible to monitor production using a cell phone or tablet, for example. According to Alexandre Alencar, Director of Research and Development at Hexagon's Agriculture division, small producers, despite working with a smaller number of machines on their properties, have the same concerns. It is alerted if it is not running properly. He won't have a control room with several operators, but he can receive alerts on his cell phone: when a piece of equipment stopped working, the machine left the cultivation line, or when it didn't perform an activity properly, for example”, explains.

Productivity control
One of the main benefits of technology pointed out by Alexandre is productivity control. When you have a machine with sensors and monitoring software, you can check data such as tracking the machine's path, start and end time of the activity, average speed of the path, stops and maneuvers, how much was planted or harvested, and so on. “With this information, managers are able to monitor the performance of the machines and control productivity with more precise decisions, such as changing a certain route or reducing idle time. It is also possible to check the individual performance of operators, which helps in managing the efficiency of the team”, he explains. One of the consequences is the increase in direct profit generated by production, since the reduction of periods when machines are not working ends up reducing fuel and personnel expenses, in addition to optimizing processes. “It is possible to register second by second the position and the activity that is being carried out in the cultivation and harvest, generating reports on yield, productivity, distance and speed”, details the director.

Up-to-date prevention and more safety for operations
Another reason to monitor farm machinery is to anticipate equipment maintenance needs. With the aid of technologies such as Big Data and parts exchange records, operation execution time and mileage traveled, it is easier to schedule the appropriate repairs, avoiding unforeseen events. “If a harvester breaks down in the middle of the process, it will be a huge waste of time and resources. Monitoring also allows configuring alerts for specific situations, such as, for example, if the indicated speed for execution is exceeded by the operators”, exemplifies Alexandre. The raw material tracking technology also ensures more security. The solution is installed in harvesters, transshipment tractors and truck trailers and allows tracking the raw material from its origin, in the field, to the final delivery in the industry.