Farmer Iron

Future Electronics Get Push

New alliance aims to promote specific standard for ag tech for the future.

Hooking an implement to the tractor has often been considered more an issue of finding a good hitch pin, but these days that's changing a lot. Several years ago I remember being at a Case IH event where to make a point about the change they sent all the editors that were to attend a hitch pin (a very nice one by the way that I gave to my farmer-brother-in-law).

 

Their point was that the simple hitch pin was no longer the main connection between tractor and implement. And that was in the late 1990s.

 

We all know that hooking up a planter to the tractor means throwing a monitor into the cab to manage the implement. Running a baler might mean bringing in that monitor too. What if you could hook up an implement, any implement, and all you would do is connect the implement to a link on the tractor cab. All the information for that implement would become available on the already-installed cab monitor?

 

That's the goal of ISOBUS - an electronics communication standard that's more common in Europe than in North America. ISOBUS sets the protocols that machinery uses to send data to monitors so that you could hook up an Agco-Hesston baler to your Case IH tractor and operate the baler from the tractor cab without adding a monitor. That's the goal anyway.

 

In fact, the standard is slowly coming to market and manufacturers want more involvement in its promotion. That's led to the creation of the Agricultural industry Electronics Foundation, which is an alliance between the North America-based Association of Equipment Manufacturers and Germany's VDMA (which stands for German Engineering Federation - or Verband Deutscher Maschinen- und Anlagenbau).

 

The aim of the AEF is to "serve as an independent organization to support and promote implementation of agricultural electronics standards that have been developed and adopted by the international community." That's a big task given that some manufacturers like "custom" electronics that keep you as a captive customer, but that's got issues too. Supporting a proprietary electronics standard can be a challenge, while standardization can boost reliability and ease of use for the industry.

 

Here are a few target areas the foundation is setting up with six initial project groups:

  • Conformance Testing
  • Functional Safety
  • Implementation Levels
  • Service/Diagnostics (a real important one from my perspective)
  • Sequence Control
  • Communications/Marketing

 

The foundation has an interesting challenge ahead. We'll keep you posted on what we learn.

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