Farm Machinery, Smart Tech

Data driven success with ifm’s moneo platform

Irrigation system watering a crop of soy beans at field

Australian farms are seeing the benefit of moneo in many ways, as ifm’s showpiece platform continues to develop

Technology continues to change agriculture, and as new concepts evolve and become refined, data can provide solutions beyond what had been first thought.

One great example of this is ifm efector’s moneo platform.

Developed as an automation solution for factories and industries such as food and beverage manufacturing, it has found its way on to Australian farms and is providing customers with access to a wealth of data they would not have otherwise had.

This is also the kind of data that is not adding complexity and headaches to a farmer’s daily life, but is instead removing headaches which would have cost plenty of time and money had moneo not detected certain problems before they escalated.

“What ifm aims to do is help connect different assets together on the farm,” ifm Australia’s national Internet of Things (IoT) business manager Freddie Coertze says.

“This can include irrigation pumps, the level of silos and systems that can detect moisture content in hay bales.

“It is very easy because all the technology we had in a factory environment can now be deployed on farms.

“ifm specialises in a lot of mobile equipment as well, so even if farmers have moving assets like trucks and tractors, then diesel levels and those kinds of things can easily be integrated into the same platform as well.”

Artificial intelligence is a concept growing in popularity much wider than just the agricultural world, so it is little surprise that ifm’s moneo platform has tapped into this as it develops.

“The moneo platform can enable farmers to enjoy the benefits of artificial intelligence as well, because AI is now built into the platform,” Coertze says.

“This means you don’t need a data scientist or to pay someone to develop these algorithms for you, because moneo provides that out of the box.

“Once you’ve got your data into the platform, you can then deploy an AI model that can look at certain patterns.

“You can look at certain things and try and predict certain behaviours of equipment, processes, or levels.

“That makes it easier for the farmer to just click a few buttons and they can get an algorithm written, so it’s basically self-service content.”

Out in the Field

ifm’s moneo platform is not just a fancy concept which might sound good in theory but will never see the light of day on an Australian farm – far from it. It is already here and already solving problems.

Coertze cites one practical example of a large farming group which grows almonds along the Murray River in a roughly 400km stretch from Mildura to near Griffith.

ifm has deployed remote sensors on approximately 480 pumps for this group, which is being monitored through a Cloud platform.

Whenever there is cavitation in the pump, or certain vibrations are being picked up, this sends an alert which means the pump in question can be inspected.

“If that doesn’t happen, the worst-case effect could be that they don’t have proper irrigation and could lose the product being grown,” Coertze says.

Any broadacre farmer knows the vast expanses of land their properties cover, and the extreme distances that are travelled for maintenance.

Using that example of the 480 pumps being monitored over a 400km stretch – and the ability to immediately pinpoint issues when and where they happen – shows a very clear example of moneo’s benefit.

“This will alert you if anything goes under specification,” Coertze says.

“By having connectivity down to that level, you don’t have to drive there to regularly check – you just open up your phone on the dashboard and you can see your pump health, you can see your water tank levels and everything on the fly.”

Ifm’s specialty is data, and the company knows how many ways this information can benefit farmers.

Another example related to pumps has been through moneo’s ability to track how many hours each individual pump has operated.

In situations where multiple pumps might exist in one shed, this enables farmers to balance the load evenly between each.

This can lead to money saving benefits, Coertze says, as farmers can run each pump to a certain number of hours before servicing – rather than just relying on a pre-determined service interval when one or more pumps might not actually require the service.

Data Driven

Sometimes the practical uses of moneo can lead to benefits ifm was not even expecting.

Coertze describes another example of a farm in Queensland which was using moneo for power monitoring, and keeping track of how much energy was being used.

“The biggest benefit this particular farm actually had was discovering the power quality they got from the supplier wasn’t of the highest quality,” he says.

“By putting in some additional equipment to monitor it onto moneo, they could now detect and say ‘you’re not giving me the right power that I’m actually paying for’ and get that corrected.”

The agriculture industry is historically well-known for using personal experience and local knowledge when making many decisions, which naturally comes into conflict with a data-based approach.

Coertze says it has been a focus for ifm to ensure the platform is easy to both set up and operate, with no complex technological knowledge required.

“The biggest benefit of moneo for farmers is making better informed decisions because often they will go on a rule of thumb,” he says.

“Farmers will say things like ’my dad has done it this way and I’ve done it this way. I know how to operate this equipment, how to fill the tank or how to look after the irrigation lines’, but it is based on a gut feeling.

“With everything rapidly changing, you can’t rely on that gut feeling anymore.

“Technology is helping farmers to get additional and true insights from the equipment, and they can actually act on it.

“Normally they would go and drive long distances to look at things, inspect things or switch things on and off.

“With moneo, everything comes to one dashboard on a PC or on a phone. They can access all this equipment on the fly, which makes life easier for them.”

One final hurdle which can prevent farmers from taking advantage of the data available to them is through network access.

“I feel like that’s sometimes the stumbling block for farmers,” Coertze says.

“We’ve got partners that can help us with designing a proper wireless network, and ifm can come and consult and help to build the right solution tailored for the farm.

“We’ll go down there and assess the area and talk with our partners. Maybe we get the right radio equipment there or maybe we do some form of Wi-Fi link – but either way we will recommend the right equipment to farmers get that connectivity.”

Ifm’s moneo platform is available by contacting the company via www.ifm.com/au

Send this to a friend