ifm efector systems help Goldacres advance

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Technologies developed by ifm efector were a perfect match for the team at Goldacres when developing its showpiece G-Hub system

As technology in farm machinery grows and evolves, the ‘brains’ inside this equipment requires human minds in the development process to make it all possible.

For Victorian sprayer manufacturer Goldacres, it was the simple and intuitive nature of ifm efector’s systems which made them the supplier of choice for the ‘brains’ inside its showpiece G-Hub system.

The relationship between the two companies dates back about four years when ifm’s Ronel Lal contacted Goldacres at the same time the manufacturer was looking at a control system for its G6 sprayer.

ifm’s control systems and screens give farmers access to a wealth of information

Goldacres was so happy with the final design and integration of the ifm control system that they chose ifm again for the newly released Prairie Pro Series 2 sprayers and plans to also use ifm’s systems in its next rollout of the G-Hub.

"It’s basically a full dashboard of everything that’s going on with the sprayer," Goldacres sales manager Stephen Richards says.

"They are quick and trouble free as well, very reliable.

"Finding faults quickly and easily is a big plus with the ifm control system because it is so intuitive and easy to use. It’s a simple system but it works really well.

"It’s really user friendly and tells the customer everything they need to know about what’s going on with their sprayer."

The control system keeps the operator fully informed about the machine’s current operating status and condition, ifm says, and it also flags issues immediately to pinpoint and troubleshoot on the spot instead of having to contact the dealer to arrange a technician to visit their farm, often located some distance away.

ifm efector, a company with more than 50 years of history in design and development of sensing and systems technologies and whose global headquarters is in Germany, has a strong Australian footprint with a national head office in Melbourne and offices in every Australian state.

It manufactures a range of technical products which can be used on farms and many farmers may already be using products designed and manufactured by ifm without realising it.

One example is the O3M Smart Sensor (three dimensional imaging sensor), which provides a precision guidance system for tractors, while the company’s newest product – the Agri-Mate – allows ISOBUS-compatible tractors and implements to be linked without costly and time-consuming manufacturer development.

By providing a custom solution for Goldacres’ G-Hub control, ifm was able to implement several custom features based on what was requested.

One of these is the ability to fill the sprayer by simply pushing a button, rather than turning on taps, aided by an auto-shutoff mode.

There is also a touch screen in the G-Hub which has an image of the sprayer’s joystick and allows the user to override the joystick in case of an error with one of the buttons.

A host of vital sprayer data is also available to customers through the ifm-designed screens, Richards says.

"It doesn’t replace the sprayer rate controller, but it shows everyone what’s going on so you see the tank volume, how much is in the rinse water tank, you can turn your rapid flow on, your agitator on and it has a reversing camera built into it," he says.

Goldacres are using ifm’s control systems in the G-Hub

A golden match

Reflecting on the company’s relationship with Goldacres, Lal – a sales engineer with ifm – says the traits which stood out to the sprayer manufacturer remain at the forefront of ifm’s philosophy.

"The requirement was for a state of art technology with the HMI (human machine interface) in a controller and a system from a proven supplier," Lal says.

"From a quality standpoint, it’s a system that you can rely on and is rated for rugged and harsh environments.

"We have a good track record with after sales support as well, so it’s not about just selling parts to a customer and walking away.

"I got invited to the site to have a look and prepare a proposal on what was being requested, and from there I involved our Australian technical team for the design and implementation.

"The winner really was the HMI, which was brand new back then.

"That was what stood us apart from the competitors, and it still does. It’s been a win-win."

Describing the relationship between ifm and Goldacres as a win-win seems fitting.

For Goldacres, it has provided them with high-quality control systems for its machines which tick all the boxes for its requirements.

According to Lal, the benefits for ifm have been numerous.

"The advantages we have seen is our increased exposure in the agricultural industry, because Goldacres are known nationally as a premium manufacturer of agricultural sprayers," he says.

"That’s really given us a boost or thumbs up with other potential customers and people know us and respect us more.

"When we worked with Goldacres, it was good that they had very competent engineers and programmers and they gave us some really good feedback.

"Back then our HMI was quite new, so Goldacres really pushed the screen to its performance level that they required, and for us it was good to have that collaboration early on as well."

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