Project Details

Adding precision and reliability to the crop nurturing process.

CHALLENGE

Technological advancements in the agricultural industry have made concepts like “precision agriculture” and “site specific crop management” more commonplace. Companies that can ensure the delivery of precise amounts of water, fertilizer, and other inputs to a field are more likely to thrive in this environment. To remain an industry leader in agricultural high-flow systems, the customer came to Compass Electronics Solutions to improve the efficacy of the software system used by their technicians. The system, used to apply nutrient mixtures to crops, adds precision and reliability to the crop nurturing process.

Prior to our involvement, the customer’s technicians relied on a software system that used a single screen to monitor and control every aspect of the application system. However, the first iteration of this software system couldn’t effectively control these pumps. The software would often shut down unexpectedly and could only refresh every 1.5 seconds — unacceptable for a task that required constant real-time feedback.

The customer wanted the next iteration of this software to be a reliable, user-friendly technology that users could quickly understand.

SOLUTION

Compass Electronics Solutions software engineers and designers were asked to help create the new version of the customer’s applicator software. The Compass Electronics Solutions software engineering team first analyzed the full system and explored how different cloud-based solutions could fit the new system’s requirements.

The team worked closely with the customer to understand how to achieve real-time updating and response times, increased reliability, and the ability to “blueprint” future application jobs. Our systems level approach allowed software engineers to confirm these upgrades were both feasible and strategic.

These requirements led our team to incorporate status indicators for each individual pump in an application system to give the technician precision and transparency into where malfunctions had occurred. This meant faster diagnosis and repair when issues with the system arose.

To ensure that the system possessed real-time reliability, software engineers used Azure Cloud technology in their upgrades to the customer’s existing software package. Compass Electronics Solutions performed PLC (programmable logic controller) Codesys work to help interface the existing sensors to the new version of the software. This enabled the system to receive telemetry straight from the pumps every half-second instead of every 1.5 seconds—a critical difference when managing heavy machinery as it pumps out gallons of fluid per second.

Additionally, Compass Electronics Solutions designers developed a more user-friendly interface for the new platform. Using feedback from technicians, Compass Electronics Solutions created a new, more robust, and easy-to-navigate software package. The team even incorporated the customer’s branded color scheme into the visuals and added icons that looked like actual pumps to represent every individual pump in the application system.

The design team’s new dashboard incorporated a “one-page” contiguous design for easier and faster navigation between dashboard screens without having to wait for pages to load. The new software was also designed for a touch-screen interface, as our customer typically shipped their customers a Microsoft Surface Pro tablet for applicator set up, monitoring, and management.

RESULT

The new implementation of the system was introduced to their pump control infrastructure in late 2016 and reached end users in time for the spring 2017 growing season. Users found the software solution Compass Electronics Solutions created to be more responsive and intuitive; what used to take a whole summer for users to learn now only takes 30 minutes.

The customer relied on Compass Electronics Solutions for continuing software engineering support and re-engaged with Compass Electronics Solutions on new business opportunities and additional feature development in 2017. One of these new projects involved additional geographic information system (GIS) updates to the software that would add the ability to mark permanent and non-permanent fixtures within customers’ crop fields.

CUSTOMER PROFILE

This customer is an innovator of agricultural pumping systems that develops and manufactures complete systems of equipment to pump liquid through lay-flat hoses. The customer also operates a nutrient application service division that applies almost one quarter-billion gallons of slurry annually to their clients’ fields.

Adding precision and reliability to the crop nurturing process.
View more case studies.
View Embedded Solutions.

  • Project Name Adding precision and reliability to the crop nurturing process.
  • Client INNOVATOR OF AGRICULTURE PUMPING SYSTEMS