Continuing a recent pattern of diverse agricultural acquisitions, Sunnyvale, Calif.-based Trimble Navigation purchased privately held IRON Solutions. Although financial terms were not disclosed, the acquisition, announced in December, adds another dimension to Trimble’s data management platform for farmers, precision farming dealers and agronomic retailers.
The Franklin, Tenn.-based IRON Solutions provides analytics-based intelligence and a cloud-based software system that tracks the lifecycle of used farm machinery, using sales metrics to include specifications, options and adjustments for condition and hours of use. The company also provides pricing specifications that enable original equipment manufacturers to manage product configuration and promotion for their dealers, along with optimization tools for equipment and precision dealers.
According to Joe Denniston, vice president of Trimble’s Agricultural Division, the integration of the IRON Solutions’ suite of services into the Connected Farm platform will help equip dealers and agronomic retailers with a broader set of real-time analytical tools to help improve maintenance scheduling or fleet management through telematic services and improved agronomic services.
“What IRON Solutions brings to the table is a cloud-based customer relationship management (CRM/ERP) tool that allows dealers, without a lot of capital outlay, to significantly improve internal operations, which in turn allows for greater focus on the farmer,” Denniston says. “Coupled with some of our existing services, we can uniquely position our dealers to improve customer service in the future.”
Particularly valuable to Trimble’s dealer network will be the IRON HQ and Precision HQ systems, which will help provide cloud-based, real-time wireless tracking of machinery to allow for more efficient troubleshooting and preventative maintenance. IRON Solutions manages over 15 million data points annually from over 1,200 manufacturers and over 2,200 retail sources throughout North America, and Denniston notes that the volume of aggregated information will be a valuable resource for dealers to monitor machinery performance.
“It won’t be a rapid integration of the HQ products, but we will look at how to strategically develop the tools into our system incrementally,” he says. “It all starts and ends with the farmers and figuring out how we can help their advisors be more efficient within their supply chain, which in turn makes farmers more productive and profitable.”
Another critical part of the acquisition will be maintaining the independent reputation of IRON Guides, which is considered the industry standard for tracking prices and valuation of used farm equipment. The resource contains more than 4,000 makes and models of equipment annually.
“It’s been the standard for valuation of used equipment within dealer networks and a neutral, trusted source in the industry,” notes Denniston. “That needs to continue and will be one of our objectives.”
The acquisition of IRON Solutions is the latest in a string of additions Trimble has made to diversify its precision interests.
In 2013, the company acquired the assets of privately-held RainWave, a precipitation monitoring firm in Auburn, Ala., and incorporated the service into its Connected Farm platform. Also in 2013, Trimble acquired New Zealand company IQ Irrigation, which provides remote linear and pivot irrigation control and Madison, Wis.-based C3, a soil health and data information company.
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