With farmers placing more emphasis on getting more economic return on investment from their technology and equipment, they will also increase service expectations, says Kevin Depies, manager with Ritchie Implement, a 4-store Case IH dealership in Wisconsin.
Working with a good volume of dairy customers, Depies says their operational habits and methods will likely gain traction with row-crop farmers, in terms of needing equipment to be continuously operational as it becomes more automated.
Robotic milkers have been around for about 10 years and Depies says it’s common for farmers to come into their stores for parts, while their cows are being milked back on the farm.
Customers might get a text on their phone that milker number 3 has an issue. Most of them don’t rush off to the parlor, Depies says. They call the company that sold and services the equipment and lets them know about the problem.
Time of day is irrelevant, and he’s talked to a few of his dairy customers who have gotten notifications after midnight of a piece of equipment that is down and they will call their dairy equipment dealer to come out at 4 or 5 a.m. to check it.
He sees the same type of model coming to the ag equipment dealer where someone will be expected to be available 24/7 to solve a problem, especially if it’s an automated piece of equipment that is expected to cover ‘X’ number of acres in ‘X’ amount of time.
“I really think that bar and that expectation is going to keep going up and we’re going to have to get into a 24-7 support base operation because as we get into automation, I don’t see the ability to be automated with the large scale or equipment we have today. But I also don’t see it being micro-machinery. Maybe it will be 12-row equipment instead of 24-row. But it’s going to run around the clock.”
He adds that this type of service will be a necessity when it comes to in-season support for customers to ensure uptime in the field.