A leading global manufacturer of agricultural heavy equipment, tractors and lawn mowers (identity protected).
Professional landscaping businesses run their small-to-massive operations with tons of vehicles, mowers and tractors. Efficiency and run-time are obviously very important to owners and managers of these companies.
Thus our client asked how we could apply emerging technologies (analytics, sensors and software) to make better equipment and create financially valuable efficiencies for commercial agriculture businesses? How could we engineer an edge over competitor products through technology in a world of relatively basic machines?
Our process took our engineers, researchers and designers out of the office and knee deep into the weeds. Getting directly into the thick of things.
We met with various pro landscapers to gain an informed understanding of their day-to-day activities. This included making service blueprints and building customer journey maps for this portion of our research. We essentially walked a mile in the shoes of the customer teams and identified pain points and opportunities to enhance competitive advantage – specifically mapping out service routes and resource management plans which could be tightened up with technology.
We then asked questions and looked at every moving part of the team from the people on the crews, crew leaders, office staff, schedulers, dispatchers, planners, equipment managers, owners and others. Depending on the size of the organization, whether it’s a small operation or a large multilevel corporation, we cut not corners. Instead, we dig into the deepest layers of data to develop a fundamental understanding of processes and needs – always looking for areas of improvement, invention and development.
We designed an array of advanced sensors and integrated them into the machines and into light wearable vests for landscaping crews – providing the game-changing ability to collect data across an operation in real time. The data included details such as property data and schematics, and we designed and developed a user-friendly software dashboard to centralize, visualize and measure the data in terms that a landscaper can understand.
Instantly, managers could determine which mowers are running more efficiently, manage downtime, coordinate routes and schedules, monitor worker safety and capabilities, maximize fueling strategies, predict equipment attrition and machine maintenance needs and more.
The innovation pushed our client into new territory, carving out a competitive value over rival manufacturers in the minds of their highly coveted professional landscaping customer profile.
In this case, arriving at our outcome began with testing – executed to vet the value proposition of solutions in real world situations with real PLCs in the field. This vetting allowed us to verify, confirm and fill any remaining gaps around the capabilities of the hardware and software integration.
From there we entered into an experimentation phase, taking into consideration price point, power consumption, hardware limitations, software capabilities and other mitigating factors.
These discoveries culminated in the last phase, where the product becomes reality and all the foundational work and iterations along the way are applied resulting in having a successful product debut.
Our engineers were successful in providing a true partnership engagement that incorporated our client’s team seamlessly into every step of the process. We achieved this through weekly meetings, client calls, in-office collaborations and constant communication, every step of the way.
Our relationship with this client has accelerated since this first product development as we continue pushing for further advancement along their product lines – including electrification of vehicles and even bigger applications, including product automation.
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