John Deere’s ambition to immerse both its products and its customers in a globe-spanning digital matrix with information at the finger tips of all those who choose to participate, took another step forward recently with news of a deal with Fusionware.

That the company is keen to transition from just a builder of tractors to a holistic supplier of farming mechanisation and its management is no secret, and this integration, we are assured, carries the plan forward.

Clarity required

Quite what is entailed and quite what it means to the average farmer is, though, a little more opaque, and the joint statement can present a challenge to customers who might lie outside the charmed loop of digital experts to whom understanding of computing matters comes more naturally.

First, we might address the question of just who or what Fusionware is. The company describes itself as “a leading end-to-end ‘cloud-based’ supply chain platform”.

Devive mobile phone record
The Fusionware interface displays any data recorded in the supply chain

Many might fall at this primary hurdle, yet perseverance suggests that it is a programme, as they used to be called, which encompasses and records all that happens to a product as it passes from field to shelf, in the food industry anyway.

This conclusion is supported by the mention of it being an API, which, as a little research confirms, stands for Application Programming Interface, a slice of wizardry that allows various computer programmes to get along nicely and talk to each other.

Purpose of Fusionware

The upshot being that, as far as can be made out, farmers equipped with a device upon which Fusionware is installed can check to see what mischief embroils their tractors without popping into the John Deere operations centre to do so.

In other words, it is another app by which machine activity can be monitored as well as any other information that is stored on the John Deere database, including precision agriculture data.

Tractor data john deere
Precision farming data can be recorded and managed by Fusionware along with tractor records and status

But why this extra layer of computing? It appears that Fusionware stretches right along the supply chain, so a farmer using it can link it to other systems that are of relevance to his operation, such as that of a feed mill or grain silo.

This, if one’s understanding is correct, is the kernel of the development and it may well carry potential for farmers should it eventually arrive in Ireland.

The opportunity to have all the farm business data pooled in one place and accessible through any device, be it a PC, tablet or mobile phone, may well be welcomed by larger growers, but it would have been so much easier if John Deere had just said so.