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Koen Uytenhove is the IoT manager at AVR, a manufacturer of agricultural machinery for planting and harvesting potatoes. We discussed the importance of the Internet of Things for his company and the agricultural sector in general.
“For the last year, we’ve been increasingly focused on the digitization of our agricultural machinery. We fit our machines with sensors that collect data, that is forwarded to the cloud and Microsoft’s Azure IoT solution,” Koen Uytenhove explains.
What data do the sensors on your machines register?
“It includes data on the farming process itself, such as the number of potatoes harvested per square metre. The planting distance between potatoes is also recorded. We register technical data on the operation of the machine, so it’s like you’re sitting there driving it yourself. This technical data includes fuel consumption, oil pressure and temperature. We need to do software updates, but with IoT, we can do them all remotely now. Before, we couldn’t do updates if our machines were in operation; they had to be installed later. Nowadays, you do it on the go.”
What is your role?
“As IoT manager I head the IoT programme within AVR. I am in charge of project management. A design agency handles the technical execution. AVR’s CEO recruited me to coordinate this project.”
How important is this project to AVR?
“For us, it’s absolutely crucial. We are living in the age of smart farming. We have to make smarter use of the farmland we have at our disposal. That’s why our machines are fitted with a growing number of sensors that collect more data. We share this data with the farmer and use it to advise them. Our customers and the agricultural sector as a whole expect machines to become smarter. We cater to that demand.”
How do you see the future?
“Today we fit our machines with over 100 different sensors. They collect data on farming processes such as harvesting times and yield measurements, as well as the more technical aspects of our agricultural machinery. In the future, we will also map out the soil in greater detail. Another goal involves the proactive maintenance of our machines, enabling us to carry out preventive repairs. And finally, good support and remote adjustments are an important focal point.”
How does Orange fit into this story?
“Every new agricultural machine AVR manufactures has an Orange SIM card. Orange recognized our worldwide consumption, based on the number of gigabytes we use, and tailored a contract specially for us. Only major players like Orange can offer a global solution of this nature. We can also call on the extensive IoT expertise of the Belgian Orange team: a dedicated Business Manager is always at our beck and call.”
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