The days of a single farmer with a tractor operating as a viable agricultural manufacturing business are rapidly fading.
Today, success in agriculture relies as much on accurate data, automation and robotics, and integrated physical and digital systems as on the weather. As technology and innovation bring new tools to the agriculture industry, business leaders need to be able to separate the high-risk fads from the opportunities for improvement and efficiency.
Agriculture Manufacturing Trends
Finding clarity around the trend hype can be difficult. Here are the factors impacting agriculture and initiatives that can improve efficiency and provide cost savings for your business.
Leverage Data and Sensors to Increase Efficiency
Modern manufacturing is as much about information as it is about production. With the right data, manufacturers can identify problems before they become a crisis. Improved efficiency is possible when you can see how actions impact processes. The problem for many manufacturers, including agriculture businesses, is that you must build a system for collecting and using that data. You need to filter out the unnecessary data and share the data that matters where it's most needed.
Agribusinesses are already exploring ways to use data:
- Remote drones use AI and aerial photography to actively and quickly identify crop health and the optimal time to harvest.
- Dairy companies and other food and beverage manufacturers use remote monitoring and control systems to manage compressed air systems, reduce energy costs, and prevent catastrophic system failures.
- Networked field sensors passively collect data on soil health, fertilizer, moisture, and more. Data fed to AI systems helps in decision-making to increase crop yield.
There’s never been a better time to address production challenges with data. Start by assessing your opportunities, then set goals for using the data.
Increase Output with Preventative Maintenance
For as long as the agriculture industry has used tools, there’s been a need for preventative maintenance. However, as equipment prices have increased, utilizing a significant portion of allotted equipment budgets, the need for preventative maintenance to preserve equipment has also increased. But, too often, businesses overlook maintenance. A mistake or equipment failure can be extraordinarily costly.
Sensors and machine tracking systems can help identify problems before there is a failure. Working with a supplier or service provider with expertise in machine maintenance can also prevent problems. Set up a regular maintenance program with the service provider.
Leasing rather than purchasing equipment is another strategy some manufacturers are taking. This might incur a short-term higher cost, but it will ensure that you use the best equipment for your needs and prevent the sunk costs of continual repairs for older machines.
Reduce Costs with Automation and Robotics
Agriculture manufacturers are already using robots.
The market for agriculture robots was estimated at $7.7 billion in 2022. Analysts predict the market will reach $24 billion by 2030.
This push toward automation isn’t just about increasing efficiency but also reducing labor costs. The work of spraying crops, once done manually by several people or through a team in a helicopter, can now be completed by a drone and a single operator. Finishing systems for equipment manufacturers also use automated paint booths to decrease labor costs and reduce paint usage. These are just a few examples of how agriculture businesses and manufacturers are using robotics.
While there’s tremendous opportunity in robotics and automation, leveraging existing expertise in implementing solutions is essential. Find a partner you can trust to work with you on a project. Their experience and resources can reduce the pain and frustration you may feel when integrating a new tool or automation system into production. They can also provide recommendations and insight as you design a solution around your needs.
Reduce Risk with Shipping and Delivery Security
One key takeaway from the challenges businesses faced during COVID was the inherent risk in our supply chains. Even an agricultural business supplying local companies isn’t immune to that risk.
Assess your risk by conducting a supply chain audit. Are your partners and distributors taking action to protect your products? Look at pumps and refrigeration units for your distributors and suppliers. Are they in good working order, and do they have a backup in case of an issue? Make sure they are secure and fully operational. Identify risks and mitigate problems before they happen.
Don’t assume your supply chain and distribution network is secure. Don’t wait to set up an alternative until a problem happens. Action now can prevent a catastrophic dilemma in the future.
Embracing Change Means Success
In the past, change has been slow to creep through the manufacturing industry. For the agriculture industry, change was even slower.
Today, manufacturing success often means rapidly embracing change and implementing operational flexibility. It means working with experts to identify and solve challenges to ensure cost-efficient, effective, and safe production.
Do you have questions or want to look at your options for turnkey production solutions? Contact the team at OTC today. We have the resources and expertise on hand to deliver for you. Let’s get started.
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