In the Shop
As a farm machinery mechanic and writer, Dan brings a hands-on approach that only a pro can muster. Along with his In the Shop blog, Dan writes a column by the same name as well as the Shop Series for Farm Journal magazine. Always providing practical information, he is a master at tackling technical topics and making them easy for all of our readers to understand. He and his wife, Becky, live near Bouton, Iowa.
What Will Be "Factory" In The Future?
Mar 23, 2014
I was a teenager when a local farmer got a new 4520 Deere tractor, complete with a "factory" cab. It seemed a stretch of the imagination when that farmer declared that, "Someday, every tractor will come from the factory with a cab."
Thirty years later, I installed in a combine one of the first aftermarket yield monitors sold at our dealership. The programming and calibrating was intimidating. The results were sporadic and nobody knew how to use the information. A few mechanics chuckled when the regional representive for our dealership's manufacturer boldly stated that, "In a few years every combine will come from the factory with a yield monitor--and more."
In the past year, many tractors sold at our dealership have been pre-wired for various kinds of high technology that connects each machine continuously with the farm office, the dealership, the local co-op, heck, maybe with Mars and Venus, for all I know. Very few farmers pay the fee to enable the technology, very few see value in all the interconnectivity. One of our young mechanics who understands all the new technology told me, "In a few years, you're going to be fixing machines in the field without every leaving the shop."
Tractors with cabs were more expensive than tractors without cabs, but farmers quickly learned to appreciate heaters, air conditioners and assorted creature comforts. The price of yield monitors is now buried in the base price of new combines, but many farmers would feel lost without a continuous feed of yield and moisture as they harvest crops. In the future, tractors and combines and sprayers will be wirelessly linked and capable of exchanging information that we didn't know we wanted or needed to exchange.
Innovation and technology are wonderful, making our lives easier and hopefully increasing yields and improving profits. It's going to be interesting to see what we come to expect as "factory" in the future, and how much we're willing to pay for it.