Home' Position : Position Dec Jan 2015 Contents Left: Mike the Caney
using Esri's Collector app.
Bottom left: The webmap
shows near real-time
the locations of all the
The HRIC has also created web
maps that show the locations of all the
harvesters in near real-time. Clicking on a
harvester will bring up its dashboard.
"This has improved operational
visibility and communications: rather
than ringing a harvester to see what he's
doing, we just look at the map."
Crucially, the web map and
dashboards are linked to a business
reporting function, so that the operator
can also access critical business
information, and adjust any harvesting
schedules as necessary.
In addition to the efficiencies realised
by spatial analysis, HRIC has also made
tremendous savings by switching from
dedicated in-house hardware to the cloud.
"I'm almost evangelical about the
cloud; it's made such a difference," said
Raymond. "We are using Amazon cloud
now, where before we had physical
servers. At the time, there were lots of
things going around on why not to use
the cloud, but I wish I'd switched 12
"Running costs went from about $15000
per month to around $3000-$5000 per
month, depending on how much we use
them. It's an advantage in every area: in
terms of costs, and in terms of flexibility."
One great thing about HRIC's approach
to GIS is that it's applicable in almost
every form of agriculture.
"All agriculture industries have a pretty
similar supply chain. We've looked at
cotton, oil palms, wine -- the same systems
and solutions are applicable to other
industries. In fact, we've been running the
same system for Treasury Wine Estates at
McLaren Vale in South Australia, and will
be for Wolf Blass in 2015.
"The Esri enterprise suite perfectly
suits the environment we have in the ag-
riculture industry. The platform supports
the whole supply chain approach."
Raymond has had little trouble
communicating the benefits of GIS to
stakeholders and interested parties -- after
all, GIS' strength isn't just in its ability to
analyse, but also to communicate.
"GIS is a brilliant communications tool
-- not just a data collection or analysis tool
-- it's a brilliant tool for communicating to
different industry stakeholders.
"These analyses are based on fact, and
by communicating this, you can drive those
changes for real productivity changes." ■
a vast amount of data from all stages
of production. The analyses performed
on this data have been responsible for
millions of dollars in annual savings and
cane productivity improvements.
"We collect data on: age of cane; rate
and method of fertiliser, herbicides, and
pesticides; pest and disease info; soil
analysis info, and much more. With all this
information, we can do a stack of analyses.
"For example, what cane varieties grow
best in what soils -- analyses have shown
that if we match the right variety to the
right soil, we can pick up an estimated $5
million extra on a $225 million crop.
"Another really interesting spatial anal-
ysis that Mike conducted was on harvester
speed. It's always been suspected that the
speed of the harvester negatively impacts
the crop, but never proven.
"Now, with GPS on harvesters and
yield from a block, Mike found an almost
perfect correlation between the speed of
a cane harvester and the yield of the fol-
lowing year's harvest. The cane harvester
damages the root stock (the stool) of a
crop if you drive it too quickly. Just by
slowing a harvester down to best practice
speeds, we can increase our crop yield by
$20 million on a $225 million crop.
"These kinds of analysis have
made it possible to create real dollar
value through efficiency measures or
"We can only do these analyses with
GIS. The key point is not to think of this
as just precision agriculture -- it's fitting
GIS into all aspects of the business. It's
a business tool that can add significant
value to the industry."
Of course, GIS analysis also has
applications outside of planting and
monitoring growth -- it's perfectly suited
for supply chain optimisation.
"Our GIS very heavily matches our busi-
ness requirements, and that dictates where
our investment in GIS lies: we see the most
'bang for buck' in supply chain optimisation.
"When you monitor all the activities of
a cane harvester, you can look at the data
and see that, for example, a harvester only
spent 31% of its time actually cutting cane.
"It's otherwise waiting around, backing
up etc., so you can modify its harvesting
patterns to maximise harvesting time. To
further increase efficiency, we use GPS
systems in the trains, so we can say exact-
ly when the cane bins will arrive, so that
the harvester isn't idly waiting for them.
"All of these systems are brought
together into a single corporate
environment, so that everything is timed
together. This is the benefit of taking a
regional or whole of industry approach."
Tying these systems together are a
series of custom dashboards that allow
operators -- both at HRIC and in the field
-- increased operational visibility.
"We have custom-designed dashboards
of different types. For instance, a
harvesting dashboard shows that 'this
particular harvesting group started
harvesting cane at 1am, have been
running for 6 hours, and have cut X
amount of cane' This has saved us a lot of
money in maintenance, as we know when
we are running harvesters too long."
20 position December/January 2015
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