From Traditional to Smart Farming
Industry 4.0 is often associated with smart factories within the chemical or automotive industry, but it also has a lasting impact on more traditional lines of work, such as the agricultural sector.
That is why today’s article will focus on the latest developments in smart farming – a field of interest Continental continues to expand its activities.
The impact of industry 4.0 is undisputable across industries. Also, the agricultural sector is becoming increasingly smart: an important development considering current data and societal shifts:
These developments call for sustainable agricultural solutions that have a positive impact on key aspects such as productivity, irrigation options, and the profitability of individual farms to secure the food supply and livelihoods of current and future generations – a challenge Continental’s Off-Highway organization is trying to tackle in close cooperation with the agricultural industry.
The ambition of Continental’s Off-Highway organization is to create smart solutions for the industry- and future-relevant topics of digitalization, connectivity, and sustainability. For the agricultural industry, this objective is reflected in improving labor, machine, and soil efficiency by implementing transparent work processes and workflows:
"We look at the entire system in the process. At the same time, we focus on environmentally friendly agriculture and develop ideas for smart products and systems."
To address global and local challenges in the agricultural sector, Continental highly benefits from its cross-sector expertise of other Off-Highway areas, such as material handling and construction & mining, as well as from the passenger car and commercial vehicle industry. These insights concern learnings from material sciences, big data analytics, automation, and sensor technology that are integrated and leveraged to flexibly create tailor-made solutions for the agricultural sector. But also, the close collaboration with farmers worldwide plays a crucial role in the development process of smart farming solutions to better understand farmers’ needs and the challenges they are currently facing. The result are technologies that are based on local needs and enable efficient and sustainable use of local resources, help customers to harness and optimize production potential through digitalization, and thus improve the local and global agricultural supply chain from crop yields to individual farmer safety.
"We work hand in hand with local farmers around the world to develop digital technologies as well as vehicles that enable high-yield, efficient agricultural operations."
In this context, Continental understands itself as a development partner for the global agricultural sector as well as local farmers to provide an added value for the involved stakeholders and drive innovations within the agricultural business. This is not particularly surprising, considering where the company comes from: “Local farmers’ knowledge complements the expertise of the global agricultural sector. As an international technology company with roots in the German state of Lower Saxony, which is heavily dependent on agriculture, we see this every day in our fields and farmlands. That is why we work hand in hand with local farmers around the world to develop digital technologies, such as intelligent tires or monitoring systems for automated and connected machines, as well as vehicles that enable high-yield, efficient agricultural operations”, says Christian Kötz, member of Continental’s Executive Board responsible for the Tire division.
An example of a smart solution that already supports the agricultural transformation towards industry 4.0 is Continental’s fully electric and autonomous robotic equipment carrier Contadino, which can be fitted modularly for agricultural purposes and monitors the growth process of plants, weeds, sows, seeds, and delivers nutrients where needed.
Also, Continental’s ProViu 360 is a valuable solution to farmers. The digital camera system provides a meaningful 360° all-around view of the machine in HD resolution on a touch display and captures valuable information on the condition of the vehicle.
Besides, Continental is working on applying telematics hardware from other off-highway projects for the agricultural sector such as learnings concerning drone technology from the conveyor belt industry. The aim is to connect the farmers’ vehicles to the external environment such as the operators’ cloud, other vehicles, or the surrounding infrastructure.
Also, the tire’s section is evolving as Continental’s intelligent tires prove. They are equipped with VF (very high flexion) technology and sensors to continuously measure and monitor the tire’s condition to increase productivity, yield, and operator comfort while reducing fuel consumption, tire wear, downtime and maintaining costs.
The agricultural business is in the midst of a major transformation towards industry 4.0 that triggers challenges and provides huge opportunities at the same time. To benefit from synergies and establish long-term partnerships both, solution providers and farmers, must cooperate and closely work together on smart solutions. A successful example of this is the collaboration between Continental and the agricultural machinery manufacturer CLAAS. Both jointly worked on an intelligent drive belt that uses sensor technology to permanently monitor the drive belts’ condition in combines and facilitate predictive maintenance that way.
Head of Business Development Continental Off-Highway
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