The COVID-19 pandemic led to a drastic shift in the importance of virtual tools, as the world rushed to adopt and embrace remote work — including farmers. Farmers at the medium- to large-scales who use complex machinery on their farms, however, depend on the in-person support from equipment manufacturers to ensure their machines operate optimally.
With safety measures like shelter-in-place and social distancing enacted in response to the pandemic, associates for manufacturers had to embrace virtual assistance for their clients. John Deere dealers in Latin America pivoted to a remote model, with measurable success.
Preparing for virtual services
Many dealers had been preparing for the growth in adoption of technologies like Remote Display Access, which enable dealers to remotely assist customers with optimization and setup to get the machine in the field to do the job. John Deere dealers in Latin American locations have been establishing Operations Support Centers in their dealerships for several years. A total of 71 Operations Support Centers have opened to provide centralized, proactive services to John Deere customers.
These dealers provide support using John Deere Connected Support™, which allows dealers to remotely monitor and proactively service machines. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, these centers were able to ramp up services, and several even offered free access to their Operations Support Center during the first part of the pandemic.
Tools employed virtually during the pandemic
In March and April, when social distancing guidelines and stay-at-home orders rolled out, proactive connections of John Deere Connected Support™ tools rose approximately 200%. These proactive connections include three technologies:
- Remote Display Access: Dealers remotely assist with optimization and setup to get the machine in the field to do the job.
- Service Advisor Remote: Dealers remotely diagnose trouble codes and perform software updates for faster repairs.
- Expert Alerts: Proactive monitoring allowing technicians to diagnose and resolve issues before they become a problem.
Because harvest windows are tight, virtual services can assist in reducing down time due to mechanical issues. In Argentina, farmers using John Deere Connected Support™ were able to set up their combines in advance.
- Pre-season calibrations were done using Remote Display Access plus phone support from John Deere dealers.
- Service Advisor Remote was used to record and monitor combine machine performance throughout harvest.
- Expert Alerts and Service Advisor Remote saved a visit to the customer and enabled a yield sensor to be fixed.
Even outside the context of the pandemic, virtual tools and remote technology can be a boon for farmers with connected machines. By monitoring machines remotely and diagnosing problems before a harvest, delays are less likely to disrupt the critical work of farmers and producers, keeping them on track to feed the growing population.