Ensure Machine Uptime During Harvest Season: How OEMs Can Help Farmers Spend Harvest Season in the Fields by Preventing Downtime

William Barkawi 13 Jun 2024 8 mins read

Table of Contents

ensure machine uptime during harvest season

Farmers spend the entire year cultivating crops, doing their best to ensure optimal output. They use all the tools available to them to protect their yield from pests, diseases, and more. The results of their hard work can only be seen in a small window of time. Once the crops are ready, farmers have a timeframe of a few weeks to a few months to collect the fruit, vegetables, or grains and distribute them to their customers. This tight turnaround demands 100% machine uptime. If that’s not achievable, at least stellar parts and service availability from both OEMs and dealers.  

Harvest season is the most intense and stressful period for any farmer because there is so much that can go wrong. Because of the time crunch and high yield goals, farmers rely on their farm equipment and machinery to survive harvest season. But machines are subjected to mechanical failure, part issue, or even standard wear-and-tear. If any of the machinery they depend on goes down the cost to that farmer can range from €10,000 to €25,000 per day 

The role of OEMs in reducing machine downtime

Even just one day of machinery downtime can jeopardize a farmer’s entire operational viability. Making things even more complex, the equipment designed and used in agriculture today is more advanced than ever. Those advancements enable superior production and harvesting capabilities. But additional technology can also mean that there are more opportunities for something to go wrong.  

When something does go wrong, which is bound to happen at some point, farmers rely on original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and dealers. They need to act fast to resolve the issue before it creates lasting damage. Some OEMs believe that it’s up to dealers to ensure machine uptime by solidifying part availability and service availability. In reality, it’s collaboration between OEMs and dealers that will truly help farmers prevent downtime during harvest season.  

Damage from Downtime Amongst OEMs 

When machine downtime damages farm productivity or damages all the harvest planning that went into the season, farmers will suffer. Food distributors like grocery stores will be impacted as well, and people all around the world will suffer because of potential shortages. The impact is monumental, but it doesn’t even stop there. Farmers will look to OEMs and dealers for answers. If they’re unable to provide support, OEMs will see a drop in sales, customer retention, and more.  

When OEMs lose their reputation as equipment providers that can help their customers mitigate downtime, they lose their foundational reliability. Some OEM leaders fall into the trap of thinking that managing service availability and parts availability falls on the dealers in isolation. While the reality is that OEM-to-dealer connectivity is the responsibility of both entities.  

harvest season

Ensuring Machine Uptime from Start to Finish 

Machine uptime is a fairly simple concept; it refers to when machinery and equipment are running smoothly. In short, it’s when they complete tasks they are designed to do, and help contribute to the overall success of their users’ operations. For farmers, when all the machinery they use – tractors, combines, harvesters, and seed drills – runs properly, they are more likely to achieve harvest goals. From a financial perspective, when they can maintain profitability and deliver on their customer commitments. However, there is a lot that goes into machine uptime. Generally, it’s dependent on OEMs and dealers doing their jobs with high levels of quality.  

To prevent downtime from the very start of a machine’s lifecycle, it’s crucial that OEMs have stringent quality control processes in place. If a tractor is made with poorly designed parts and faulty engineering, it’s likely to experience higher rates of downtime when it’s in use. This part seems like a no-brainer. But when OEMs start to sacrifice quality due to supplier changes or disruptions, they are setting a domino effect in motion. That is sure to negatively impact harvest season and negatively impact their reputation as equipment manufacturers, too.

Visibiliy: the Key to Ensure Machine Uptime during Harvest Season

Furthermore, sometimes OEMs don’t even have any visibility on what machines are out there. So regardless of whether machines are high quality or not – they will face downtime sooner or later. Visibility is key to predictability, and predictability is key to fulfill customer needs. Especially in such a grumpy business, parts and service should be available anytime, anywhere.  

Once a piece of equipment is in use, the focus of OEMs should be on aftersales solutions for that piece of equipment. If a farmer needs a replacement part, they’ll look to dealers or the OEM that they purchased the equipment from for replacement parts and efficient service availability. The farm productivity can drop during harvest season because the farmer is waiting for days to get their machine repaired. If that happens, it’s very bad for every entity within the supply chain.  

Hyperconnected Supply Chains in Farming 

The importance of OEM to dealer connectivity has never been more important. OEMs need to know what inventory dealers have on hand and what their future demand looks like. Dealers need to have the right set of tools to order efficiently and look up crucial machine information easily. If OEMs and dealers collaborate effectively, they can work together to boost the availability of certain parts. This, coupled with reaching a shorter time execution of service, might be needed at a higher rate during harvest season.   

Additionally, dealers and OEMs cannot overlook the fact that supply chains are not linear anymore. In fact, they don’t stop once the product reaches the customer. Todays supply chains are cyclical, especially with technologically enhanced machinery. Equipment may need regular software updates or professional servicing to maintain its ability to operate. That means that the jobs of dealers and OEMs are never truly done. Supply chain start and end with the end-customer in the era of customer-centricity. Therefore bridging the gap between OEMs, dealers and end-customers is more crucial than ever before.   

Trasform your business from reactive to proactive

The cyclical nature of high-tech machinery, aftersales, and servicing requires a proactive approach to customer relationship management. OEMs should be able to use technology to alert them when a machine may need to be serviced. That would allow them to repair or update that machinery before it breaks down at all.  

Finally, it used to be that a farmer with a machinery issue could attempt to repair it themselves. But that’s just not the case anymore. Tractors are not anymore what they used to be, it’s not just an engine and parts. It’s a high-tech machine requiring different set of skills to ensure they keep working. They rely on OEMs and their respective dealers to be able to provide that support. And it’s not just farmers relying on the efficiency of hyperconnected supply chains. The entire world relies on them, too.  

ensure machine uptime

Aftersales Solution: ClearOps 

Service supply chain collaboration isn’t easy. But with the right tools and technologies, it can go from a complex and intricate process to one that is easy to manage and quick to respond to customer needs. Aftersales solutions like ClearOps are designed to seamlessly integrate supply chains. As they allow for bolstering the connectivity between OEMs, dealers, and their shared customers.  

By unifying OEMs, dealers and machines on one platform, end-to-end supply chain data can be leveraged to truly ensure global part and service availability. Whilst customer needs are higher than ever before, the tools we have at hand these days are better than ever before. Using the right set of connector technology, planning and execution software and big data approaches, can take OEMs far. End-customer demand can be predicted and fulfilled in the most efficient way – digital, automated and seamless.  

This takes a lot of the guesswork out of operations, while ensuring that farmers will be able to do their job during the most important season.  

Avoiding Fire Drills 

Without a proactive approach in the aftersales space, OEMs and dealers will experience an influx of fire drills at the same time. If a farmer calls with an emergency and needs a part that isn’t available, it will send dealers into a frenzy trying to source the part. Which often leads to high costs and productivity hits for the dealer. That impact of that fire drill will then negatively impact a dealer’s ability to manage a different farmer’s issue.  If a dealer is scrambling, it’s only a matter of time before the responsible OEM is scrambling to help resolve an issue related to parts or service availability.  

These fire drills come at a cost, and that cost isn’t isolated to one client relationship; it’ll bleed into other aspects of the OEM’s customer relationships, making it very hard to recover. The best approach is to avoid fire drills entirely by taking a proactive approach to part management and service monitoring. The right technology will enable effective and proactive aftersales management no matter the industry. Talk about a worthwhile investment! 

Ensure Machine Uptime and Everyone Wins 

It’s a group effort to prevent downtime and achieve high rates of machine uptime for farmers all over the world. OEMs have to commit to building quality machinery in the first place, but that’s just the start. Once the equipment is in use, it’s up to OEMs and dealers to work together and ensure that farmers are getting their service needs met. This involves prioritizing part availability through hyperconnected supply chains, as well as a proactive approach to administering equipment services or repairs.  

When machine uptime is achieved, everyone wins.  Farmers win because they can focus on being in the fields and carefully harvesting the crops they’ve spent the entire year cultivating. OEMs and dealers win because it means that they are doing their jobs and providing exceptional customer support. Humanity also wins because it means that food production and distribution are as optimized as possible.  

By investing in an aftersales solution like ClearOps, OEMs and dealers can better achieve their goals. They can have a positive impact on their customers, their businesses, and people around the world. Reach out today to get started.  

FAQs 

Machine uptime refers to the period during which a system or service is available and operational. It’s the opposite of downtime and is usually expressed as a percentage.  For farmers, that means if all their machinery equipement runs smoothly, they will achieve their harvest goals.

Machines can and will break down at some point, especially when overused, as it happens during harvest season. Only a prompt service response from dealerships and immediate availability of spare parts by OEMs can ensure uptime.

Only a collaboration between OEMs and dealer can ensure parts and service availability in a short period of time. Hyperconnected supply chain, communicating in a single platform, can bridge the gap between OEMs and end-customer.

Proper monitoring and analysis of data from machine behaviour and service history can enable accurate demand forecasting. The solution is a proactive approach to aftersales through a platform that connects the supply chain, from OEMs to dealers to end-customers.

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