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How 185-year-old John Deere is embracing digital transformation

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John Deere is well known because of its industrial-grade agricultural, forestry and heavy equipment, and also its consumer lawn care line.

But many probably dont recognize that additionally it is incorporating leading-edge capabilities including AI, computer vision, data analytics, digital twins, sensors, robots and co-bots proving that 185-year-old manufacturing companies can proceed through digital transformation, too.

In June, we reported on what John Deere is using AI to harvest data. At VentureBeats Transform 2022 event the other day, its CIO Ganesh Jayaram reiterated this and highlighted another innovative efforts the business is embracing to propel it forward.

It is possible to think about that as Industry 4.0, John Deere CIO, Ganesh Jayaram, said in a livestream keynote during last weeks Transform 2022.

Manufacturing at the edge

John Deeres tech strategy is made around two tenets, explained Jayaram: the general public cloud and the edge.

Theres a dependence on both, he said its only a matter of defining what forms of workloads happen where.

The edge is most beneficial for applications with low latency, where you truly dont have enough time to be sending the info back again to the cloud.

For John Deere, that edge is factory and warehouse operations, said Jayaram. The business is scaling knowledge at the edge and buying private server networks.

Were attempting to drive compute and analytics, leverage intelligence at the edge, as near to the point of impact as you possibly can, he said. You want to translate intelligence at the edge in order that those applications with high bandwidth and low latency is capable of doing there.

The manufacturing tech stack

Additionally, Jayaram described an emergent tech stack. The easiest method to conceptualize that in the manufacturing world would be to combine IT and OT, he said that’s, adding manufacturing components to a core IT stack.

The very best layer of the stack combines applications and analytics. Underneath this is the data platform. Under which are platforms of connectivity and software (enterprise resource planning software, for instance). Lastly, hardware and services. And cutting across that layer of stack, explained Jayaram, is cybersecurity.

Ultimately, data may be the engine that drives all this, he said. The business has invested heavily in what it describes as a John Deere data factory comprising a data lake.

That core analytics function needs to be driven on really reliable data that cuts across our internal silos [of manufacturing, engineering, supply chain], said Jayaram. Were attracting these different streams of data, curating the info and ensuring the data may be the highest quality, that it’s well cataloged.

Agile operations

To help expand drive innovation, John Deere has implemented an agile operating model over the business.

For example, exactly the same principles and concepts which are put on software development are practiced on the shop floor.

Its not unusual to get these (manufacturing) teams swarming on ideas or challenges, said Jayaram. Teams get together, they swarm on a concept plus they really make an effort to drive a remedy in just a matter of days.

Since rolling out the model, support incidents are down, there’s been a two to three-fold upsurge in customer features and a ten-fold upsurge in the amount of deployments.

Our teams really like this new method of dealing with that concentrate on customer centricity, said Jayaram.

And also further afield?

Giving an answer to the inevitable question concerning the metaverse, Jayaram said that John Deere is quite worked up about the implications but we have been also start of the journey.

His team is analyzing the applicability of the metaverse in operations, he said. He also forecasted several breakthroughs with regards to digital twin technologies.

For example, at a GADGETS Show earlier this season, the business introduced a technology allowing one to virtually sit in the tractor simply using their cellular devices. John Deere can be introducing the digital twin concept into engineering and manufacturing processes.

If youre in a position to give a digital experience that mimics the physical world, said Jayaram, it enables customers and employees to be more engaged with the merchandise.

Watch the full-length conversation from Transform 2022.

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