Case Study – NSW sugar industry uses Agtrix technology to save time, money and resources

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    The New South Wales Sugar Milling Co-operative (NSWSMC) has set benchmarks in harvest and supply chain management, using technology developed by Agtrix over the past 9 years.

    Harvesting up to 2.4 million tonnes of cane each year, the cooperative embraces technology to drive its business operations.

    The main strategies to improve efficiency used have been:

    1. Better planning before the season to be as prepared as possible, including both strategic plans and seasonal operational planning.
    2. Communicate what is going on to all parts of the supply chain – Give the operators in each component of the supply chain the best opportunity to self-organise their operations by providing as much relevant information as you can in a form that is useful in real time
    3. Visualise what is going on in real time, and present the data in a form that operators can use to make decisions
    4. Use real-time optimisation systems where possible so those in control of the supply chain can make better decisions
    5. Benchmark performance, review progress and improve the next time.
    6. Optimise with systems where possible, including a transport dispatch system that uses a different approach to scheduling than others.

    Former NSWSMC employee Grahame Dines developed an automated traffic scheduling system in the late 1990s which was trialed at Harwood Mill in 1998, with outstanding results. The mill recorded a 39 percent reduction in mill stops associated with traffic scheduling, at a time when average trip time had increased by five percent and the average crushing rate was up by 10 percent

    Grahame is now employed by Agtrix and has been a key player in upgrading the technology to provide total supply chain solutions for the agricultural sector.

    In 2003, the NSWSMC engaged Agtrix to provide harvest management and harvester tracking systems. In just three years, the organisation cut its cane supply operation costs by 32 percent.

    More recently, Agtrix has been working with the sugar cooperative to improve real-time communication between mills and the harvesting sector, using on-board computers fitted to tractors, as well as a web-based ETA Calculator.

    This technology enables truck and harvester activity to be monitored on a daily basis.

    Snapshot of Agtrix technology solutions employed by NSW sugar industry

    Before the season

    Product

    Benefit

    FarmMap (Geographic Information System)
    (Being replaced by AgDat)
    Cane supply officers can:
    • Map all the sugar that could be supplied to a mill
    • Identify expected yield
    • Predict the length of a processing season
    • Develop a harvest plan to optimise transport efficiency.

    During the season

    Product

    Benefit

    SweetNet (telemetry application) Automatically informs a mill when bins are ready for collection.
    SHIRT (Harvester Information
    in Real Time)
    Harvesters are provided with real-time data about cane that has just been delivered including bin weight and stock problems. This enables harvesters to:
    • Adjust their level of fill to achieve their target weights, and avoid hefty fines for overloaded bins
    • Amend harvesting practices to improve product quality and  minimise the amount of dirt or extraneous matter.
    Harvester Tracking Location and sensor data is derived from harvesters to determine daily harvest progress.Field efficiencies are calculated for the harvester.Harvester group managers can use progress data to manage resources.
    FREDD
    (automated traffic scheduling)
    Determines which bins are picked up and delivered to the mill for processing.Aims to achieve just-in-time product delivery to optimise transport fleet efficiency.Determines a destination for each truck as it leaves the mill.

    Informs the mill of any future break in supply, enabling the mill to adjust its processing rate.

    ETA Calculator Provides the FREDD traffic scheduling system with real-time data about the location of transport fleet and anticipates time of cane delivery at a mill.Monitors truck progress with GPS tracking.Notifies harvesters when bins are due to arrive.
    CHOMP
    (Being replaced by AgDat)
    Receives daily cut areas reports from the harvester tracking and uses them to keep track of harvest progressMonitors  delivery consignment accuracy from where was cut the previous dayProvides data on current harvest status for each paddock to business and grower web site.

    Used by harvester contractors to analyse field and crew efficiencies

    After the season

    Product

    Benefit

    ProdBase
    (Being replaced by AgDat)
    Analyse productivity for the different climatic zones and soil types to provide varietal advice.
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