Remote diagnostics blocked by poor internet on farms

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Waiting for a dealership tech or mechanic to come to your farm to fix a problem is frustrating for farmers — but also for those who work on equipment.

As with home computers or computer-controlled industrial machines, technicians can remotely access the onboard computers on farm equipment. But only if there’s broadband internet.

“So on one hand we have the tools to satisfy this farmer concern but we’ve got a shortcoming on being able to remotely fix things because of rural broadband issues,” said John Schmeiser, CEO of the Western Equipment Dealers Association.

Being able to diagnose a problem remotely can save considerable time for mechanics, and that’s not only an issue for the farmer paying the bill but also the dealership, he said.

“We have a shortage of mechanics,” said Schmeiser. “Our membership stats say we need an additional two to 2-1/2 mechanics per dealership to meet demand.

“So adding to the frustration — especially in harvest or seeding — is our mechanics are extremely busy and because we don’t have enough personnel there is another delay that the customer may face.”

Schmeiser said his organization is working with ag colleges across Western Canada “to get more butts in the seats of the ag mechanic programs and get more mechanics out there.”

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