Virtual reality is ready to disrupt ag field days

Ag's next new equipment breakthrough – a hologram


Beef 2018 News
Chief executive officer of Technipharm, Harmen Heesen, at Beef 2018 in Rockhampton.

Chief executive officer of Technipharm, Harmen Heesen, at Beef 2018 in Rockhampton.

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The way products are showcased at farm industry events and field days is about to be digitally disrupted

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Agriculture’s high-tech revolution won’t just deliver a future of virtual fencing, paddock surveillance drones and blockchain market tools –  prepare for holograms and other big changes to the way farm equipment and services appear at field days and industry events.

As farming and farm equipment gets more expensive and more complex to demonstrate, fewer producers will attend agricultural exhibitions expecting to see and climb over steel and rubber.

The “disruption” buzzword mentioned almost every minute at this year’s big Beef Australia cattle show, trade exhibition and symposium event in Queensland is already bringing three dimensional imaging to livestock and machinery markets.

Much more change is inevitable in the way exhibitors showcase their products and businesses says cattle equipment retailer and chief executive officer of Technipharm, Harmen Heesen.

In the next five to 10 years we’ll probably be presenting nearly all our equipment options in 3D or hologram format. - Harmen Heesen, Technipharm, NZ

“There’s no doubt we must be part of these important events, but in many cases the cost benefit from dragging bulky and expensive gear across the country isn’t there,” he said.

“In the next five to 10 years we’ll probably be presenting nearly all our equipment options in 3D or hologram format.

“In fact, even if we’re not at field days or agricultural trade events, we’ll be probably sit in the farmer’s office or kitchen with that same sort of virtual reality technology rather than brochures.

“We’ll be able to give producers a closer look at a much bigger range of equipment options than ever before.”

Farmers were increasingly more discerning about researching, and the way they eventually bought, new gear.”

They were also increasingly likely to use more information-rich events like Beef Australia as hubs for information, using their forums and networking opportunities to connect with others in the farm supply chain, while exploring where their businesses should be heading.

“I suspect the future for trade exhibitions will be much more about air conditioned indoor venues and information symposiums, and less about big machines or equipment out in the hot sun, or cold, wet weather,” Mr Heesen said.

New Zealand based Techipharm has been making stock handling gear for markets on both side of the Tasman for 30 years.

Its product range varies from cattle crushes and hoof trimming equipment to dairy cleaning systems and effluent storage systems.

The company’s market on this side of the Tasman initially focused on dairying, but now services Australia’s broader 45 million head cattle herd with products specifically developed for local buyers.

We were considering building a new head office, but instead we invested heavily in technology and upgraded our systems so people could work in their own locations - Harmen Heesen, Technipharm

Although Technipharm still demonstrates real equipment at NZ’s huge Mystery Creek Fieldays, it no longer has a physical head office because sales and support staff work from their own home bases around the country and in Australia.

“We ran a cost analysis on our office two years ago and worked out almost 90 per cent of our office space was storing stuff or wasted space,” Mr Heesen said.

“We were considering building a new head office, but instead we invested heavily in technology and upgraded our systems so people could work in their own locations – and we eliminated a lot of paperwork at the same time.

“Customer engagement time and accessibility to our staff has also improved.”

Without the benefit of hologram technology on hand just yet, Technipharm invariably flies its Australian customers to NZ, or elsewhere within Australia, for first hand inspections of equipment in the field or at its North Island manufacturing plant at Tauranga.

The company does not take its equipment to trade shows and field days within Australia.

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