A decade ago, Iowa-based AgWorks released a product call the Smart Gun. Essentially a ruggedized handheld computer, the Smart Gun was designed to help the custom applicator to track and record all the critical steps involved in doing an application. Users had all the information about the work to be done at their fingertips, and the unit allowed users to record all the aspects of an application. The goal was to close the loop in the application process and provide a complete record of an application to prove regulatory compliance and environmental stewardship.
More recently, AgWorks has been applying this field recording technology to the broader issue of product traceability. Working with the Mid America CropLife Association, AgWorks took part in a three-year pilot program to show that product traceability from the retailer to the field is as technologically and practically viable as it is from the manufacturer to the retailer
“The project revolves around the idea that a product can be manufactured and traced to the retailer, then traced to the legal description of a piece of ground the product is applied to,” says Greg Duhachek, sales manager at AgWorks. “We finished that project up this spring in conjunction with three of our customers, and our software was the vehicle for it.”
The “proof of concept” is going to be the subject of a DVD that MACA is producing this spring and summer, which may then be used to show the industry that crop protection traceability is a viable concept. “When regulation comes along, and I think we all believe it will, we can show that there is a process in place to accommodate that,” says Duhachek.
A benefit of this project work has been the opportunity for AgWorks to expand its product line. One of these new concepts is called the Warehouse Gun, a handheld Windows CE-compatible device that works as a wireless terminal. “It connects the front office to the warehouse, where staff can use it as if setting at desk and capture information as it is happening in real time.”
The Warehouse Gun provides portability, so information can be logged on the spot rather than having to be “memorized” or scribbled down on paper to be entered later on a desktop computer. In addition, information can be entered about where product is headed, providing a measure of traceability all the way out to the field.
AgWorks has also been improving its office management system software, more closely integrating it into field operations. “That’s the direction things are going,” says Duhachek. “To bring all these different technologies and platforms the service industry uses into a unified software solution.”
For more information on AgWorks, visit the company website.