John Deere teams up with Leica Geosystems

By on 27 February, 2024
Courtesy John Deere

Construction and agricultural machinery manufacturer, John Deere, plans to boost the capabilities of its offerings by teaming up with two leading technology companies in the fields positioning and communications.

The first tie-up is a strategic partnership with Leica Geosystems, part of Hexagon, to boost digital transformation in the heavy construction industry.

The companies plan to work together to develop solutions that “improve productivity, reduce material costs and the number of passes required” through the delivery of positioning and sensor technology… the aim being to improve safety by minimising traffic on construction sites.

“The availability of SmartGrade [along with the] Leica solution allows John Deere and our dealers to participate and support various jobsites while meeting the technology needs of our customers,” said Mark Colvin, Senior Product Manager, Grade Management, John Deere.

“Working with Leica Geosystems is a tremendous opportunity, as their advanced technology solutions, paired with the power and performance of the John Deere construction equipment line-up, makes for a highly productive, efficient and seamless jobsite for our customers.”

“Together, we will bring new levels of accuracy, productivity, and accelerate the implementation of safe and sustainable workflows to the construction industry, helping our customers succeed in today’s competitive marketplace and enhancing their resilience for tomorrow,” added Troy Dahlin, VP Heavy Construction, US/CAN at Leica Geosystems.

The other major announcement concerns an agreement with SpaceX to provide satellite communications services for farmers using the latter’s Starlink network. The solution will enable farmers who currently have to contend with rural connectivity problems, to fully leverage the capabilities of precision agriculture technologies.

The partnership, which John Deere claims is an industry first, will enable the company’s customers to “be more productive, profitable, and sustainable in their operations…”

“The value of connectivity to farmers is broader than any single task or action. Connectivity unlocks vast opportunities that were previously limited or unavailable,” said Aaron Wetzel, Vice President of Production and Precision Ag Production Systems at John Deere.

“For example, throughout the year, farmers must complete tasks within extremely short windows of time. This requires executing incredibly precise production steps while coordinating between machines and managing machine performance.

“Each of these areas are enhanced through connectivity, making the entire operation more efficient, effective, and profitable.”

The Starlink solution will connect new and existing agricultural machines via satellite internet service and ruggedised satellite terminals, enabling features such as autonomy, real-time data sharing and machine-to-machine communication.

The solution will initially be available through a limited release in the US and Brazil beginning in the latter half of 2024.

John Deere is no stranger to technology innovation within its areas of operation, having run for several years an annual Startup Collaborator program that aims to “deepen the company’s interaction with startup companies whose technology could add value for ag and construction customers”.

For 2024, the program collaborators are:

  • Constellr — a company that measures land surface temperature and water at high accuracy from its own satellites.
  • Geminos — an AI company that helps businesses understand and leverage causality for enhanced decision-making.
  • SB Quantum — a company focused on navigation based on a novel quantum magnetometer.
  • Fermata Energy — a leader in vehicle-to-everything bidirectional charging technology.
  • goFlux — a Brazil based logistics company focused on digital solutions for freight transactions.
  • Cloudscape Labs — a production management software company focused on providing job site visibility across construction teams.

“The startup program is mutually beneficial for John Deere and the startup companies that participate,” said Dennis Muszalski, VP, Module & Electrification Systems Engineering.

“The program is based on finding benefits for our customers. The goal is to learn together and explore new ways to help customers unlock more value in ways they never thought possible.”

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