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Ag Tech podcast episode 103

Podcast Ep. 103: Expert Alerts from John Deere

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Proactive vs reactive. When it comes to machine repairs, there’s a clear favorite, right? With Expert Alerts, part of RDO Equipment Co.’s Connected Support offerings, our team can help you solve problems…before they even happen.  

Expert Alerts from John Deere are proactive notifications to perform service, based on telematics data from the machine. They provide actionable recommendations to reduce diagnostic and repair time, thus helping to prevent machine down scenarios. 

And we’re taking a deep dive into them in our latest episode of the podcast.

Join host Tony Kramer and guest Derrick Rygg, Machine Health Monitoring Specialist, as they focus on the benefits of proactiveness and Expert Alerts.

Check out past episodes and guests – visit the Episode Archive.


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Check out the episode transcript here:

Tony: Welcome back to another episode of the podcast. This is episode number 103. Today, we are going to be talking about John Deere Expert Alerts.

I'm very excited to welcome Derrick Rygg, who is a Machine Health Monitoring Specialist with RDO Equipment Company.

Thanks for joining us on the show today, Derrick. To get started I would love to hear a little bit more about you and your background and how you got to where you are today.

Derrick: Yes, thanks for having me on the show. I'm excited to join the podcast and talk a little bit more about Expert Alerts, our machine health team here at RDO and how we develop those proactive solutions to the field. I grew up on a farm west of Portland, North Dakota. A lot of people are familiar with the native Portland area. Throughout growing up, I helped a family farmer, continued to help friends through harvest every year. I have roughly about 10 years of experience in the technology world. Lastly, with RDO Equipment Co. as a Machine Health Monitoring Specialist for about a year and a half now so.

Tony: Great. Yes, you have an agriculture kind of your background. You're familiar with it. You still help out some family and friends today. With agriculture and the extreme level of technology that keeps getting built into agriculture, John Deere has come out with Expert Alerts. Some people may be familiar with this term. Other people get very confused by this term. Let's just start out right away, Derrick. What is an Expert Alert?

Derrick: Expert Alerts are data-driven, proactive solutions from John Deere. They're only possible though with a JD link connection to the machine. Expert Alerts allow us to minimize or prevent machine downtime. Expert Alerts do not require DTCs, they're based off of complete machine data. In some cases, we'll see where there's not even an issue with the machine. They are also found across many AG and CE models. Just recently, we have already got two planters, which is pretty exciting. Expert Alerts have come a long way in the past three years or so.

Tony: You were saying they're kind of talking about it? They do not or sometimes they will not trigger DTC or diagnostic code? Explain that. How can we be getting this information without it triggering a DTC?

Derrick: Yes. What we'd like to talk about is a proactive versus a reactive approach. Everyone is used to when something breaks down, then we go and fix it. The proactive approach is where Expert Alerts come into play. There's little to no troubleshooting. Most of the time, no troubleshooting is involved and a detect case is provided. Basically, you follow the detect solution to fix the machine or repair the machine.

Tony: As a customer, if they're not seeing anything visible at the machine, they're not hearing anything or a diagnostic code doesn't get triggered, how do these Expert Alerts come about?

Derrick: We work extensively with the John Deere Machine Health Team and partner with them. There's a lot of data points and parameters in the background that we don't see upfront that takes place in the background, like I said. For example, there's a "Replace Turbo" Expert Alert. This alert doesn't even look for a DTC so it looks for encoder count and the learn span to exceed a certain threshold. That's a very good example of where the customer is not even going to see a DTC on their machine but there's still an issue that's going to take place eventually.

Tony: Yes, that's a perfect example of when you talk proactive support versus reactive support. In the Ag industry, construction industry, all over with with heavy equipment, we've been used to more of a reactive support where a diagnostic trouble code is triggered. You call up the dealership and they say, "Yes, we'll send a tech." This is essentially doing the same thing but on the front side, before that DTC is triggered or even sometimes, as you said it, it doesn't get triggered, correct?

Derrick: Yes, absolutely. There's quite a few. Even if we get into high-pressure fuel pumps and things like that, they're not based off of DTCs that triggered so it's another example of all this data that we are working on in the background with the John Deere Machine Health Team so.

Tony: Taking one step backwards, before we go into the next question, getting set up, does the customer need to turn something on or do they need to contact us as RDO? How do you turn on these Expert Alerts?

Derrick: When it comes back to a connected machine, we need to have that machine connected. Without the JD link connection to the machine, there won't be any Expert Alerts. It's very important that we have those machines connected.

Tony: You've made mention a couple times about the RDO Machine Health Monitoring Team. Tell us a little bit about how RDO Equipment is capitalizing on Expert Alerts and what we're doing to help the customer.

Derrick: The Machine Health Team here at RDO consists of three team members. We distribute all Expert Alerts for RDO. We roughly have a receive about 40 to 50 a week. We create service requests off of those Expert Alerts that we receive from John Deere and then we deliver them to each store location. Usually getting the CSA, product specialists involved on some of them as well as service department.

Tony: We here at RDO, we're taking kind of a centralized approach at trying to monitor these machines and then from there, correct me if I'm wrong, but we send out information to the stores where those machines are running out of.

Derrick: Yes, absolutely. The Machine Health Team also monitors our RDO rental fleet along with our production class equipment, as well as our fleet shield service customers, both on the AG and CE side. Our Fleet Shield Service customers are customers that are paying us to monitor their equipment and definitely with that, if your machine is connected with JD link, we can proactively monitor all DTCs that trigger on those machines. If that's something that customers are interested, they can reach out to the Machine Health Team so.

Tony: With this proactive support and this team that we have built here at RDO equipment, how can this, all of it together, how does this benefit the customer? What are they going to get out of this?

Derrick: John Deere and RDO partner, together, we test Expert Alerts extensively to gain 100% confidence in them prior to sending out to our customers. The goal is to be more proactive and reduce customer downtime. A majority of Expert Alerts that we complete, the repairs end up being covered under warranty and definitely that's a huge benefit for the customer and RDO With Expert Alerts, we're preventing the actual failure to reduce other component damage on the machine, further cost to the customer but at the same time, some repairs like we talked about, there's no DTCs involved. You don't see anything on the machine and that leads to- sometimes we have customers that prolong completing an Expert Alert. Later on, they only wish they had completed them sooner. [laughs]

Tony: Yes, as you mentioned earlier, you guys are seeing 40 to 50 Expert Alerts rolling weekly. I would imagine you get some customers that are very happy and they see the benefit and value. You see other customers that are like, "Well, I'm not seeing anything at my machine." Just that amount of Expert Alerts to come in, I would imagine you guys have to have a ton of success stories out there on the ones where it did benefit that customer to utilize that proactive support. Can you tell us a couple stories?

Derrick: We have success stories on a weekly basis, daily basis even sometimes. For example, one of our Machine Health Fleet Shield Service customers had a 94-7 RT throwing several "Def pump failed the prime" codes. There's a customer out west so we're up here maybe not over out west. We reached out to them early one morning, had a quick call with them, services was requested and the store took quick action and headed out to the machine and got that new def pump in the tractor before any D rating codes took place and customer was able to get back on their way.

Another success story that we have, we received Expert Alert to replace a high-pressure fuel pump on a 8245R, the tractor wasn't thrown in codes and the operator wasn't aware of any issues. Data, like we talked about, is collected over time compared to other 8245R models back in the John Deere in the background and the repairs completed at a convenient time for the customer with zero diagnostic time at the machine. In this case, we save RDO and the customer time and money.

Success stories like this happen on a daily basis related directly to Expert Alerts and proactive solutions. Our goal is to make our customers more efficient in the field, decrease and in several cases eliminate diagnostic time which is huge, so that we can increase our customer's uptime in the field.

Tony: You mentioned one other thing that a lot of times we don't think about, but the zero diagnostic time. I think you mentioned it earlier here in the episode that a solution is already there. They know what needs to be fixed. They know how it needs to be fixed. That's another thing that a lot of people don't think about when it comes to these Expert Alerts.

Derek: Yes, absolutely. It goes back to that proactive versus reactive approach. There is a lot of people working in the background like I said partnering with John Deere. A lot of that, no one sees it basically. That's how that works. We just have all that data compiled together and are able to just go out to the service department and then relay on to the customer that, "Follow this solution and the repair will be completed."

Tony: With all of those people working in the background, I would imagine more equipment, more Expert Alerts are being rolled out constantly. You had mentioned that now we're going to start getting Expert Alerts on planters too. What the? Planters don't have an engine. What does that look like?

Derek: Yes, it's pretty interesting when we seen the first one come across this spring. We have weekly, biweekly calls with John Deere and we're always testing and developing new Expert Alerts with them. We're going to see this go a long ways in the future and it's going to become a huge portion for the stores and customers.

Tony: I know one of my favorite stories about Expert Alerts, it was actually a customer of ours that declined service. They declined the help on something that had triggered an Expert Alert. I don't know if it was a day or a week later, but I believe he actually had an engine or a hydraulic pump or something go down and he looked at us like, "Man, how did you guys know that was going to happen." It really says something about this proactive support and making sure that our customers don't see this downtime.

Derek: Yes, absolutely. In the future, we're going to- Like we talked about here, you're familiar with technology, it's always changing and we're always finding new ways to do things. Expert Alerts will go down that same path. We're going to have Expert Alerts on basically every model going further I would assume.

Tony: Derek, if someone wants to learn more about Expert Alerts or maybe figure out how they can start receiving the information, who can they talk to where can they go to learn more about this?

Derek: We have two emails that you can reach out to us on, the first one, connectedsupport@rdoequipment.com. Also if you want to get in touch directly with the Machine Health Team, you can reach out to us at machinehealth@rdoequipment.com.

Tony: Absolutely. I would imagine you could stop into any of the RDO locations and they can always point you in the right direction too, correct?

Derek: Absolutely.

Tony: Derek, I just want to thank you for taking the time to sit down with me today and talk a little bit about Expert Alerts. I know hopefully with this podcast we've shared some information to inform people a little bit more about Expert Alerts. I know I was confused at first when DTCs weren't involved and it's just something above and beyond that reactive support. Thank you again for sharing this information.

Derek: Yes, I appreciate you having me on the show. I know from the Machine Health Team here we're actively trying to push Expert Alerts and get the information out to the field and this will be a great way to do that.

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