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Podcast Ep. 176:  John Deere Machine Sync

19 Sep 2022

In this episode, we're going to be talking about a John Deere Machine Sync which allows coverage map sharing and guidance line sharing to improve planting, seeding, spraying and nutrient application across several rows. 

You can find past podcast episodes and view show notes by visiting our Podcast website

Watch related: Get Started with Work Planner in the John Deere Operations Center

Have precision ag questions? We have the answers. Find a specific channel dedicated to answering your precision technology questions: Precision Ag Answers. 

Read the entire transcript from the latest episode.

Today, we are going to talk about John Deere Machine Sync. e are going to discuss John Deere's Machine Sync capabilities and functionality. Now Machine Sync is not new, actually, there was a rendition of it that came out back with the GS3 or the 2630 platform. There are some similarities between the GS3 Machine Sync and now the Gen 4 Machine Sync, but there are also some differences, so just to touch on the GS3, I want to talk mostly about the Gen 4, just because of the features and functionality of that, but I do want to briefly touch on the GS3 platform for those of you out there that are still utilizing GS3 displays or 2630 displays

Going back to the original John Deere Machine Sync or GS3 Machine Sync, what it gave us the capability of doing is first off, sharing coverage maps and guidance lines, so if we had multiple machines in one field, whether it be two planters, two combines, two sprayers, whatever it may be, we were able to share coverage maps with each other, as well as guidance lines. If one of them created a guidance line, we had the ability to share. We have. That this product is still capable of being utilized, but we have the ability to share the guidance lines with the machine that made that guidance line to the machine that did not make that guidance line, so that was one piece of it.

Then the other piece was the harvest logistics or harvest automation, I guess you could call it, and that was, or that is, the technology where the combine takes control of the grain cart. There's a lot of people out there that don't necessarily know a lot about this technology, or maybe they have everything that they need, but they've just never utilized this technology, so it really with bigger front end headers, bigger grain carts, we're dealing with a lot tighter tolerances around equipment. Having that automation or having that grain cart in the exact spot you want it to be, is very beneficial to both the combine operator, as well as the grain cart operator, so a lot of benefits there, a great product to be utilizing.

Now jumping forward into the Gen 4 Machine Sync, like I said, lot of similarities, but there are also some differences and I wanted to talk about both of them there. Similarities being harvest automation or harvest logistics, that is Gen 4 Machine Sync. The guidance line sharing or the coverage map sharing, all of that has actually moved into a bucket that we would refer to as Data Sync. All of that stuff is flowing back and forth between the machines already via the JDLink modem, so making sure we have our machines connected, making sure that we have 4G terminals, we have all of that stuff is in our machines, in our operation center accounts and it is connected. That's the starting piece to all of this.

Now, moving back or moving forward to the Gen 4 Machine Sync. There's a laundry list of things or machines that this is compatible with, and that I think is something that is also misunderstood that, of course, everybody assumes that it's only the current model year tractor, not model year, but the latest and greatest machines with all the technology, but with this, we've also got the ability to go back to older legacy machines with the utilization of a 4640 universal display. Just to throw it out there, as a leader, think of Gen 4 Machine Sync as leader-follower when it comes to harvest logistics or harvest automation.

Leader being the combine, follower being the tractor grain cart. Leader, we can have S-series combines, X-series combines, we can go down to 70 series, 60 series and 50 series combines if we have those 4640 displays. Now you can also for our friends across the pond and in other parts of the world, W-series combines as well as T-series combines are also compatible, so keep that in mind when you're discussing or curious about Gen 4 Machine Sync.

Now we can also use this technology for our friends with forage harvesters, so 9000-series forage harvesters as well as 8000-series forage harvesters, can be utilized as a follower for Gen 4 machine, or sorry, excuse me, not a follower, it can be used as a leader for Gen 4 Machine Sync. We have pretty much all the combines going back to the 50 series, we have 9000 and 8000 series forage harvesters, but here's the kicker, and this is the one that I really wanted to touch on.

All of you out there in specialty crop world, whether that be sugar beets, potatoes, carrots, onions, all of that type of stuff, that type of specialty crop that pulls a unique harvest implement behind the tractor, we now have the ability to utilize a tractor as a leader. Where this comes into play so for myself or this region where I'm at, in the Red River Valley of Minnesota, North Dakota, we have sugar beets. With sugar beets, we pull a sugar beet harvester, or some may refer to it as a beet lifter, but we also, some people are starting to adopt the utilization of beet carts. It's similar to a grain cart with a combine, they are utilizing beet carts with beet lifters or beet harvest.

We now have the ability to utilize harvest automation in a beet lifter, beat cart scenario, or a potato digger, potato cart, or crop cart scenario, which wasn't always the case, so it's a really neat feature to be able to utilize in those specialty crop situations. Originally, in combines, the auger swings out to the left-hand side of the machine, so Machine Sync had a let's call it the Home area or the Home box, could only be set up on the left side of the leader machine.

With the introduction of tractors being able to be the leader, we now have the ability to make that Home box on either side of the machine, because with potato diggers and sugar beet harvesters, they unload on the right side of the machine, so kind of unique scenario, unique situation, but we now have that ability to utilize Gen 4 Machine Sync or harvest automation, whatever you want to refer to it as, we have the ability to utilize that. We talked about the leaders being combines, forage harvesters, and then now the tractors, and the tractors, I should say any machine that has a Gen 4 4600 command center, or a 4640 universal display.

Now, I should put a disclaimer on that, the 4600 command center, you are going to need a V2 server in that. There's some of the older Gen 4 4600 command centers they started back in 2014, those earlier 14, 15, 16, and 17-ish had what we call a version one server, so you would need to get that server upgraded to a version two server. Talk to your local John Deere dealership they will know exactly what you're talking about, but beyond that, any tractor that is compatible with a 4640, which looking at the compatibility list it's pretty much all of them, you can utilize as a leader. Now the follower platform is a little more specific, there's a few more pieces to that, but followers can be used with John Deere tractors, 6Rs, 7Rs, 8Rs, 9Rs. We've actually also got the ability to do 80 or 30 series wheeled tractors so 8030s or 9030s. One disclaimer is that 30-series T tractors are not compatible so just keep that in mind, but then we've also got the ability for the 8RTs, the 8RXs, 9RTs, 9RXs.

There are some transmission specificities there so just make sure you're talking with your local RDO dealer or your store or local John Deere dealer to get the specifics. Then beyond that with the technology the key piece there is going to be the automation 4.0 activation and that's going to go on both sides. The leader side, so whatever you're using for a leader, whether it's a combine, forge harvester tractor, as well as the follower platform, we're going to need those automation 4.0 activations on both sides.

Now, the other thing that is highly recommended and I think maybe even required is going to be an external antenna for the leader platform. It can be put on the follower platform as well. Just going to increase your connectivity and your line of site communication but for sure it has to be put on the leader, big one is with the combine.

This communication is happening through our JDLink modems, and we need the ability to have clear communication between the machines. With a combine, the JDLink modem is on the right side of the cab. What we do is we route a secondary antenna to go up, right on the left-hand side, right about where the auger swings out on the combine, and that gives it a nice, clear line of sight to the tractor that is in that follower platform.

Big things to remember is Gn 4 displays, 4600 command centers or 4640 universal displays, combines all the way back to 50 series, self-propelled forage harvesters 9000 and 8000, and pretty much any tractor can be a leader, and then we've got a list of machines that are supported on the follower platform. Lot of different ways we can do this, lot of different machines, combinations, and compatible setups that can be utilized very beneficial. Like I said, we're starting to get a lot larger equipment, a lot wider equipment. Our tolerances are becoming tighter when we are right next to that combine or right next to that potato digger or beat lifter.

There's a lot of things that can go wrong. Taking some of that stress away allowing the operator in both the leader platform, as well as the follower platform to have a very high comfort level with the leader being in control, and then the follower being able to keep an eye on what's going on, not having to worry about steering or running into whatever they're loading or unloading whatever machine they're unloading. A lot of great uses for this, just wanted to touch on it.

In the last episode, we talked about remote view and adjust. It got me thinking about other technologies that can be utilized here at harvest time. This Gen 4 Machine Sync came to mind as we're out there harvesting small grains, soy beans are going to be coming up here.

In this area of the world sugar beet harvest has slowly gotten going with what they call pre-lift or pre-pile so we are rolling in harvest and I felt this was a good episode to get out there for all of you to listen. Hopefully, you learned something, hopefully, you can take this back to your operation and potentially implement this technology and continue adding to the different pieces of technology that you have on your farm. Thanks again for listening and we'll catch you on the next one.

You can subscribe to the show on the many different podcasting apps that we're streaming this out to such as Apple podcast, Google podcast, Spotify, as well as many others. While you're out there, drop us a review. We'd love to hear what you think about the show. Lastly, make sure to follow RDO Equipment Company on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and catch all of our latest videos on YouTube. You can also follow me on Twitter @RDOTonyK.

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