Väderstads agricultural machines have roamed the rural fields since the early ‘60s and the company has gone from being a local supplier to a worldwide international business. In 2020 they took a new leap in their innovation journey when they joined as a partner for IndX. We checked in with Johan von Mecklenburg, SVP Research & Development, and talked about their two Proof of Concept (PoC) projects from last year and Väderstads hopes for the future and IndX2021.
– IndX has shown us things we didn’t know existed or that we even needed. This initiative has made it possible for us to expand our views and think outside the box, says Johan.
Väderstad has been on a constant growth since they started in 1962.
– We have gone from being a small startup business run from a shed to the international and innovative supplier we are today.
Into a new era
Johan explains that farming has always been evolving, but that the changes have accelerated rapidly since the industrial revolution. He describes how we are moving towards the next revolution and the era of data and autonomy.
– It is not just about the machines on the field anymore. In this day and age, we want to know where the machine has been, what task has it performed and we want it to tell us what we can do to improve the crops. The data we produce has become a significant asset for the end customer.
Produce more using less
The greatest challenge for the farming industry is the growing population on earth , with increasing life quality, calling for increased demands on food. Combined with climate change and expanding infrastructure consuming farm land, production we will need to feed more people in less area than we do today. We need to produce more, using less. And in addition, the increased environmental requirements challenges the way we can grow our crops today.
– On this journey, we need to be a reliable partner to our customers. And one way of doing so is by working with innovation and finding new interesting areas that can make our customers successful in this changing world.
Since four years back Vädestad has had an inhouse innovation team to find future technology and products. Part of the work is external monitoring of technology, politics and environmental issues. In their work process they invite both Väderstads own engineers of different competencies as well as customers to explore new ideas.
– We have a fairly free process when it comes to innovation. If our focus would be tied to the fact that every idea should end up as a new product we would probably not get very far. We aim to attain the best ideas, and the way to do that is to stay open-minded.
Easy and digital
IndX has been an entirely new way for Väderstad to cooperate and work with new ideas and Johan states that the partnership with Toyota Material Handling Europe, Siemens Energy and Saab has been both easy and fruitful.
– It is a really fun and successful collaboration that gives a lot of energy to all of us who are part of it, both startups and partners.
For IndX2021 Johan hopes to be amazed once more and get presented with ideas within the focus areas of sustainability, autonomy and connectivity that can be applied to farming machines or their manufacturing process.
Planning for the next step
At the end of IndX2020 Väderstad decided to go through with two PoC’s. One of them being with Glana Sensors where they will use multispectral cameras to make soil assessments. By taking pictures and analysing them the hope is to get information of the soil health and condition, and be able to make decisions on upcoming efforts based on this information.
– This is the kind of knowledge that used to exist in the fingers of the farmer. In this PoC we try to find an easy and digital way to make these kinds of analyses.
The other PoC is along with T&S Engineering Intelligence, who has designed an AI engine that assists with reviewing drawings. The first part of the project finished earlier this spring.
– We are very pleased with the result and are planning for the next step as we would like to see this project develop.
IndX is an initiative by: