The Future of Farm Repairs

Often I like to get really ridiculous and think of how the world would work if farm implement dealers hired 20-year-old tech minds from Silicone Valley to run their parts counters. This blog is the result of those thoughts.

Like all farmers, over the years I have seen my fair share of breakdowns. We all know breakdowns are just as much a part of farming as the process of growing. Interestingly, how we deal with breakdowns has not changed much, even though our communication tools have drastically improved.

Occasionally, I apply my random tech mind to my farming world and how it might look if all my implement dealers hired 20-something tech minds from the Silicone Valley to work with their parts managers and mechanics. The result of these thoughts are the content of this blog.



In a far away place in a future time, this is how I envision a breakdown on the farm converging with technology and social media. Sitting in the cab of my combine, the light comes on for a random breakdown. I shut down the implement and immediately post a check in to FourSquare. This also posts it to Twitter with the message “Break Down” on my 2003 John Deere 9660 STS, hence giving the location of my breakdown to my implement dealer on Twitter. In that one post, they have my implement make, model, and location. 
At that point I would get out and inspect the breakdown, posting a picture to either my Facebook news feed or again my Twitter page probably (both using Hootsuite) allowing my dealer to now see the extent of the damage.  Assuming that this futuristic dealer (I did say a far away place and a future time) is following all its customers Twitter/Facebook accounts, it would then start collecting the parts required to make the repairs.
The dealer would then send a confirmation itemized email with pictures of the items required to make the repair. Depending on the extent of the damage, some parts may be optional. The goal would be that, by the time the disassembly was completed, I would get a direct message or text notifying me that the parts are already en route and the payment has been made off of my PayPal account. Of course, if it was a busy time (i.e. harvest), I could not expect delivery, so a parts run may still be required. 
Along with the parts email would be a mechanic/technician cell number to assist with the reassembly for more challenging technical repairs. It would be at this point that the new iPhone 4 FaceTime feature would allow you to continue to work on the implement repair under the qualified eye of a mechanic, watching from his office, guiding you through the reassembly at a shop rate (calculated by the minute). 

Other possible scenarios in my mind include snapping a photo with Google Goggles on an Android phone: it would cross-reference the parts required to replace the identified section of the machine against a parts manual indexed by Google, and then email the dealer.  Of course, all farmers would have access to the parts numbers located on the dealer computers (not sure why we don't now) to confirm the correct smaller parts.  
Another great scenario would be YouTube video repairs filmed by mechanics, which could be searched while working on the repair, then viewed on an iPad. These series of videos would be catalogued into channels populated by their parent companies (ex. John Deere 9660 STS Repairs Channel). This would be such a great way for brands to reach out to their clients with support when they need it most. 

Anyway, I got a little sidetracked with this blog post; however, my boredom waiting for the crops to cure is getting the best of me. We are still several weeks behind starting harvest, and I am just hoping that I get the chance to fire up a swather, combine or just about anything that resembles the start of harvest in the next three weeks!