From One Ag Leader to Another: Product Quality
As the owner and founder of Ag Leader, quality is an important topic for me. Right from the beginning, I realized that if I was to build a name for myself and my company quality had to be paramount. Farmers simply cannot afford the downtime when there’s field work to be done.
I feel high-quality expectations mark today’s precision agriculture marketplace. Add to this mix an abundance of choices at various price points and the demand for new technology, it becomes clear that every company producing precision ag tools must create high-quality products to be successful. The best products embody quality in several ways. First, by providing a high level of functionality for the end user. Second, by being easy to use. And finally, by being backed with an excellent dealer and corporate support network.
The Why and How of Product Quality and Development
At Ag Leader, our goal is to consistently exceed your expectations in all aspects of quality. That’s why each product we make goes through six stages of development before it becomes part of your operation. We start by doing research on what products and functions are needed by you, the end user. Once we decide what needs to be developed, we do thorough research to document how it should work for you before we begin to design it.
After initial development, the product then goes to the Engineering lab for torture testing. Hardware must be tough enough to take on extreme electrical stress, vibration, shock, scorching and frigid temperatures, humidity and harsh chemicals. Ag Leader puts every product to the test before it even makes it out of the building.
The next step in the process is in-field testing at the Ag Leader Test Farm. Using the same equipment growers use in the field, Ag Leader’s product testing team “goes live” with the products and see how they respond in field conditions. Once they determine that the products are ready for the real world, cooperators across the country test Ag Leader products on their own farms and give feedback to Ag Leader on what worked well and what needs to be improved. Why do we put so much emphasis into on-farm testing? Growers are usually very adept at observing how a new practice or management option performs, and make decisions based on their own farming experiences. If they weren’t right most of the time, they probably wouldn’t be in business today. And, that’s how we determine when a product is ready for market.
Once we know the hardware is reliable and the software functionality is correct, the final step before shipping production products is to thoroughly wring-out the firmware by testing complete systems of displays, modules, sensors and other hardware together with every supported combination of setups and operating conditions. Any bugs found that affect functionality send the product back to stage two for further development. Only after all this development, is it ready for your farm. We work hard to make sure that the Ag Leader product you buy will give you years of trouble-free service.