Island Automation: Beyond Stand-Alone Apps

Island Automation: Beyond Stand-Alone Apps

During my previous job at Wageningen Economic Research, I worked enthusiastically on programmes for digital innovation in agriculture and horticulture. It was inspiring to see how creative developers developed the most beautiful apps in a short period of time. However, many of these apps were isolated solutions that were hardly integrated with other applications within a company.

This gave me a feeling of déjà vu. I started my career at an ERP service provider. Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software supports the planning, monitoring and administrative processing of (virtually) all business processes in one integrated system. ERP offers a solution for so-called island automation: a patchwork of different software applications that hardly talk to each other. The result is that data has to be retyped over and over again, many errors are made and no timely and reliable management information is available. I was afraid that an explosion of apps would lead to a new wave of island automation. See the Twitter post below from 2012.

And now in 2021, that anxiety seems to have been valid. In his Mansholt lecture, WUR researcher and (former) colleague Sjaak Wolfert raises the alarm about the proliferation of apps that are impeding the digitalisation of the agricultural and food sector. He underlines the following:

Businesses need integrated management support. Thus, an app may be useful, but only if it is compatible with other apps and the underlying larger information systems the company already uses. If this is not the case, advantages quickly give way to disadvantages of, for example, increased administrative burdens. - Sjaak Wolfert, Wageningen University & Research

Mprise Agriware emphasizes the importance of integrated business software, particularly in their Agriware apps. Their approach focuses on seamless integration of apps for both shop floor (Agriware 365 Operations) and office (Agriware 365 Business Central) into a single, consistent data model. Key features include:

  1. Unified Data Platform: The apps operate on a single data platform, enhancing data consistency and reducing errors. Standardized APIs facilitate data exchange, ensuring smooth interoperability not only among the Agriware apps but also with other software solutions.
  2. Agriware Analytics for Data Synergy: This feature amalgamates data from various sources, enriching it with smart algorithms, and presents it in accessible dashboards. This integration enables a data-driven approach in horticulture, fostering effective collaboration across different areas like greenhouses, fields, and office.
  3. Real-time Data for Effective Planning and Execution:
  4. Work orders are sent from Business Central to the Work App, with real-time updates for production planning.
  5. The Inspect App integrates with Business Central for real-time synchronization of inspections, allowing immediate follow-up actions.
  6. Production managers have access to a real-time dashboard with critical data for informed decision-making.
The idea is that while single apps might be fast, apps that work together, like those in Agriware, make things more efficient and help you improve your work.

This integration ensures data is recorded once and instantly available organization-wide, enhancing efficiency, reducing errors, and providing reliable management information for on-the-spot adjustments in the field and office.

Martin Jensen Agriware HD

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