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Andreas Osters and Christof Voß are standing on a meadow. The one on the left is holding a tablet and looking at the screen. The one on the right is pointing straight ahead with his right hand.
Digitalization is a new business field for our company. Here we have the opportunity to install a very strong customer loyalty tool and set ourselves apart from the ​competition.
Andreas Osters und Christof Voß, Contractor Company, Prignitz, Germany - Fendt 700, 800, 900 Vario, FendtONE
Digitalization is a new business field for our company. Here we have the opportunity to install a very strong customer loyalty tool and set ourselves apart from the ​competition.

The green revolution

The tasks have changed. For a long time, contractors were called in purely as service provide resources in home mechanisation. In the meantime, they have become an important link in precision farming. Osters & Voß continues to adapt its offering and upgrade digitally.
The work of a contractor requires that he is always on top of technical developments. Therefore, he always has a keen interest in making things easier to organise and keep track of. To do this, he uses other, modern technology - digital technology. But no matter how great his interest, there is often not enough time in the day-to-day running of the business to take the next step in the ongoing process of digitalisation. Not so at the contracting company Osters & Voß. Here, investments are consistently made in new technology, for example in around 20 new Fendt tractors per year. Over the summer months, FendtONE has become part of everyday life. The ease of use of the system is a key point in driving the development of the business forward.

Sought and found

Andreas Osters and Christof Voß met during their training as mechanical engineers at the Strautmann company in Bad Laer. 30 years ago, when they were both 23 years old, they founded their contracting company in the Prignitz, in Brandenburg. Their wish to turn their interest in modern agricultural technology into their profession thus became reality. Whether it was a tractor or a combine harvester - driving huge machines across fields excited both of them then and now.
For the driver, the cab is the room in which he spends many hours - the contractor's living room, so to speak. That's why comfort and ease of operation were crucial for the young entrepreneurs. It wasn't just a matter of "get on the tractor, press the clutch, put it in gear, step on the gas and shift up until the last powershift stage is engaged!" - no, right from the start they paid attention to a good working environment: Air conditioning, perfect arrangement of the control levers, vibration and shock absorption or even tinted windows. This is one of the reasons why Osters & Voß have been relying on Fendt for their tractors for more than 20 years now.
From small beginnings, one of the largest agricultural contractors in Germany has developed over time. Today, the new Fendt 900 Vario series is particularly popular on site. The tractors have proven to be extremely reliable and only see the Osters & Voß workshop for routine oil changes.
Manuel Kleinhans sits in the cab of the Fendt Vario. He operates the FendtOne terminal, which is installed in the cab.
Manuel Kleinhans is completing his training at Osters & Voß. He quickly became familiar with the new FendtONE operating philosophy.

Time jump

The next generation feels the same way. Manuel Kleinhans was fascinated by working in the fields even as a child. But he didn't have to wait until he was grown up to be able to easily reach the pedals and drive the modern stepless tractors. From an early age, it was a matter of getting on and getting to the new multifunction joystick, which is equipped with additional functions. Every generation has its own demands in terms of comfort and operation. The designers at Fendt know this too.
When developing the FendtONE philosophy, intuitive and individual operation and working ergonomics were at the top of the list of requirements. It lets the horse and driver roll calmly towards the field. Once on the field, things become even calmer: the ergonomically optimised cross-shift lever ensures that implements can be operated with just a few grips. Pure technology. Manuel's father, Rainer Kleinhans, works as a technical trainer for Fendt. That's why Manuel's dream job was quickly decided: agricultural service specialist. Today, the 19-year-old is in his second year of training at Osters & Voß in Groß Gottschow.

Step by Step

The manual aspects of the training are supplemented by commercial, creative and communicative content. Of course, this does not mean that the apprentice draws crop circles in a field with a tractor: This is not what is meant by creativity in agriculture. Manuel not only operates and guides agricultural machinery, but also maintains and services it. He also advises customers and markets agricultural services. This is now a matter of course for him. The ongoing digitalisation of the world of work and professions can change fields of work and requirement profiles.
In the past, his bosses drove directly to the pit with the slurry tanker and filled the barrel, but nowadays Manuel's way with the tanker - a Fendt 724 Vario with a 24 m³ slurry barrel - first leads to the farm manager. The regulations is required by the fertiliser ordinance, as the ​permitted spreading quantity is strictly regulated. In order to be able to spread the slurry in compliance with the law and, if necessary, on a site-specific basis, the young man enquires about the desired application rate. He then enters the data into the terminal on the 724 and off he goes. Precision agriculture is possible thanks to the networking of big data and machines. To be equipped to use these technologies, skilled workers need to acquire the relevant knowledge.
And that's what the trainee has done. The smartphone is always in the digital native's pocket. Mobile apps have also become a standard in agriculture. They allow flexible use of the software at any time and any place, even outside the office. Manuel can receive work orders from the office at any time.
Osters and Voss sit in front of a computer screen in their office.
From the tractor to the office: The recorded data from the field work automatically converge in the company's online platform.

Connection from tractor to office

The manufacturers have also recognised how important this is and so FendtONE now also has an offline version. No manufacturer can ignore digitalisation and modern agricultural software any more. Systems are interesting when they support the farmer in the core of his productive work.
When Manuel learned that 20 new Fendt Varios would be rolling onto the farm at Osters & Voß this year - some of them equipped with the FendtONE technology now available for these series - he sat down at the PC with his father and studied the operation intensively. It is easy for him and he is sure that his colleagues will also quickly get to grips with FendtONE. "It's only a question of time until they have the three terminals under control," says the young man.
The new Fendt 700 Vario all have a 10" digital dashboard display, a 12" terminal on the armrest and a 12" terminal on the headliner. "You have to take time to get to grips with the new operating system. Once you understand the logic, ​the processes are much faster and more logical and you can work through the increasingly complex tasks," explains the apprentice. However, he also admits that there is a small handicap: There are still some old tractors around, so you have to work with different systems. Around 100 Fendt Varios of the 700, 800 and 900 series are available for use by customers at the four operating sites of the Osters & Voß contracting company. This year, the first 20 tractors were replaced.

Up to date

A few years ago, the Osters & Voß company faced a similarly large digital challenge. It is obvious to everyone that the handling of around 100 Fendt tractors, 60 trucks, as well as harvesting and grassland technology, wheel loaders and telescopic loaders, sugar beet harvesting technology, transport trailers, slurry tankers and numerous machines for soil cultivation, fertilisation and sowing can no longer be carried out with pen and paper. As early as 2014, the contracting company therefore invested in agricultural software that is used in the office and on ​the field, as the data can no longer be managed with offline solutions or Access databases. Information is captured digitally and data records are combined using smart algorithms.
For the two entrepreneurs, it is important that they have an overview at their desks of where their employees and, above all, their machines are working. The drivers use a smartphone app to record what is happening in the fields: Who did what on which fields and when? All of the recorded data converges on the farm's online platform. Here, they are documented and automatically evaluated. In the future, further data will ben sources integrated. This is what customers now need from the contractor to maintain the field index.
Ultimately, the benefits that digitization brings only become apparent in practical application. "No matter what we tell the customer - if he sees that we use a technology and recognizes the added value it brings, then he is more willing to use it himself," explains Andreas Osters. The bosses also teach this to their trainees. As soon as Manuel Kleinhans is deployed for the first time in sowing, he not only has to be able to explain the technical aspects of the measures to the customers, but also shine with agronomic knowledge.
"Digitalization is a new business field for our company. Here we have the opportunity to install a very strong customer loyalty tool and set ourselves apart from the ​competition. The agricultural market is shrinking, the contractor industry is growing. That is why I am firmly convinced that Smart Farming is the only way forward. We are trying to prepare young farmers and agricultural service specialists for this in their training today," Andreas Osters sums up.