Fall 2016 ISOBUS Plugfest Review

Let the testing begin!

Another successful AEF ISOBUS Plugfest is in the bag.  You can check out some of my prior blog posts if you want more detail on what a Plugfest entails, but in short, it is a meetup of Ag electronics manufacturers to test their own equipment with other manufacturers’ equipment. This was a record-breaking Plugfest in terms of participation and it made for some challenges in getting enough time for all participants to test with other manufacturer’s products.  Most of the stations were double-booked for all time slots, and nearly all the time-slots were filled.  This double-booking presented challenges in some cases, but feedback is being taken into consideration for future Plugfests.  I liken this to the “problem” of having insufficient resources to meet customer demand … which sure beats the opposite problem of too little customer demand!

Plugfest in action!

I was definitely encouraged by the size of Plugfest attendance.  Much has been made, and legitimately so, about the negative state of the Ag equipment market.  I am excited to see a continued investment by manufacturers to assure inter-manufacturer compatibility of equipment.  At times there are certainly frustrations when dealers and farmers experience equipment brands not working well together, but only through collaborative efforts like Plugfest and AEF will this situation improve.  I continue to appreciate the conformance test station being offered at the Plugfest to give all manufacturers a taste of the benefits of AEF certification even if they have not yet formally been through that process.

As has been the case for several Plugfests, other AEF activities were held the same week.  I attended the General Assembly meeting, essentially the organizational business meeting open to AEF members.  The AEF re-elected Peter van der Vlugt as Chairman, Marcello Mongiardo as Vice-Chairman, and Mark Benishek as Secretary.  Based on the strong leadership these folks have given AEF over the last several years, I am confident the AEF will continue to thrive moving forward.  I also attended the AEF Conference Day again, though this year it was actually two half-days.  This event provides an opportunity to hear the status and plans of various AEF initiatives such as the extent of AEF certification, newer features like high-speed ISOBUS, and some interesting new legal issues with regards to liability and software licensing.  Maybe software licensing is not an interesting topic for everyone, but I am not everyone and that is something that I find interesting!  At the end of the week, I spent a day with the Communications and Marketing team.  In the past I have joined the Engineering and Implementation team, but I let my colleague handle that this year while I am trying to help with the growth of AEF awareness in North America.  I am not a marketer by nature or by nurture, but sometimes we have to put that to the side and be willing to apply some elbow grease to see the results we want to see.

Some serious work going on here!

Obviously I am an advocate for AEF, ISOBUS, and Plugfest.  Accordingly I am not going to give an unbiased opinion, but if you have any questions or are curious about any of these three items do not hesitate to contact me (contact info below next to my bio).  I hope to see many of you at next spring’s Plugfest in Lincoln in May or at next fall’s Plugfest in October.  I can think of no better event for anyone involved in Ag electronics to attend, at least for a day.

And lastly, I heard from one Finn (Finlander?) and one Minnesotan that they read my preview blog, so please let me know if you read this review and find it useful!