Recap: ISOBUS Spring Plugfest 2018

Wrapping up the last day of Spring Plugfest 2018 in Lincoln NE.

My blog posting this year seems to be following the Steve Miller Band lyric, “Time keeps on slippin’ into the future.” It is now a full month since the AEF ISOBUS Spring Plugfest and I am just now writing my recap. I normally try to get these out sooner, especially since the Fall Plugfest is not too far away … but more on that later.

Speaking of “slippin’ into the future,” that could be a good summary for part of the spring Plugfest week. I learned of multiple AEF and/or Plugfest veterans that are either stepping back from their leadership positions or stepping away completely to pursue other opportunities. Certainly they will be missed, but time marches on, and I am confident volunteers will step up to fill those big shoes.

Of course people change over time, but technology also continues its progression and that is certainly true of ISOBUS. Two big topics at the AEF Conference Day and other meetings were the forthcoming ISOBUS TIM and High-Speed ISOBUS. ISOBUS TIM will introduce digital authentication to allow Ag implements to control tractor functions such as PTO speed or steering, making for an easier operator experience and better optimized field processes. High-Speed ISOBUS will introduce a rugged Ethernet network in parallel to the current CAN network and, as the name implies, increase the network speed substantially. As with the transition from 56K modems to broadband internet, we can expect to not only do more of what we do today with ISOBUS – process data, section commands, GUI updates – but also introduce new applications altogether such as video, over-the-air firmware updates, and large data file transfers. Who knows what other applications a higher-bandwidth channel will enable that we have yet to even imagine!

This year’s spring Plugfest in Lincoln was about the same size as last year. We had three more Servers (stations) than last year and three fewer clients (implements). All told there were nearly 140 people involved as participants, visitors, or meeting attendees. In addition to our “usual” attendees, we also had a group visit from Korea for the first time in my memory. And a special shout-out goes to Winnipeg, which sent folks from 4 different companies including two first time participants.

The focus now shifts to Fall Plugfest which is only three months away – September 18-20 in Bologna, Italy. Two of the AEF meetings I attended in Lincoln were for PT (Project Team) 6 – Communications & Marketing – and PT3 – Engineering & Implementation – and both of these teams are instrumental in planning and preparing the different Plugfest and associated activities. From the PT3 perspective, the upcoming Plugfest will be quite similar to ones in the past and do not require much in the way of unique planning; the location is even the same as it was 2 years ago. For PT6, however, one of the major focuses for this fall is a celebration of AEF’s 10-year anniversary. AEF is planning some special events during the week of Plugfest including bringing back some of the people instrumental to the start of AEF and its early years. DISTek was a fairly early member of AEF, but I was not personally involved until 6 years ago, so I am looking forward to this opportunity to relive some of the AEF history. Of course, I always look forward to a Plugfest, otherwise I would not write so many blogs about it!