Buzzword bingo or reality: Sensory overload in pig production

Technology is forcing us to think differently about production, labor, investment and facility design.

February 10, 2021

4 Min Read

It's the calm before the storm. You can almost hear the quiet purr of innovation gestating below the surface. Ag tech, Artificial Intelligence, algorithms, machine learning, IoT, central platform, predictive analytics and prescriptive workflow are becoming the norm in conversations regarding technology in protein agriculture. Every sector of the industry is engaging. Genetics, nutrition, pharma, equipment and ventilation companies are all making significant investments in technology.

The quiet purr of development is about to ignite with volcanic power into the pig production marketplace, but the array of options can paralyze decisions and delay adoption.

Are we playing buzzword bingo, or are we ready to engage? Technology is forcing us to think differently about production, labor, investment and facility design. Here are some things to consider as you jump into the future.

Increased value – “That’s Interesting” is not what a technology company wants to hear after a pitch, according to Janette Barnard of Rock Road Consulting. The technology must immediately illustrate a compelling value proposition to the producer. The value of the technology can be measured in a variety of ways, including streamlining workflow, optimizing the barn environment, and monitoring performance and quality. The greater the technology's ability to deliver real-time conditions with analytics, the quicker decisions can be made for intervention. The elimination of catastrophic events through visibility gets us a long way to a favorable value proposition. 

Intuitiveness – The technology must work the way people work. It must work for the caretaker first, or it won’t scale. The ground floor caretaker must love it first. It must get them home to their families quicker at night and provide tools for them to succeed. Second, these solutions need to connect the field operations to company data analytics and data warehouse integration. Solutions like bypassing paper data entry and going directly to the cloud are top of mind. In wean-to-market operations, intuitiveness of the process of data collection should take no longer than the few minutes inventory takes, and will aid integration. 

Integration – How does the technology bolt on or interface with your current systems? The ability to integrate record systems and barn controller platforms will be mission-critical. Open-source access to data by even competing vendors will be critical to the success of the customers we serve. 

Iteration – The road to business value is paved with iterations. Even the best technologies will have iterative changes along the way. Be prepared and committed to pick a partner you trust and iterate with them. We are entering into a field where the iterations will be made into perpetuity. It's just the nature of technology. With each iteration comes a layer of value.  

Implementation – Points of interest for leadership when choosing technology include:

  1. Equipping your people – Technology does not replace people. It is meant to provide a synergistic effect in results. We refer to technology as Human Assisted Production. The core attributes of pigmanship, animal care and humane treatment can never be replaced by technology. However, the human will have to think differently and learn to rely on the accuracy of the technology to make informed decisions.

  2. Open-source data flow – Access and integration of data will be important. Choosing technology that allows for the free flow of data and accessible API’s will be important to build the value proposition for technology.

  3. Think differently – Technology will introduce the need to think differently. The omnipresence of the IoT sensors and the analytics generated will provide metrics of production evaluation we have never seen previously. The quicker we can validate novel analytics that identify opportunities to create value within the pork supply chain, the deeper the implementation will go.   

So, in conclusion, embrace the future. Exciting times are ahead for our industry. The ability to build better lives for pigs and people will be realized in ways we don’t even understand yet. The future is now.

Summit SmartFarms is devoted to creating irresistible places to work in agriculture by simplifying the complex by equipping people to optimize performance through technology.  If you would like to learn more about how Summit SmartFarms can help your organization, you can email Kasey or Valerie

Source: Valerie Duttlinger, Kasey Sheldon, Summit SmartFarms, are solely responsible for the information provided, and wholly own the information. Informa Business Media and all its subsidiaries are not responsible for any of the content contained in this information asset.

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