In many ways, we’re just on the cusp of realizing what digital technology means for seed processing.
Electronics are taking over just about everything. In an age when self-driving farm machinery is a reality, what was once science fiction is quickly becoming science fact.
A lot of processing plants are already run by programmable logic controllers (PLCs), which are used for starting and stopping the plant’s equipment. But as we’ve learned from just about every other industry out there, automation slowly but surely shows us that replacing the human touch with the machine touch is not only possible, but also preferable. Humans make mistakes all the time. Machines only make mistakes unless humans tell them to.
Hear me out.
Years ago I had a job managing a processing plant. Every day, a new operator would come in and make their equipment adjustments, even though things were running fine. Everyone thought their own personal setting was better. In their mind, they thought the machine was doing a superior job, when in fact performance was the same. When you added it up, a significant amount of time was wasted tweaking things that didn’t have to be tweaked. The machines were doing fine — it was the people who were getting in the way.
As PLCs get more advanced, people will no longer need to operate the nuts and bolts of processing plants — fans will open and close electronically and tables adjust automatically. Things will be very precise. People will still be needed to check on things, but the machines will be able to do much of the fine-tuning themselves, and a central control room will run it all. That’s good for the industry and the value chain, as it will result in a high-quality, consistent product.
Fear not — new jobs will open up as machines begin to play a more prominent role in seed processing. For example, farmers will be able to retain staff to operate their cleaning plant instead of laying them off after harvest. People will be needed to operate the control room and maintain the machines.
As the saying goes, the future is now, and it’s going to only become more exciting as time goes on. Stay tuned!