Although this month's Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas is usually associated with the "geek brigade", global manufacturer John Deere chose it to launch new technology aimed at farmers and growers.
With the Health and Safety Act placing the onus on employers, people in positions of power and employees to carry out rural operations safely, a routine safety check of machinery offers the benefits of keeping staff safe from hazards, while also offering the potential to extend the working life of plant.
Two years ago, Danish startup company FarmBackup Task introduced a job-tracking system to rural contractors in New Zealand. More recently, they have introduced a new feature to replace paper-based pre-start safety checks, with the aim to eliminate preventable accidents and breakdowns.
When introduced, Task offered a digital way to keep track of job sheets and ease accounting, with the app helping to digitise and optimise workflows for contractors. Feedback from users has highlighted potential in digitising the safety check sheets which many contractors rely on for their employees to go through prior to using a tractor or machine.
Co-founder Anders Knudsen says since launching FarmBackup Task a couple of years ago, New Zealand has become its home away from home.
“After Denmark, it is our biggest market, so we work closely with rural contractors to help them digitise their workflows, so the addition of safety check sheets made a great deal of sense.”
Contractors can customise the pre-startchecks to suit every machine, with the number of items needing to be checked down to the individual operator. Besides reducing injuries, the daily checks should also prove to be beneficial in the early identification of potential failures, with unplanned breakdowns always having the habit of occurring in the middle of a good harvesting day or just before the last paddock of baling needs to be finished before a storm arrives.
Nagle Contracting from Methven, Canterbury is among the contractors using Farm- Backup Task.
Catherine Leonard from Nagle contracting explains: “Incorporating the Safety Check into the existing app will enable us to identify possible hazards faster and ensure that procedures are followed to help our staff and our machinery run efficiently and safely, so we’re looking forward to implementing the new feature.”
Knudsen says, “when one in four injuries is caused by being stressed out, the checklist will be a friendly reminder to pay attention even when you are busy and on the run”.