Gallagher Scales Weigh Up With New Technology
Gallagher R & D wiped their white boards clean, put on their gumboots and went on-farm to discuss farmer needs before starting work on the new TW-1 and TW-3 Weigh Scales.
The scales represent a complete re-work of the company's stock weighing systems, until now served by both the robust W610 & W810 models and the TSi integrated scale range.
"We were looking for a complete re-design from the ground up. We wanted a design that recognised how farmers interact with equipment. Touch screens are part of their daily lives now, with smart phones and tablets with simple user interfaces, and we wanted to deliver a new generation of scales that shared that simple interface," says Gallagher product manager Dan Loughnane.
A key focus for the designers was user experience.
Often packing multiple features into a specialist piece of equipment like weigh scales requires a complex menu, with options that can be confusing to navigate.
A device like weigh scales may also be one not used frequently by all farmers. This could mean they forget how to use them, making the experience each time frustrating and time consuming. Connecting additional devices like drafting systems and load bars was often another challenge farmers faced.
Trying to extract information from scales and linking it to other systems also proved clumsy and put into the "too hard" basket.
"Farmers told us they often only use 20% of the functionality in equipment and devices, because of complexity, so we spent considerable time developing a very friendly user interface."
Repeated trips out to farmers to test and re-retest improvements in the interface proved invaluable. The resulting TW-1 and TW-3 screen interface is extremely intuitive, from initial scale setup to final weigh data download.
The TW scales usability is also reflected in its touch screen. Its full colour display delivers maximum screen visibility regardless of sun light conditions. It is designed to be extremely robust and tough in a harsh operating environment, repelling water and capable of taking the knocks typical in the field.
The Gallagher team has taken cues from smart phone operation, ensuring every step of the scales operation is easily understood with help options embedded throughout, doing away with the need for an instruction manual.
"The steps are very logical and give the operator every chance to work out where to go next."
The TW scales software is designed to connect simply and quickly to load bars and readers regardless of what brand they may be.
Connectivity is now crucial on all farm devices, and the scales offers a significant advantage over competing brands by connecting with Gallagher's own Animal Performance Software (APS) system.
APS provides easy access to reports on individual animal information, offering timely analysis and understanding of individual and mob performance.
All data recorded in the field can be directly uploaded into the APS software, doing away with the one thing farmers hate the most – having to enter data twice.
"It is just something you do not want to do at the end of the day, and once its down loaded you can simply check out the results, not do more data entry," says Dan.
Links can be achieved via Wi-Fi or Bluetooth, connecting to the user's cell phone bringing up the Gallagher Dashboard software. The Dashboard provides a quick view of crucial animal data, easily visited on tablet, smartphone or PC.
The TW-1 is ideally suited for farmers already using livestock EID, and is capable of weighing and drafting by average daily gain, and drafting on weight ranges.
"It is ideal for finishers and graziers wanting to maximise weight gain, manage poor performers and maximise profit per hectare."
The TW-3 has all the capability of the TW-1, plus the ability to record animal traits, including ownership, breed, sex or age, and the ability to draft the animal based on the recorded traits.
"This is invaluable for a grazier who may have animals in one mob from several different owners, and they want to draft them out into their respective owners' mobs. It can be done easily, with a full report on how each owners' animals performed in that mob."
For stud operators the TW-3 gives them the option to manage animals based on performance attributes other than just weight.
The TW scales have been developed to meet the many needs of livestock farmers who want scales delivering rugged reliability within a design that incorporates the latest in connectivity and ease of use.
"Given most farmers are well familiar with smart phones and touch screens, the TW series will fit easily into their range of devices. It seamlessly delivers them very useful, easy to follow and actionable information on how their livestock are performing," says Dan.
The TW series comes with its own spacious protector bag, and will be launched at this year's Mystery Creek Fieldays.
"We expect there is going to be strong level of interest in them at Mystery Creek. They amount to a new generation of livestock scales that need to be seen to be fully appreciated".