Why Buy a Mixmate - Cost Benefits
Reduce Loss of Inventory
○ One of the common issues a retailer or commercial applicator can experience is loss of inventory. A couple percentage points of error can add up to a significant inventory loss over the course of a season. As an example, a local retailer was weighing chemicals using a very accurate inductor (hopper). Work orders were generated in the office and blends were being mixed according to the work order. However, since the actual amounts used in the blend were not being recorded, only the amounts listed on the work order were being billed. A solution to this problem would be to add a Mixmate scale module to the inductor (hopper). This solution would give automated data logging to their manual mixing system.
The Mixmate app would be used to calculate the batches and also log the target and actual amounts included in the blend. This information helps the operator improve their accuracy. The Mixmate pays for itself quickly with its improved mixing accuracy. The modularity of the Mixmate system allows it to work with your current system to add automation at the level that works best for you. One of the positive comments about our system was, “Sometimes you don’t need a cadillac system, you just need to get the job done.” And that is what Mixmate does . . . gets the job done.
○ Fungicide applications have become very popular here in the Midwest on our corn and soybeans. The treatments are expensive and a large number of acres are typically treated daily. A local aerial applicator will usually service several ag retail locations. When it gets really busy, other applicators will come from other areas to help. The expectations for accuracy are very high and the inventory is watched closely. If an aerial applicator overapplies chemicals, the overapplication expense will typically come out of their pocket so they strive to be very accurate.
Mixmate can help with the accuracy of mixing as well as adjusting the blends to compensate for overlaps. Aircraft have issues with overlaps the same as ground equipment. Square flat fields have very little overlap, but irregular shaped fields with terraces and waterways tend to have more overlaps. Mixmate can adjust the batch strength to help compensate for overlaps. The mix for an irregular shaped field could be adjusted to 95% strength to compensate for a 5% expected overlap.
Improved Mixing Speed
Field efficiency is key to the overall cost of operation. Perhaps a larger sprayer will not add much field efficiency compared to faster loading times. What if you saved 10 to 20 minutes on every fill? Some would calculate that an extra 400 to 900 acres would be covered in a day with a large ground sprayer.
Helicopters have become more popular for spraying but are very expensive to operate. The only way a helicopter can be productive is to load in the field instead of at an airport, because they haul small loads and need to be refilled often. The ground crew has to move between fields and load the helicopter. These guys get a real workout! I have seen them come in at the end of the day and they look beat. Every second counts when you are doing more than 30 or 40 loads a day. With Mixmate, mixing can happen in less than a minute for small loads and streamlines the blending process. At the end of the day, the bottom line bonus is you got more done with less stress.
Mitigate Unskilled or Seasonal Mixing Help
Sooner or later everyone makes a mistake with their calculations or measurements and it is better to have a helpful tool. Sometimes the seasonal help available to drive the tender truck does not have experience with mixing and is more prone to mixing mistakes. This is a common problem for many commercial applicators.
Mixmate makes the actual blending process very easy and will do the calculations and measurements for the operator. Mixmate will measure the products by weight as they are poured from a jug so no premeasuring is required. Actual and target amounts are recorded so operator accuracy can be monitored. To simplify use, operators can be given access to only the mixing areas of the app. Administrators have full control of the system and can filter the options a specific operator will see.
Improve Poor In-field recordkeeping
I am a farmer and one of the best parts of farming is getting out to the field and running the equipment. The actual time spent in the field is the fun part. The window to accomplish a specific operation is usually narrow and we run long hours to get the job done. Recordkeeping takes away from the field time and lowers my field efficiency. I am diligent with my records, but it seems sooner or later I forget a detail that will take time for me to figure out later. This is one of the reasons a hot mix from a large central chemical mixing plant became popular.
Mixmate solves this problem. Mixmate creates the records automatically as I work. Not only does Mixmate improve or completely automate the mixing process, it does my recordkeeping as well. This saves time during and after field work. Mixing and recordkeeping are two of the jobs that are not my favorite. The right tools make any job easier. Good tools are worth it!
Accomodate Variable Field Conditions
○ Several years ago I was speaking with the manager at our local cooperative about in the field mixing. They were mixing in the field for the postemergence applications of chemicals. Mixing in the field gave them the flexibility to change with the varying conditions of a postemergence application. Many variables come into play from field to field, such as weed spectrums and size. Soil fertility and past chemical programs will alter the dominant weed spectrum. Weather conditions leading up to application time can alter the dominance of a certain weed.
One of the patented features of Mixmate is the ability to adjust the mix according to field conditions. A condition such as “Weed Size” can be used to adjust the amount of a specific chemical in the mix. Minimum, maximum, and default rates can be set as part of the prescription. The default rate can easily be adjusted as the season progresses. As the weeds grow, the default size can be increased to match the current general conditions.
○ Most farmers and ag retailers will have a base set of prescriptions covering most of their application needs. A prescription can be shared among many users. So an agronomist is able to effectively manage many users of a single prescription with a single adjustment of the default rate in the Intersect cloud service. Many users could be defined as several Mixmates operating within a single organization or it could include customers of a retail outlet or an agronomist. The Mixmate app can be used to do the mix calculations and recordkeeping even without the Mixmate hardware.
○ Conditional rates give the flexibility of on-the-fly changes to the mix. If there is an ingredient you would like to manually control as part of the mix, you can simply set the condition to equal the rate and then manually enter the rate during the blending process. The Mixmate app will calculate the blend according to the user inputs.
Management Wants Better Information From the Field
We visited with a vegetation management company where they do weed and tree control in right-of-way areas like power lines and railroads. This type of business may have operators scattered across the country. Management needs a way of sending work orders out to the field and getting completed work records back from the field. A work order makes it very easy to use Mixmate in the field. The work order shows up in the job list and can simply be selected to start the mix. The work order populates the app with all of the mixing information and the operator only has to verify the size of the batch and the conditions before mixing starts. Inventory and usage information is also synchronized as part of the work record. This information can be used to maintain supplies to operators in the field.
Our Intersect cloud service connects to the Mixmate app to backup and synchronize data from the field. This cloud service connects the operations in the field to the office. Intersect can be viewed directly from your web browser or it can connect to other software systems. Think of it as the intersection, or the connection point, of your Mixmate data.
Automatic Dispensing as a Service
Have you tried one the Coca-Cola Freestyle machines that will mix the flavor of your soft drink? The machine will mix 126 different flavors from a combination of water, sweetener, and flavor concentrates. Mixmate can be used like a Freestyle machine. A company contacted us that has an array of products that are mixed on-site from concentrates and water. The concentrates are mixed in different proportions to make their different products. Transportation and handling costs are lower since water is not being shipped to the end user.
Mixmate is able to dispense the products as they are needed in the correct amounts for the job. Product usage is recorded and the distributor can remotely monitor the inventory of the concentrates and resupply the end user as a value-added service.
A data connection is the number one feature that growers and commercial operators are seeking. Mixmate was designed from the start to connect to the office and third-party farm management information systems. Our Intersect cloud service provides this connection. Intersect saves time by transferring work orders and work records electronically and reduces the potential for errors.
We have been working with AgGateway for several years to help develop a standard data connection. This API connection is called ADAPT and will ease data transfer between systems. A major manufacturer is ready to take our mix records and send it to their sprayers to produce more accurate as-applied maps and to reduce data entry in the field. Our first data connection beyond Intersect will be with Ag Connections.