Potential and improvement of maintenance efficiency of agricultural machines by a new digital maintenance assistant

Fredrik Regler, Franz Hausmann, Heinz Bernhardt, Max Krueger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


The current situation on agricultural farms is characterized by growing complexity due to a multitude of necessary machines and systems. To maintain competitiveness and to make workplaces safer and more comfortable, automation is advancing rapidly. Farm personnel are therefore challenged by the maintenance, servicing, and repair of an increasingly complex machine fleet, which must be supported by new, time-and cost-efficient maintenance and service concepts. In an online survey on current requirements and problems, damage potentials and performance parameters of different machines were collected. The most critical component for agricultural machines is the Power-Take-Off (PTO) shaft – more than 80.1 % of the participants experienced defects or failure. To analyse the maintenance mentality of farmers, they were asked which criteria they used to arrange maintenance. Only 37.4 % maintain the machines according to actual workload such as operating hours or hectares. 23.7 % maintain based on a routine and 22.7 % maintain when there is time. 16.2 % maintain their machines according to their instinct and thus without a well-founded data basis. Asking for the knowledge about specific maintenance intervals, 54.2 % of the respondents know that these exist for different types of PTO shafts, but less than half of them (46.1 %) follow those intervals. Asking about a digital system to remind them of maintenance intervals, 61.7 % could imagine using such a system. As a prior study shows, inconsistent maintenance can be concluded by ignorance of the consequences of unappropriated maintenance and results in additional costs. According to a simulation, optimum maintenance achieves lower costs with an average reduction of 86.3 % for materials 81.8 % for labor. To achieve optimal maintenance efficiency, the lack of information on maintenance intervals and instructions is solved by a digital maintenance assistant (DMA). A user-friendly application, that convincingly presents its advantages to the end-user, is necessary for a successful establishment. To provide this information accurately, an operation hours counter was developed. The operation hours are transmitted via a Bluetooth protocol to an app on the farmers smartphone. The DMA app provides all relevant information for the installation, repair, and maintenance as well as the current operation hours. The DMA has been tested together with selected farms to prove the usability in real life farm operation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)419-428
Number of pages10
JournalVDI Berichte
Issue number2406
StatePublished - 2022


  • Digitalization
  • Power Trains
  • Precision Agriculture
  • Sensors
  • Tractors


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