The Challenge

Getting anhydrous ammonia fertilizer to the right farm at the right time.

Farming is a $130 billion industry in the US which is very dependent on the timely distribution of key inputs such as seed, fertilizer, and fuel. Farmers in the Midwest depend on agricultural co-ops for these supplies. A large coop may deliver almost a million tons of anhydrous ammonia during a few weeks in the Spring and Fall when soil temperature and moisture is in the optimal range for the nitrogen in the liquid ammonia to bind to the soil.

Anhydrous ammonia is delivered to the field by trucks in “nurse tanks” which the farmers pull through the field to apply to their crop. These tanks are then picked up by the co-op and refilled. Delivering a million tons of ammonia in a window of a few weeks means many of the tanks make multiple round trips per day. There was significant opportunity to reduce delivery cost, improve nurse tank utilization, and improve timeliness of deliveries.

The Solution

Umajin delivered a solution that tracks the location of fertilizer tanks and their levels of fertilizer in real time and provides updated driving routes to truck drivers to ensure efficient delivery.

Working with a hardware partner, tankers carrying the anhydrous ammonia fertilizer are tagged with sensors that can measure both their GPS location and their fertilizer level status. This data is reported over a cellular network and captured by Umajin cloud servers.

Real time location of the fleet of fertilizer tanks is visualized on a map, and geofenced “triggers” capture the time when a tank left or arrived on a truck at a fill station or farm.

A central dashboard provides the tank location, level status, order status, and route information. Farmers can now track the status of their ammonia order as well as location in transit and updates on expected time of delivery.

The Benefits of Umajin

With the efficiencies of multi-user editing and Umajin’s geospatial building blocks a working prototype was available in the first weeks enabling informed and rapid design iterations leading to a high-quality finished product.

Umajin works with a range of partner hardware to track the location of people, assets, and vehicles both inside buildings and outside as well as sensor data such as tank levels, weight, power, and temperature. Combined with 2D and 3D geospatial building blocks including location, geofences, and routing the Umajin Platform enabled tasks like;

  • Evaluating destinations based on distance, average road speed, and wait time.
  • Managing complex delivery, scheduling and optimization tasks.
  • Geofences support thresholding to reduce errors with variable GPS readings. This means assets in the field can be easily found, routed and scheduled.
  • Visualising data in a wide range of 2D and 3D map technologies.

I don’t care about the plumbing of the IOT solution, I just want to know how much it improves my cost and customer service levels

Head of Digital Transformation, Agricultural Coop

Value of the Solution

Location information combined with route optimization and workflow enables an increase in “tank turns”, a reduction of delivery mileage and an increase of tanks that arrive at the farmer’s field during the target delivery window. These efficiencies deliver a return on investment in less than 12 months and improved convenience and service levels should drive an increase in market share.

Tying the spatial solution into the enterprise SAP system will provide end-to-end visibility of their material and logistics operations. This will provide the information required to improve purchasing, hedging of certain purchases, and prepositioning of material to benefit from cyclical price fluctuations.



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