John Deere

High-Tech in The Commercial Vehicle Industry

In modern agricultural technology, products without a considerable proportion of software have long since become inconceivable. Current agricultural machinery, and tractors in particular, are usually equipped with a multitude of electronic control units carrying out tasks ranging from engine control via safety-relevant functions to networked agricultural applications. Many of the once purely mechanical control elements have meanwhile been replaced in modern tractors by interactive, graphical displays.

The development of such displays, which in the case of John Deere takes place in Zweibrücken and now also in Kaiserslautern, among other places, entails two different kinds of challenges: Since the displays must take over ever more complex tasks, the complexity of the software to be developed for these purposes also increases. In addition, a series of display variants must be developed for different types of agricultural machinery and different applications. This means that certain parts of the software must be developed and subjected to quality assurance differently depending on the product, which results in increased effort, particularly in terms of maintenance and further development.

In the context of the innovation cluster “Digital Commercial Vehicle Technology” (DNT), John Deere is therefore collaborating closely with the researchers of Fraunhofer IESE, and in doing so, using the benefits offered by the cluster in several ways: As far as content goes, the focus of the cluster is equally divided among the areas of basic research, method development, and application projects. As a strategic partner, John Deere thus does not only make use of the research results of the commercial vehicle cluster regarding customer-specific application projects, but is also able to influence basic research and method development in such a way that, to the highest degree possible, the research results will fit the issues that are relevant for John Deere.

In the context of the innovation cluster DNT, the challenges offered by the diversity of variants and the increasing complexity of software were addressed in an application project where the researchers of Fraunhofer IESE and their colleagues from John Deere jointly analyzed the software of modern display systems in terms of their architectures. The methods, techniques, and tools used in this project were developed at Fraunhofer IESE. The analyses made it possible to derive improvement measures based on which both the complexity and the diversity of variants can be managed. John Deere was able to incrementally address the derived improvement measures with the aid of Fraunhofer tools.