Raven Industries Choose Perle Device Servers for integration into Slingshot®

Perle IOLAN STS4 Device Servers provide critical connectivity for GPS transmissions to optimise hydraulic-assisted steering of tractors

Industrial Agriculture – or ‘farming on a large scale’ brings with it many controversies which divide politicians and society as a whole – such as the introduction of genetically modified products into the human food chain, animal welfare, innovative agricultural machinery and so on. Farming techniques may be under scrutiny, however the importance of the annual harvest cannot be underestimated when it comes to providing nutrition for over 7 billion people.

The USA has over 2 million farms, each of which average the size of a small European country, or approximately 450 acres. With falling crop prices and reduced farming subsidies, farmers must maximise every harvest while minimizing overheads. According to the National Institute of Food and Agriculture1, a century ago 30% of the workforce was engaged in farming. Today, less than 2% of the population farm for a living, emphasising the increased part machinery has played in the automation of farming.

At every harvest some loss of product is unavoidable. In order to keep this to a minimum, Raven Industries developed the SmarTrax™ assisted steering device for tractors. This hardware package uses GPS transmissions to optimise the hydraulic-assisted steering of the tractor to allow for faster line acquisition, correction for changes in soil condition and implementation of pull. In a “nut-shell” SmarTrax ensures the tractor drives straight and true so no crops are left un-touched – something that can’t be done by the best of human drivers.


In order to communicate with the on-tractor hardware, Raven Industries required a device which would be able to transmit the GPS signals to the Slingshot Servers which in turn send the GPS signals to the other steering devices on-board the tractor. Having previously worked with Perle Systems on another project, Clint Mundt from Raven Industries turned to Perle with a list of requirements.

The device Raven was looking for would need to be able to receive data from a GPS reference station. The function of the device would be to transmit GPS data and packetize it into compact messages making it ideal for real-time and wireless applications and is particularly suitable for uni-directional communication.

Raven Network Diagram

After extensive testing, the IOLAN STS4 Device Server was selected and integrated into the Slingshot base station. In particular, the feature in the IOLAN which allows for custom packet forwarding sealed the deal for Raven. This feature allowed Raven to optimize the streaming of traffic to the Slingshot servers. Custom Packet Forwarding allows the user to define the packet forwarding rules based on the packet definition or the frame definition.

Clint specified, “The Custom Packet Forwarding allows us to set up our Slingshot Base Station in an optimal configuration regardless of the data type and timing characteristics.”

The SmarTrax™ can be fitted to any tractor and is the optimum solution for maximising yield and profitability while spending as little time on the field as possible.

Check out Perle’s extensive line of Device Servers to find the best fit for your application.

About Raven: http://www.ravenprecision.com

Since 1978, Raven has helped define the concept of precision agriculture—and continues today to bring ground-breaking new ideas and precision products to growers around the world that improve agricultural efficiency, productivity and stewardship of the land.

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