June 26th, 2015 | PRODUCT

The inside story of the full-scale production of the YT series

Agriculture for the next generation and feeling pride in farming: Thoughts on the new YT series tractor.

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The new YT series tractor brings together a world's first in design with historically proven technical expertise. More than just a farming machine, the YT series heralds the close integration of Yanmar's business model with farming.

Starting here with this one tractor, Yanmar carves new avenues of communication, connecting with farmers as a partner, in the search for new ways in which Yanmar can make farming better. And in that sense, it all begins here with the full-scale production model entering the market.

Here we speak with the Yanmar service team in charge of the development of the after-sales support systems for the tractor. The interview takes place with Eiji Fujitsuka and Masahiro Inamura from service business division and Takao Kawasaki from solutions promotion division at Yanmar Agri Japan Co., Ltd.

In addition to high quality specs, Yanmar's Premium Inspection Pack delivers a new concept in farming and top-class customer support after the point of sale

--First of all, tell us about the support department's initiatives for the full-scale production of the YT series.

Eiji Fujitsuka In the technical service group of the service business division, we worked on the internal dissemination of product information. This included the creation of product manuals, and product and technical training for employees, so that we at Yanmar can provide customers with quality product information and answer related inquiries.

Masahiro Inamura Up until now, product training was focused primarily on the new features of the product. This time we started with a focus on the thoughts and concepts behind the tractor's development and design. Our starting point was the YT series as a product with design and features which invoke a sense of status and pride. With this philosophy as our driving force, we were able to deliver a tractor that offers stylish and innovative design combined with optimal comfort and performance. Our job is to show everyone within Yanmar, what the product has to offer, including the areas which cannot be understood simply from looking at the specs alone.

Eiji Fujitsuka A full model upgrade, meant that we also had high expectations from our outlets. In that regard, conveying the concept behind the design was important.

--The team's area of work extends from the tractor's concept and specifications through to after-sales service. What are the main features of the service offered with the YT series?

Masahiro Inamura We devised the Premium Inspection Pack service to accompany the debut of YT series. Previously we offered a one year warranty with product purchases. This service offers a free machine inspection one year after the machine is first put into operation. The Premium Inspection Pack includes an additional 50 hour inspection service which includes engine, transmission oil and filter change and a full machine diagnostics check.

Eiji Fujitsuka From the sales side of things, the sense of achievement is felt most at the point of sale, however for the customer the expectations and excitement begins from the point of purchase. This peak of excitement is felt differently by the sales side and customer side. The 50 hour inspection pack provides us with a good opportunity to check in and see if our product has exceeded expectations or to clear up any questions the customer may have. It's just one part of what we are doing to ensure that our customers feel glad that they chose our product.

--As a full model upgrade, detecting any early occurring issues with YT series would be crucial, right?

Masahiro Inamura The 50 hour initial inspection pack is certainly aimed towards machine trouble-shooting; however it has the added benefit of deepening customer relations. Some things only come to light only after having tried out and used the machine for some time after the purchase. Of course while our role is to provide answers to our customers' questions, we also want to hear customers' feedback and opinions. We have provided a section on the inspection sheet where the customer can fill-in such opinions. It's a mixture of excitement and uncertainty as we cannot predict our customers' responses; however, we are committed to enhancing the level of interaction we have with our customers. This is one of the goals behind offering the Premium Inspection Pack.

--So, the point of sale is where it really begins then?

Eiji Fujitsuka That is precisely the message of the concept tractor. To leverage avenues of communication to deliver more to our customer.

Yanmar's fully integrated agricultural telematics system, SmartAssist, maximizes service

--Interaction with farmers is not limited to machine inspections, rather it is now something that has become a daily occurrence, right?

Takao Kawasaki SmartAssist offers every day service. The SmartAssist compatible machines are equipped with a GPS and a communication terminal, integrated to protect the machine by directly alerting the service personnel in the case of an error occurring.

Yanmar service personnel will then contact the customer directly upon receiving the alert, in cases, detecting the error before it has been recognized by the owner of the machine. Sensors equipped to the tractor optimize response time by determining the location of the malfunction. Moreover, the service team can prepare the replacement in advance based on this information. Previously, such occurrences required the farmer to halt farming operations and phone through to the service center, resulting in down-time. Ensuring that farmers can continue operations with minimal down time is equally as important as enhancing machine specifications.

Offering up to 10 years of service free of charge, Yanmar is currently the only company providing both GPS and communication terminal systems in Japan.

--While the Premium Inspection Pack and machine diagnostics are impressive, the speed at which it is delivered is even more surprising.

Takao Kawasaki Nowadays, farmers are pro-actively utilizing telematics for farm management and operations. The recording of agricultural information such as cultivation planning and crop history has become digitalized enabling more precise crop planning on an annual basis. And, the number of farmers employing such advanced practices is increasing. If the machine was to break down, then all this planning would need to be adjusted, potentially resulting in a loss of expected revenue.

Moreover, purchasers of SmartAssist compatible machines will have access to the SmartAssist online web page where the daily condition of the tractor is automatically recorded. From the accumulated information the farmer can produce a daily report of farming operations, allowing for the digital storage of information previously recorded by hand. This service provides farmers with a valuable tool for creating advanced management plans and forecasting. Moreover, Yanmar can provide quality advice on maintenance scheduling.

--The digitalization of information amongst farmers in Japan seems to be progressing quite rapidly.

Takao Kawasaki Farmers engaged in advanced agricultural practices have expressed a strong interest in telematics during previous conversations. Moreover, during research seminars we received quite enthusiastic responses on this topic. I think customers will become more adept at utilizing mapping software, provided on the SmartAssist web page, enabling users to create detailed digital field maps. Furthermore, with agricultural telematics appearing more in other manufacturing industries and IT related enterprises; it's suitable to say that this is a trend that will likely continue. The YT series integrates advanced design with the same agricultural telematics technology, making it appealing to a wide range of people.

Continuing to go the extra mile, Yanmar's premium service delivers unrivaled value

--In talking with the team here today, it is duly noted that the new YT series, as the center piece of the Premium Brand Project, provides customers with a premium grade service.

Takao Kawasaki The Remote Support Center was established in conjunction with the introduction of the SmartAssist technology. The facility was established to provide 24 hour protection of Yanmar customers' machines 365 days a year. One example is the theft prevention system. The operating hours and scope of operation are preset into the machine so that if the machine is utilized outside of these hours or scope of operations then an alert is automatically sent to the center. At the same time, an alert is sent to Yanmar service personnel and the customer. As a support system that offers 24 hour surveillance 365 days a year, it provides customers with added premium service and a sense of safety in using Yanmar's products.

Eiji Fujitsuka The premium service we are offering is unlike anything offered elsewhere. Yet, regardless of how new the service we are offering is, it's never long before something similar appears. And when that happens, we will respond with even better service. Premium service is about constantly staying one step ahead.

--While the YT series describes Yanmar's business model and approach towards farming, as a Yanmar service representative, how do you plan to advance agriculture from here?

Takao Kawasaki Digitalization and the field of agricultural telematics, has the power to transform agriculture as we know it. Being able to conduct farm operations and oversee operation planning with a hand held tablet, from inside the cab, holds strong appeal for younger generations, delivering a new and trendy image for agriculture. Providing a service that minimizes down time is crucial. In addition to the SmartAssist, following-up with the customer after the sale or trialling of our products, and consulting with the customer is pivotal to ensure these goals are met at all times. We are constantly pursuing new ventures to ensure the continued deliverance of new products that exceed our customers' expectations.

--And the YT series is just the beginning of what is to come, right?

Eiji Fujitsuka We revolutionized the tractor. And, the YT tractor is not just a design; it describes a concept which we want to convey to the world.

Profiles

Service business department, technical service group, service business division, Yanmar Agri Japan Co., Ltd.
Masahiro Inamura

SmartAssist group, solution promotion division, Yanmar Agri Japan Co., Ltd.
Takao Kawasaki

Research group, technical service group, service business division, Yanmar Agri Japan Co., Ltd.
Eiji Fujitsuka