A leading global player in the agricultural sector, SESVanderHave specializes in every aspect of the production process of sugar beet seeds. The company’s success speaks for itself: one in three sugar beets in the world comes from an SESVanderHave seed. Needless to say, SESVanderHave is strongly focused on research. Yet Industry 4.0 is lurking around the corner and the company must do whatever it can to keep up with recent developments. Enter the AE team.
Thinking at least 12 years ahead
Worldwide, SESVanderHave sells 360 seed varieties in over 50 countries, the result of a dedicated comprehensive research process. With no less than 190 years of experience, it’s no surprise that the company invests more than 20 percent of its annual turnover in its extensive R&D team which is constantly looking for genetic lines in sugar beets to ensure a good harvest for the customer. The researchers pay special attention to a good sugar yield, resistance to numerous diseases and the plant's ability to survive in different climates. To bring the perfect seed to the market, the R&D team must think at least 12 years ahead. Until now, however, numerous steps of the breeding process involved time-consuming Excel-based data processing due to a lack of end-to-end support of the software supporting the breeding activities.
The search for the ‘single source of truth’
AE initially appeared on the scene to develop a platform that would give SESVanderHave’s researchers more control over their data as well as provide them with a single source of truth. To be able to support such a shift, however, SESVanderHave's technology required a substantial update. AE is therefore helping the company to gradually introduce various new technologies and a new way of working as we speak. In due course, these innovative technologies and process changes will enable SESVanderHave to attain its goal of increasing the ‘genetic gain’ in R&D, for example by foreseeing how seeds will perform based on predictive analytics and current data.
IT meets business
The AE team also supports SESVanderHave on a business level by perpetuating streamlined communications between their IT and business operations, and by helping the organization claim ownership. The search is not easy, but thanks to extensive feedback we know exactly which approach and set of functionalities will best suit the company in the long run.
Industry 4.0: planting seeds for tomorrow
The partnership between AE and SESVanderHave is already bearing fruit and continues to grow. Next to contributing to the product strategy for the data platform, the AE team is currently involved on a general strategic level as well. AE not only helps SESVanderHave overcome the difficulties it faces today, but is also working on an agile plan for the company to face the many changes tomorrow will bring. Industry 4.0, after all, teaches us that industrial companies should not only focus on the automation of current processes, but should also have smart devices interconnect in order to provide hyper-personalized services.
Agricultural customer journey
The agricultural sector is in full swing. It’s only a matter of time before self-driving tractors and drones scanning fields to detect germs will become the new norm. Traditionally speaking, SESVanderHave has a strong focus on genomics. However, the world of farmers, the company’s end customers, is no longer as traditional these days.
For SESVanderHave to become more customer-centric in the future and think outside-in, it must start to take the entire customer journey of farmers into account. Only then will the company be able to offer its customers, in addition to quality seeds, professional advice and numerous added services in the near future. Possible new projects can relate, for instance, to crop management, the detection of diseases by drone, or the best time to harvest. In this way, SESVanderHave will ultimately help farmers achieve the highest possible profit – today as well as tomorrow.
SESVanderHave is more than pleased with its partnership with AE, says Research Director Gerhard Steinrücken:
“To stay ahead of the competition, SESVanderHave has to deliver the best products. We must develop high-quality seeds and increase our R&D efforts, without significant cost increases, to be able to do so. Thanks to AE who reviewed, simplified and refined our research process, we will have just the IT support system we need to manage R&D more efficiently.”
To co-create this support platform, AE applied the unconventional method of challenging SESVanderHave to see their processes from a whole new perspective. Gerhard explains:
“We were not used to working this way. Step by step, though, AE gained our trust through open discussions and by asking us plenty of questions that helped them to better understand our expectations. Their refreshing approach resulted in a tool that is perfectly tailored to our needs, and will be useful to us for years to come.”
While sceptical at first, SESVanderhave is now more than convinced of the added value AE’s challenging approach brings to the table:
“Part of what makes AE so special is their unique culture of constantly striving to improve themselves,” Gerhard continues. “They’re a flexible partner who’s willing to move mountains to help us succeed. We are more than pleased with our partnership with AE, and view our joint efforts as the foundation for our continued collaboration in the years to come.”