NDTO Member Profile: John Deere Electronic Solutions’ Products hold up to Challenging Environmental Conditions, Standards
Posted on May 21, 2015
When your job is to operate heavy construction equipment, you’re sure to be working in some difficult environments. You’ll face severe heat, cold, pouring rain, wind and rugged terrain. Perhaps your motto is “There is no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing” as the old Scandinavian proverb goes. You just put on your Carhartts and tough it out. You also need to have tough equipment that is prepared to work in those same conditions. Wind, rain, extreme temperatures and rough ground are hard on equipment, too. And if you’ve invested in some high-end machinery with advanced electronic components inside, you may wonder if those will hold up to the elements, as well. For Fargo’s John Deere Electronic Solutions (JDES), these situations are their specialty.
“We design and manufacture various electronic components for what we call harsh physical and harsh electrical environments,” said Chuck Needham, JDES’s Manager of Sales, Marketing and Program Management. “These components need to survive in ‘John Deere’ environments, which are typically off highway. They’re made to withstand vibration and mechanical stresses as a result of our design and manufacturing know-how.”
Originally founded in 1987 as Phoenix International, the company was started by three entrepreneurs that began designing and manufacturing hardware and software for the agricultural industry. In the mid 90’s they began making engine controllers for John Deere, a product that JDES continues to improve to meet environmental standards. John Deere recognized the value of Phoenix International and strategically acquired larger portions of ownership until they became full owners in 1999. “The culture of Phoenix was very similar to John Deere,” said Bryan Bossert, Operations Manager of JDES, “It was a good fit.” They maintained dual brands until January 2014 when the Phoenix International name was dropped and the company became John Deere Electronic Solutions.
JDES designs and manufactures integrated electronics in numerous industries such as agriculture, heavy construction, forestry, mining, military, material handling and electronic hybrid vehicles. JDES has designed innovative controllers for engines and general vehicles, graphical displays, and telematics to enable wireless communication with equipment and a customer interface known as JDLink™.
JDLink™ allows equipment owners to stay in touch with the diagnostics and operations of their machinery online. Heavy equipment operators will know exactly where their equipment is being used, how it’s performing and if it needs servicing from anywhere they can access the internet.
Such capabilities allow you to fix problems before they’ve even occurred. But maybe you’re a business or equipment owner and have larger issues to address. Let’s say your equipment is deep in the Black Forests of Germany harvesting timber, where you face such obstacles as deep snow, steep slopes, and rocky ground in addition to low emission level requirements and paying more euros than you’d like for a liter of diesel. In this case, you’d want a heavy, rugged piece of equipment that also happens to be a hybrid.
The solution is a product that comes directly out of the doors of Fargo’s JDES facilities – a high powered inverter used in hybrid electric vehicles. An inverter converts electricity from a direct current source, such as a hybrid battery, to alternating current. This product – designed, manufactured, and tested in JDES’s power electronics building on 19th Ave North – has performed so well that it has become very popular in Europe, where strict environmental standards must be satisfied. JDES’s inverter has allowed significant increases in fuel efficiency and reductions in overall emissions within hybrid equipment, while still being able to handle extreme temperatures, heavy vibration, moisture, dirt and dust.
JDES’s inverter goes beyond agricultural and construction equipment. “The environmental regulations in Europe really promote the use of hybrid vehicles,” said Tom Budan, General Manager of JDES. “Or just for fuel economy, due to European fuel prices. There’s even a line of Swedish buses made by Scania that are using our inverter on their municipal buses.”
JDES prides itself on a culture of innovation, and is committed to its role as a support organization of John Deere. Their goal is to enable John Deere equipment divisions to be successful. However, they also do business with customers other than John Deere that are in similar but non-competing markets. For example they provide electronics for JLG’s aerial access equipment, Valmont Irrigation, and NACCO Materials Handling Group’s Hyster-Yale line of forklifts. JDES can provide solutions for multiple sectors as each line will have similar product demands, expectations, and the same need for robustness due to the environments that the electronics experience.
As exciting as it is to see their products finding solutions in challenging environments around the world, JDES is quite content to be in Fargo. “Building great relationships internationally is a special part of the job. We are better people for having those experiences and meeting those people” said Budan, “but we love being in North Dakota.”
For more information about John Deere Electronic Solutions, please visit www.JohnDeere.com/jdes