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Dot power platform comes to Ontario

Posted on Sep 27th, 2019 by Rebecca Degelder

Dot power platform comes to Ontario

Ontario farmers recently got their first look at the Canadian-designed Dot Technology Corp. autonomous power platform and several implements — including a first look at a planter prototype.

The machine was part of twice-daily demonstrations at the recent Canada’s Outdoor Farm Show near Woodstock.

Dot — named for president and owner Norbert Beaujot’s mother Dorothy — was created by the Saskatchewan entrepreneur over the past five years. About 10 of the units are working in Prairie fields this year.

 

Beaujot, president and owner of Dot and Seedmaster says Dot isn’t a tractor, but a power unit that combines with an implement, fully integrated.

The unit, which is U-shaped, with a 170-horsepower Cummins diesel engine on one side of the U, slides around the implements. That means the implement provides ballast for the unit, keeping it balanced and with enough power and weight to the ground.

The new planter is a prototype unit that Dot is working on with Frank Prince of Capricorn Bay Ltd., a Manitoba innovator bringing planter technology to Prairie crops that usually are seeded with a drill. A planter is also a critical piece of equipment for the eastern Canadian and American markets.

The 12-row prototype planter was easily handled by the Dot unit, although it didn’t yet have seed or fertilizer bins attached. Beaujot said at a media day introducing the machine that the bins have been designed, but weren’t yet ready to make the trip to Ontario. The planter currently has six rows of John Deere row units and six rows of Harvest International row units. It is designed to work with liquid in two different configurations. Row spacing is currently 30 inches.

The Dot power platform with a new 12-row, 30-inch-row-spacing planter attached.photo: John Greig

A Seedmaster seeder and a dry fertilizer spreader were also demonstrated at the Ontario show. A 120-foot sprayer has also been developed.

Beaujot said in an interview that no tillage attachments have been developed yet, as his Prairie customers are mostly all no-till, so a tillage implement isn’t a big priority. He says tillage tools would be easier and quicker to design as there’s less need for software, as the tillage process is simpler.

“It’s just not on a high list of our direct customers in Western Canada,” he says.

Boujet says he expects the system to be most employed in broad-acre Prairie-type farming. Dot can manage the power and planting and crop care needs for 3000 acres in a season. He says four Dot units can be managed by a farmer with one iPad.

He says there are, however, some highly interested potential customers in Ontario. There is no timeline yet, as they are keeping current sales close enough to their base in Saskatchewan for service reasons. He says they could discuss dealership options while in Ontario at COFS.

He said the first Ontario purchaser will need to “have the intelligence and the patience to learn everything”.

Road transport is one of the challenges yet for Dot. It is currently moved on a trailer, but the 12-foot width is an issue on roads. The company is working with an insurance company to figure out acceptable coverage to move the machine under its own power, tethered electronically to a pickup truck ahead of it, and expects to be able to try that option soon.

Insurance companies have “been friendly,” says Beaujot, as they see it as a way to reduce injuries to people.

There are several safety layers, starting with the need for a farmer to approve a field plan and pathway before Dot starts to move and including radar and lidar sensors for objects and a wire at the front of the machine that will cause the unit to stop whenever anything hits the wire.

Beaujot says the company is developing a smaller horsepower and travel width unit for the European market where everything has to fit into three metre widths for road travel. That unit size could also be attractive in Ontario.

The system will require a whole change in management thinking on farms, he says. It also can change things completely for farm families.

Rob Saik, CEO of the Dot Technology Corp. is more forceful in describing the change. He said at the show that the technology will free farmers from their “glass cages” or the cabs where they spend so much time.

Greig, John. “Dot Power Platform Comes to Ontario.” Farmtario, 27 Sept. 2019, farmtario.com/machinery/dot-power-platform-comes-to-ontario/?module=carousel&pgtype=homepage&i=1.