EZfeed Software Frequently Asked Questions
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What is a typical feeding procedure with EZfeed?
Before I answer the question about a typical feeding procedure, it's good to know that the EZfeed software is very flexible and can accommodate most methods of mixing and delivering feed. Our customers are pleased about how easy the program can be adapted to their operation. Our goal isn't to tell you how to feed, we want to help you track what you are doing so you have a way to evaluate your methods.
Because of it's flexibility, you can use EZfeed in a lot of different scenerios - you can read more about some advanced uses of EZfeed software in a question below.
To answer the question about a typcial or basic feeding procedure, here is a description of what we call a scripted feeding scenario:
- The feeder selects a load (which is a list of ingredients in a ration) using the EZfeed tablet software on a rugged tablet mounted inside the cab of a tractor or mixer.
- The tablet will display the ingredients for that load and begins to communicate with the scale indicator attached to the mixer.
- From the loader, the feeder watches the scale indicator display for loading instructions and the software guides the feeder through the ingredients one at a time, loading the prescribed amount as prompted.
- The feeder then enters the cab of the mixer or delivery truck and following any required pauses for mixing, the feeder is prompted to go to the first pen on the list. Then the feeder unloads the amount shown in the software and moves to the next pen on the list.
- At the end of each load, all the actual loading and unloading information is saved and displayed on the tablet so the feeder immediately knows how well they did.
- The loading and unloading data is then synced to the office computer as soon as the tablet computer connects to a WiFi signal.
This is only one scenerio called a scripted load. You can watch a detailed demonstration of Scripted Loads plus, the more adaptable Flex Loads on at amelicor.com/tablet.
How does the information get transferred from the tablet to the Office Desktop Computer?
Our EZfeed tablet system offers a robust way of holding on to and syncing data to the desktop software in the office and it's done with a WiFi network connection.
This is nice because WiFi networks are very reliable, quick, and they are also very economical to install around the farm. But, to be reliable you have to provide access points on the farm.
If a tablet goes out of range of the WiFi network, the software is robust and the wireless syncing will stop until the tablet is back in range of the signal so you don’t have to worry about losing data.
To maintain a reliable WiFi signal we recommend the following:
- There needs to be good WiFi coverage in the area where the mixer is loaded. That way the data will be syncing while the feed is being loaded making productive use of time.
- If you have multiple loading areas, additional access points are recommended to provide coverage while loading in those areas as well.
Also, something else to think about... For a very reliable network, on-site support will be needed. This is important so you can have a quick response time when equipment is down. Because of that, we recommend that you work with your IT person, a local IT company, or your local internet provider to get the best setup and support for your operation. Feel free to have them contact us and we can provide WiFi router and tablet internet access requirements to help them make the best decisions.
How does the tablet connect to the scale indicator?
There are lots of ways to connect the scale to the tablet, but there are 2-3 more common options:
- You mount the Scale indicator on the mixer with the tablet in the cab of the tractor (This is the least expensive option – but it also requires the feeder to see the display on the mixer and a long cable for the tablet to communicate with the scale indicator).
- The most common method we see is to mount the Scale indicator inside the tractor alongside the tablet and then a remote display is added to the side of the mixer. This makes it easier for the feeder to see the scale indicator and the remote display is larger for the loader to see.
- The third method is a bit of an upgrade to the last method. The scale indicator is still mounted in the tractor alongside the tablet... but instead of or in addition to having the remote display on the mixer... a Cab Control is mounted in the loader. The cab control is a display that communicates wirelessly with the scale indicator in the tractor. This makes it real easy for the loader to see because it’s right there in the loader.
What scale heads are supported?
We are able to use Avery Weightronics (AWT640) and many of the Digi-Star scale heads that have a serial port. If your scale head isn’t equipped with a serial port, we can usually accommodate it by sending it off to be upgraded and we can give you a loaner to use while you are waiting. However, the best way to know if your scale head is supported is to ask!
Can I make changes to the EZfeed data from the tablet while I’m out in the tractor?
The answer here is yes... to a point. We have made certain vital functions in EZfeed available to be edited using the tablet and mobile software, but permission for the functionality has to be enabled using the desktop software.
There are many options, but the most popular changes to make on the go are:
- Pen count changes
- Target amounts to feed ( both As Fed or Dry Matter Fed)
- Ingredient dry matter changes
- Feeding Scenarios
What are the main benefits of the EZfeed software?
- For starters, it is very easy to use and learn. It’s one of those programs that has a lot of functionality which makes it very powerful... but it’s easy to get up and going.
- It's great for owners and managers because you can easily track if your feeders are doing it right. And for feeders... it helps you meet goals and improve because you get immediate feedback. It answers the question, "Did I load the right amount and how close did I get to the goal?" It’s easy to see because each ingredient is color-coded - green is within the limits and red is outside of the limits.
- In the office, you can take advantage of extra insights by linking EZfeed with your herd software programs. EZfeed can also interface with many creameries to easily download milk production information. This helps you associate feeding with the core of your business!
- For additional insights, you can link the EZfeed software up to a weather system to see how changes in weather affect production over time.
- And probably one of the great benefits for anyone in the office is to reduce the challenges with tracking inventory. Even better, you can automate a lot of your inventory management headaches by connecting EZweights to track deliveries and loads leaving the farm. EZweights is our platform scale management program.
Of course, there are many other benefits – but these are some great ones to start.
How is EZfeed installed and set up?
This is another area our customers love - we are very hands-on. To get you up and going, an Amelicor representative will take care of the installation on your farm. We will install the software and take care of the connections that allow the software to interface with your existing or new equipment. With your existing hardware, interfaces will need to be in place before installation takes place such as the WiFi network or a mixer scale. When the Amelicor representative visits, here is what a typical installation will look like:
- We will install the software in the office and connect the tablets to each mixer.
- Then we will get your people involved and do the initial setup and training for feed managers and owners. This means showing them how to add ingredients, create rations, add pens, and create loads.
- We then get to the heart of your operation and begin feeder training for feeders and feed managers. We typically start training feeders at the time of the morning feeding.
- That will lead to secondary training for feed managers - this includes all the administrative stuff like making changes, reviewing loads, running reports, and setting up interfaces.
What kind of support do you provide?
Support is our number one priority. To keep it easy, typically the person who does your installation will also be available by phone. In addition, a support representative will be assigned as an additional direct contact when your installer cannot be reached. Other ways to get support include:
- Our EZfeed support staff is available during regular business hours 8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. Mountain Time (MT)
- And, after hours there is phone support available, but it's best to get with your primary contact and discuss how that will work.
- For non-urgent matters... you can always fill out the form on our website at amelicor.com/support and we will get back to you.
The software is very easy to get started with, but there is a lot of functionality that can help you grow your business - including many advanced features.
What kind of training do you have available?
- Every year in October, we host our Herd and Feed Management Conference which lasts 2-3 days and is usually in Las Vegas. We change that up every once in a while, but Vegas is an easy place for everyone to get to. At the conference, you can take advantage of networking with other dairy professionals, attend software-specific training classes, hear from industry speakers, and participate in one-on-one training sessions. The conference is a great way to immerse yourself in learning the software and we try and keep it as economical as possible by getting sponsors involved so that they can subsidize some of the costs for the conference. There is something for every part of your operation so you should definitely send someone every year.
- Typically in the Spring, we come to you for software-specific training by hosting meetings in various locations. To hear about those events, subscribe to our emails at www.amelicor.com/subscribe. Feel free to reach out and let us know if you have an idea for training in your area.
- And, because it is the nature of our business model, on-site consulting and training are always available as needed.
- Finally, we provide video training online - including certifications - so that you can be confident in what your employees know and they can be confident in their area of expertise.
What are some advanced uses of EZfeed? (Also, Do you support batching and automation systems?)
EZfeed software is very flexible and can be used with most batching and automation systems we've come across.
When you use EZfeed software with this kind of system, it creates efficiency upon efficiency because your feeding process becomes more seamless.
We've installed EZfeed with:
- Calf milk-replacer batching systems
- Calf grain mixers
- Batch boxes
- Stationary mixers
- And fully automated batching systems.
Another more advanced solution in EZfeed allows you to quickly replace a ration when you run out of a key ingredient in your primary ration.
In instances where a feed supplier is not very dependable, you can have alternate rations setup that can be switched immediately if you run out of an ingredient.
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