IoT.nxt appoints CEO

Centurion, South Africa. 31 May 2022. IoT.nxt®, specialist Internet of Things (IoT) solutions provider and subsidiary of the Vodacom Group, appointed Vasin Govender as its Group CEO, effective 1 June 2022. Govender will take over the reins from Shane Cooper, who served as acting CEO since March 2021.

“Vasin was appointed after an extensive executive search as we were looking for an individual who can accelerate IoT.nxt’s tech adoption around the globe. We have projects running in multiple countries in diverse industries but have only scratched the surface of what IoT.nxt’s award-winning technology can deliver,” says Wayne Fitzjohn, Chairman of IoT.nxt and CEO of Investment Holding Company Talent10.

“We are confident that his extensive experience and understanding of the technology sector, as well as his grasp of complex business operations across continents, will make a major contribution in our evolution as a globally trusted brand in IoT,” Fitzjohn says.

Govender says serving as Group CEO of IoT.nxt is an exceptional opportunity. “The company’s unique technology set will revolutionize how companies procure and implement technology solutions. It has a proven track record and is a clear market leader in terms of speed to value, scalability and ease of implementation. It gives me great pleasure to lead this young and dynamic start-up, as we embark on a journey to dominate the global market.”

Vasin previously served as a Director and Board member of Accenture South Africa, with over 24 years of consulting experience in several industries and technologies. He has played several leadership roles in SA and globally, including CE of Resources SA, Global SAP Mining Practice Lead and EALA Market Maker Lead. He has served in Global Account Executive roles for several Fortune 500 companies.

Shane Cooper will resume his role as Chief Operating Officer of IoT.nxt.

What Smart Farming Really Looks Like

The agricultural space impacts the daily activities of people across the world – this will never change. What has changed is how we drive the operational efficiency within the agricultural industry. Let’s get practical about what smart farming really looks like.

 Many farmers have already implemented best of breed technologies on their farms to try and circumnavigate the steady cost increases and tumultuous conditions associated with farming at scale. It is also important to remember that there has been an increase in smaller-scale farmers who will also impact the market and who face the same challenges.

Over time we have learnt what it takes to create the best harvest or rear the best feedlot animal. So, how do we ensure that, moving forward, we continue to be able to do more with infinitely less as conditions – and markets – become tougher to compete in? The answer is the smart deployment of technology.

Putting power back in the hands of farmers

Now, for many farmers, the cost of implementing technology seems alarming, the infrastructure needed seems monumental and the difference “smart” can make seems vague at first – unless you know exactly how to use it.
What is the difference between an old Ford 5500 and a new John Deere 5050D when it comes to getting the job done, be it ploughing a land, cutting eragrostis for fodder or pulling a fire wagon during the fire-break season? What pushes us to rip out whole bore-hole pumps and irrigation systems which already have timers on them, in order to replace them with a new version that allows for remote timer changes and water usage monitoring? What demands us to monitor soil to understand the PH and moisture levels to determine optimal seed and irrigation times? This all becomes costly to implement and manage, time-consuming to monitor and, at the end of the day, none of these new smart systems allow me to really farm smarter. They allow me to understand certain aspects better but really, what is the difference?

How the processes intertwine

This was the mindset I had before I learnt what IoT.nxt has been able to bring to the table. Imagine having the ability to not only know the impact an irrigation system has had on a borehole or dam but being able to correlate that back into the moisture and PH levels of your soil to ensure the correct seed and fertilizer are being used for your farmland. Imagine if you could use a weather station on your farm to tell your irrigation system when to switch on and when to wait for imminent rain, automatically. Imagine loading livestock when the price will be up and linking it back into the intake of the group of cattle to ensure optimal feeding versus profit. Imagine all these processes being intertwined in such a way that they all speak to each other and allow you to understand every moving part of your farm all the time.

Not only have IoT.nxt created a platform that makes your farm smart but it’s been done in such a way that it is affordable for farmers and able to be implemented with little to no disruption to operations. The way this technology operates is a far cry from the rip and replace mentality endorsed by OEM’s of yesterday. Rather, we protect previous investments into infrastructure and equipment, amplifying its benefit across your value chain.
For farmers, this solution offers deeper insights than ever before, the ability to farm smart and, most of all, full control of all the different workings on their farm without having to be everywhere at all times.

How does IoT.nxt do this?

  • 1. No rip and replace: Our RaptorTM technology has been designed in such a way that most devices, equipment and systems are able to retrofit into the software platform with little customisation. This makes it cheap and easy to deploy.
  • 2. Completely brand agnostic: When using our technology, it is possible to pull data from any brand or device out there. So yes, that Ford 5500 may have a place in the farm of the future.
  • 3. Easy to use dashboard: We take all of these different data sources and feed them into the same dashboard, making it easier to dig in to and understand, data. Gone are the days of having to switch through different apps and screens to try and understand what is happening on the farm, it’s all on one screen and alerting you when thresholds are reached – remotely.
  • 4. Bi-directional communication: You can truly control all connected devices with the click of a button, from anywhere in the world, allowing you to be off the farm when it comes to an auction, knowing that your front gate is closed and why it has opened it if does so.

Why now is the time to take action

  • 1. Lower overhead costs where possible: Manage asset allocation based on true usage rather than perceived need. Ensure that your assets are running optimally, pick up breakages before they happen and schedule in maintenance when it will have the least impact on operations.
  • 2. Increase run time: How many times have you needed to stop the operation because a piece of equipment in the value chain is out of commission? By understanding equipment health on a real-time basis, we get alerted when a piece of equipment needs to be serviced well before the time it breaks.
  • 3. Improve value-chain management: Create an end to end ecosystem that allows everything from logistics fleets to soil sensors to communicate and make changes to operations based on what is happening in the environment.
  • 4. Bring power back to the farmer: By having a smart farm, you’re able to make more informed decisions on how to run the kind of operation that ensures future relevance and viability, secure in the knowledge that you have the power to endorse best practice and if need be, data to back you up when faced with insurance companies or banks.

Control your farm, have true insight into every grain of sand and open the door to new opportunities – ones that seemed unattainable before.

It’s still your farm, only smarter.

Your cattle can now ‘talk’ to you

Knowing where livestock is every moment of the day is now possible, thanks to the Internet of Things (IoT) technology. Farmers can view the movement of livestock throughout the day and night and no longer have to rely on manual, labour-intensive, and inaccurate updates.

“Keeping control of large herds is a challenging task. In South Africa especially, livestock theft is a serious problem affecting large commercial farmers as well as smaller-scale farming operations. UNISA estimates the value of livestock stolen during 2019/2020 to be around R1 179 458 600. On average there are about 182 cattle, 282 sheep and 138 goats being stolen every day in South Africa. Beyond controlling theft, technology can be deployed to keep track of animals for delivery to market,” says De Villiers Wolhuter, Business Development Manager at IoT.nxt.

IoT.nxt, in association with partner and parent company Vodacom, has rolled out a livestock tracking and monitoring IoT application at a farm north of Pretoria – implemented specifically to address livestock theft – that delivered results within weeks of introducing the solution.

“Cattle have been fitted with solar panel powered tags that send data to a central point which can be viewed using a range of devices, cell phones included. The farmer has a full view of each animal fitted with a tag on a single view dashboard that updates information every two hours, day and night,” Wolhuter says.

Farmer August Rocher says he started searching for technology solutions to track livestock and reduce stock theft in the early hours of the morning after a particularly exhausting night protecting his herd against thieves. “I found IoT.nxt and Vodacom after an exhaustive search which started in Australia and ended in The Netherlands. Finding a solutions provider that is based in South Africa was excellent news and I started discussions about my challenges and what can be done the next day.”

“The IoT.nxt and Vodacom teams had a great understanding of how to address what I needed, and their impressive, combined technology proved to be the answer. Since implementation, I now have a full view of where the herds are and can also view individual animals that are not where they are supposed to be. It allows for a better response time to avert theft. And a significant plus is the fact that I can view the data on a cell phone,” he adds.

“The fast roll-out was remarkable. I expected a long process. The biggest challenge was setting up the tower and finding the best location for it. Once that was done the rest – tagging the cattle and setting up the dashboard – was finalised quickly. In the next phase, we will introduce a security solution to monitor herds at night, monitor water levels in tanks, troughs and dams, and track tractors and other equipment. We are aiming for a full smart farm in the months ahead. This will secure the future viability of my farm,” he says.

The livestock tracking and monitoring solution offers:

  • Livestock GPS location
  • Livestock movement
  • Early detection warning (erratic or abnormal movement)
  • Unique ID per animal
  • A user interface that displays the above data points on two views (mobile app and web portal).
  • Alarms and notifications for predefined out-of-threshold conditions
  • Livestock leaving predefined geofence area.
  • Multiple user access to tracking device information that is sent out every 2 hours (ear tag), 1 hour (collar)
  • Grazing patterns and behaviour
    • Cloud storage of data
    • Historical data reporting

IoT.nxt will join Vodacom to exhibit technology solutions for agriculture at the 2022 Nampo Harvest Day event which will take place in Bothaville from 16 to 20 May.

View a video of the solution here: Livestock tracking using IoT solutions.