A 150-year-old agricultural sciences company based in Philadelphia that serves American farmers by producing both the machinery and chemicals used in the food industry needed help. Crop protection is one of their largest operations. Over the years, they established an impressive network of chemical production machines along with the retailer network to support it.
One key component of their crop protection efforts was their custom chemical mixing machine. Farmers communicated their needs based on things like the crop were growing, its location, and other factors. The sales rep would deliver that information to the machine operators to produce a tailored chemical mix to suit the farmer’s needs.
The problem? Like an insanely expensive game of “telephone,” the message would sometimes get lost as it traveled from the farmer to the sales rep and on to the machine operator. The process was prone to human error, and that resulted in waste and significant costs.
The company’s chemical mixing machines were already internet-enabled, and with the right software, they could connect farmers’ orders directly to the system—cutting out the sales reps as middlemen to greatly reduce errors.
They envisioned a suite of apps that empowered farmers to order what they wanted directly from retailers, ensuring quick, efficient, and reliable processes. All they needed was an outsourced tech team that would take the time to understand their business and deliver a seamless, user-friendly system.
The Technology Leader at, the company reached out to many outsourcing companies in his search for a vendor, but one stood out. Thanks to their consultative approach and technical competence, he felt confident in his decision to hire Net Solutions to build the platform.
The Technology Leader at the company worked with the Business Analyst team at Net Solutions to explain the workflows in the existing ordering process, which he had mapped out in detail. This helped Net Solutions to design a system to short circuit error-prone manual processes and tighten communication lines.
Using general principles of SCADA (Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition) systems, Net Solutions designed an architecture based on the Ignition Vision module. The module would power a suite of apps designed for retailers and farmers, and those apps would communicate with the mixing machines.
NetSolutions designed the interface in Invision and hosted it on Invision Cloud, allowing event hooks to directly integrate with the back end. This greatly simplified the web app interface design, bypassing sales agents and enabling an entirely digital process with the following components.
A Farmer’s Ordering App: Using the mobile app, any farmer could provide details to help determine an appropriate chemical mix, such as the type of crop they wanted to protect, the area where the crop was planted, and more. They would then approve the order directly from the app.
A Retailer Web App: The retailer app received all orders, and users could review the pipeline as well. Since the payment took place outside the system, the platform allowed the retailer to process the order, organize payment from the buyer, and confirm that the ingredients were available before setting the production in motion.
Order fulfillment: The platform passed the order directly to the machine, which used the appropriate parameters and details to create a custom mix. It also provided an ETA, letting the buyer know when the product would be ready for pickup.
Comprehensive Analytics: The back-end system connected with a MySQL database, where all order details were stored. With access to this data, managers at the company could perform their own analytics to spot relevant data and emerging patterns—helping them optimize their operations.
Net Solutions and the team were able to adapt and learn new skills quickly and efficiently. They definitely brought the “A” team to the project in terms of adding significant value, from designing the wireframes and storyboard to the actual mechanics within Ignition, which was the hard part—the actual work!
When it came time to launch, everything went smoothly, just as Net Solutions had anticipated. Both farmers and internal staff at the company praised the system for its efficiency, ease of use, and accuracy. In the end, Net Solutions helped the industry leader deliver on its mission to provide market-driven technologies that serve the agricultural industry.
It has been an extreme pleasure working with everyone on the Net Solutions Team, as I feel I have lucked out on getting great individuals who have added significant value to our project and can challenge me along the way. They came up with just the right mechanics to make this a success in the marketplace.
Net Solutions delivered an ordering platform that greatly reduced errors and increased efficiency for custom chemical pest-control mixes.