Intertech senior consultants, along with the Intertech Dev Center, helped Big Gain create a modern day decision making tool for cattle feeding. The solution included a web application and mobile app for bunk management, ration management, and accounting. Originally, Big Gain used a series of complicated spreadsheets to accomplish the task. The new application, known as BeefBooks™, is faster and allows feedlots to get answers in real time. The application includes support for autonomous data entry via in-truck scales that weigh feed mixture and dispersal in real time.
Working with Intertech has been a great experience. Converting a manual process of entering data into spreadsheets to a new online system gives us access to real-time results. We have modernized our business like no one else in the market. Eliminating hundreds of hours in manual work, while giving our customers a tool to quickly manage their business and improve profits is a great benefit we can now offer.
Jay Watje – Beef Department Head, Big Gain
Big Gain approached Intertech with the goal of revamping their existing procedures for projecting, feeding, tracking, and billing for a modern beef cattle feeding enterprise. One employee at the company primarily maintained and used a series of spreadsheets on a shared drive to keep records and bill customers. These same spreadsheets could also balance and calculate rations for each animal to predict growth and when the animal would be ready for market. Feedlots would collect data manually, email it to Big Gain, and wait to receive the results from the spreadsheet calculations. In busy periods or times when the key employee was on vacation, it could take weeks for customers to receive their results.
The challenge was to create a user-friendly web application that end customers could use to get the same results, eliminating the need for back and forth emails and a dedicated employee to process the reports. Intertech’s developers investigated how the original spreadsheets predicted future market conditions and costs, and how those variables impacted feed mixes and amounts for each animal. The ultimate goal was a single tool that could integrate multiple data sources and provide useful analysis that could drive the day-to-day operations of a feedlot.
Big Gain took advantage of the Intertech Dev Center, an agile team of developers who work from Intertech’s Eagan, Minnesota offices to develop custom solutions under the leadership of senior Intertech consultants. At any time, anywhere from four to seven developers were working on this project, as they rotated from other assignments. Our developers proposed a solution with a web application, mobile app, and Bluetooth scale head integration for automatic measurement and data upload.
The application, called BeefBooks™, includes two core functionalities: feed predictions and live group tracking. For a cattle feeder looking to buy cattle, the application can make predictions about how quickly the cattle will grow and the expected profitability of purchasing the cattle. Once the feeder purchases the cattle, the application converts the prediction model into a live group. The application takes into account the price of ration ingredients and recommends a feeding regimen for the cattle. As the feedlot enters information about the mixture, amount, and timing of feeding, the application updates its projections and gives a new profit analysis with full details of group performance.
Intertech developers first built this integrated tool for the web using a full Microsoft Azure stack with an Angular front end. It was clear early on, however, that for the application to be truly useful it would need an in-field data collection component. Our developers recommended a mobile app that feedlot owners could use to enter data, even offline. The mobile app then syncs when reconnected to the internet and updates across the web and any other mobile devices.
BeefBooks™ also includes an integration for Bluetooth scales in the feed trucks to measure ration loading and delivery. This information then transmits back to the mobile app where the user can verify and approve the data entry. As new data enters the system, the application updates its prediction models in real time, allowing feedlot owners to make changes immediately when challenges or opportunities arise.
Big Gain’s process for animal feed management increased dramatically in productivity. Feedlot owners originally collected data using pen and paper. Now, they can use automated Bluetooth connections. They also don’t have to wait for emailed results, and they can get answers in real time. It’s easy for users to share those results, as well, including exporting reports for third parties to improve collaboration. The benefits in customer satisfaction alone make this project worth the cost of development.
However, Big Gain also now saves on the cost of having an employee run the calculations and maintain the spreadsheets. Intertech was able to develop this application at a comparatively low price thanks to the Intertech Dev Center, where Intertech developers work on software development projects in between major consulting assignments.
BeefBooks™ is currently in testing with a full release planned for late 2018. Big Gain is already advertising BeefBooks™ at industry events as the new standard for feedlot management software.
From the day it was founded in 1991 by local entrepreneur Tom Salonek, Intertech has been a company with an important difference: unwavering commitment to customers, employees and the broader community through excellent work, smart workplace and financial management, and creative philanthropic involvement.