Smart solutions in demand

Cucumber team (from left) General Manager Aiden Lett, Product Engagement Manager Jo Burns, Digital Experience Analyst Carol Machaj and Business Manager Ian Gray.

Cucumber team (from left) General Manager Aiden Lett, Product Engagement Manager Jo Burns, Digital Experience Analyst Carol Machaj and Business Manager Ian Gray.

PlantTech shareholder Cucumber has grown steadily since the business started in 2004. Along the way it has built a reputation for working very closely with organisations to improve their efficiencies and connect with customers by building smart human-centred digital solutions.

The company’s evolution has seen it develop an impressive client list among New Zealand’s primary sector, where greater connectivity and access to mobile devices and Internet of Things (IoT) sensors are enabling businesses to transform their business by capturing quality data and make more informed decisions in the field.

Business manager Ian Gray says smart user focused agritech gives horticultural teams the ability to view information within their respective supply chain quicker and react more promptly to change.

“More sophisticated technology means users can manage and monitor variabilities at a much more granular and precise level now.

“What’s more, it allows businesses to visualise trends and model potential opportunities for improvement using AI-based tools that are connected to the data.”

Mr Apple in Hawke’s Bay and Rotorua’s Crown Research Institute, Scion, have previously engaged Cucumber to build digital solutions for their respective organisations, with Plant & Food Research (PFR) the latest client to work with Cucumber on an integrated data management platform.

PFR’s brief was for Cucumber to establish an information system that staff can use to better capture and retrieve breeding and research data related to the development of new cultivars, including kiwifruit.

Existing breeding data management systems, which were a mix of commercial and in-house solutions, did not fully meet PFR’s requirements.

“PFR had a clear idea of what they needed but wanted us to provide sound technical advice and assistance in designing the appropriate architecture for the solution,” says Ian.

Taking a people-centred approach, Cucumber ran collaborative workshops around solution architecture, technical design and user experience.

 The key focus was to determine the architecture and technology stack to meet the key requirements of robust infield data collection, storage and accessibility for reporting and analysis.

 The development programme took an “agile” collaborative approach , using a modern “services architecture” and domain-driven design to simplify data integration and address current challenges.

“This was a large agile project, consisting of a blended agile team from both organisations that successfully operated on a two-week sprint cycle.”

 Flexible and user-friendly

The new platform allows the flexibility to capture data from multiple sources, whilst allowing users to generate reports and queries simultaneously using their preferred toolsets.

Modern User Interfaces have been developed for efficient data capture in the field (offline and online) and in the laboratory.

Following its launch in August, PFR can now retire its older applications and make improvements to the new platform including adding functions to further enhance capability based on ongoing team and customer feedback.

In the development process, Cucumber used a number of readily available open source applications, coupled with custom developed components.

“The PFR team can now source more accurate data from the field, which is synchronised and stored more simply, saving time and increasing accuracy for decision-making,” Ian says.

“Importantly, data is now centralised which streamlines analysis and insight that will ultimately drive future benefits.”

For more information about the project involving Plant and Food Research, watch this video.