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Plugfests in spring and fall

Testing Isobus compatibility

This year, the Agricultural Industry Electronics Foundation (AEF) had its annual North American 2022 Isobus plugfest during the Commodity Classic trade show in New Orleans. After the cancellations of the last few plugfests due to the pandemic, this was the first face to face AEF Plugfest since September 2019.

AEF Plugfest back in 2017 (Source: Agricultural Industry Electronics Foundation e.V.)

From March 9 to March 11, the plugfest provided an opportunity for agriculture equipment software engineers from all over the world to test the compatibility of their Isobus products. Isobus is a communication protocol meant to standardize the communication systems on agriculture equipment from different manufacturers. However, due to its complexity, the ISO 11783 standard has been interpreted by each manufacturer slightly differently, explained AEF. AEF plugfests began in 2001 to help engineers test products under development, and ensure that manufacturers of tractors, implements, and components were interpreting the standard in a compatible way, AEF continued explaining. The 2022 spring plugfest allowed engineers to connect their Isobus products together, checking to see if their products can communicate with each other.

"The plugfest is a bit like ECU speed dating," said Andrew Olliver, Vice Chairman, AEF. "You get a whole bunch of engineers in the room sitting at dozens of tables, and every half an hour, the buzzer goes and a new ISO partner from another company sits down to connect their Isobus products to see if they 'speak the same language.' It's a great opportunity for anybody developing an Isobus product to see if their product is compatible with the majority of Isobus products on the market."

AEF Isobus plugfest in spring 2022 (Source: Agricultural Industry Electronics Foundation e.V.)

The partnership between the AEF and the Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM) facilitated the opportunity for the plugfest to be held in conjunction with the progressive Commodity Classic agriculture trade show, said AEF. "The spirit of communication and collaboration that you see at a plugfest from competitors is really quite extraordinary," said Olliver. "It's not about sharing company secrets, but about agreeing on a common language, a common standard, a common software so that when our competitive pieces of equipment are plugged together in the field, they deliver what the customer truly wants."

"Most folks would be surprised to know that competing equipment manufacturers come together year-round to work towards brand compatibility, so that their farmer customers‘ operations can run more smoothly and efficiently," said Anita Sennett, AEF Secretary and AEM Senior Director of Agriculture.

The plugfest is a biannual event held in the United States and Europe to test the protocol defined in the ISO 11783 standard. AEF member companies typically attending plugfests include AGCO, Case IH, Claas, John Deere, New Holland, and Same Deutz-Fahr, among others. This year’s event attracted 77 attendees (35 participants, 42 visitors) from 31 companies and with 16 server devices.

The next plugfest is scheduled in Bologna, Italy from October 17 to 21, 2022. 
AEF membership is required for participant registration and applies to anyone who is directly or indirectly involved with testing activities. It costs 500€. Registration for General Assembly is free of charge.


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