DeLaval taps Company-X for global farm robotics and management systems training

DeLaval taps Company-X for global farm robotics and management systems training

Project management tool TeamWork and Google's WaveNet synthetic voice technology feature in global rollout

A dairy farmer trains on DelPro FarmManager.

A dairy farmer trains on DelPro FarmManager.

Credit: Company-X

Hamilton-based Company-X has delivered an e-learning system to teach the dairy farmer customers and staff of global farm technology company DeLaval how to use robotic milking and farm management systems.

An existing track record with DeLaval NZ, and a well-placed Kiwi at the company's global HQ, led the Sweden-based company to commission the build from Company-X.

“They already knew the company well,” DeLaval International training manager Lynda McDonald said. “I thought it would be less of a learning curve to work with Company-X rather than a new company.”

The solution had to be relevant to every farm model from small European producers to large corporate operations in China.

Company-X project manager Dilan Prasad and senior software developer Wonkee Kim had input from DeLaval staff in Asia Pacific, Europe, North America and Latin America. 

The diversity and geographical spread of stakeholders added to the project’s complexity.

“It’s very much about providing value through knowledge to dairy farmers and staff,” McDonald said.

“We are moving from manual milking systems to farms now managing their herds by data. We need to make sure that we transfer knowledge and give them the best possibility to optimise their systems from the time they purchase them."

Company-X delivered the e-learning programme in small iterations, allowing DeLaval subject matter experts to provide frequent feedback during the build.

The final system Company-X built offers 64 e-learning modules that take about four hours to complete. The content is delivered through nine separate courses including milking, feeding, health, reproduction, performance and body condition scoring. 

Modules are animated and narrated by an automated voice. Users can turn text prompts on or off. 

Teaching resources are offered for download for future use as the user progresses. Users can choose to use either the imperial or metric measurement system.

Company-X used project management tool TeamWork to keep the global stakeholders fully informed and engaged, to collaborate and to define and deliver a multi-stage review process. 

Reviewers and approvers were chosen for each region and a new role called DeLaval Voice ensured content was consistent with DeLaval style. 

One requirement was to be able to change both the text and voice within the e-learning when it was translated into other languages.

Company-X used Google WaveNet technology with speech synthesis markup language (SSML) tags to simulate the appropriate English accent, with a variety of pitch and tone to get the right mix for each region, with a combination of male and female voices. 

It also built an SSML editor tool to automate this task and to make any changes and to generate voice over files with minimum time.

The next step is to translate the material from English into 15 other languages.

Company-X, which now has a team of 60, was founded in 2012 by software specialists David Hallett and Jeremy Hughes. It pushed into the interactive learning and training space last year when it bought augmented VR specialist Pepper Creative.

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