The Agricultural Industry Electronics Foundation is an international industry group that was formed specifically to support the application of international electronics standards to agricultural equipment.
The ISOBUS standard, ISO 11783, is initially the most critical to the AEF, however the standard ISO 25119 “Safety of Electronic Controls” is also being addressed.
The actual development and maintenance of specific ISO standards will still be the responsibility of the ISO Working Groups.
Initial meetings promoting such an organization occurred in February 2007.
A workable proposal was negotiated, largely through the efforts of VDMA and AEM and their respective councils, and the idea was presented to industry companies in the spring and summer of 2008.
The Foundation was officially formed in October of 2008 during a meeting of industry representatives in Frankfurt, Germany.
Users adopting ISOBUS in Europe and North America were experiencing difficulties of compatibility between devices and problems getting good service response to those difficulties.
Often these problems resulted from evolution of the ISOBUS standard, particularly when new features were added to new devices, that were not supported by older devices. The industry recognized that the end user had difficulty identifying these limitations.
The industry recognized it had to do a better job of explaining the functionality of ISOBUS devices, and their limitations, to the end user.
The industry also recognized it had to do a better job of providing intercompany service support for the ISOBUS devices.
The industry also recognized it needed to be more proactive in the development of ISOBUS certification testing and the expansion to more test facilities.
AEF has identified six projects that it feels important to address quickly.
Development of an objective standardized conformance and certification test tool that can be used world wide by manufacturers during product development and test labs during final certification testing.
Identifying areas of functional safety of the ISOBUS standards that need to be addressed and act as a consultative resource for the ISO Working Groups responsible for the two standards 11783 and 25119.
Clearly identifying the functional aspects of ISOBUS devices as they conform to different functional levels of the standard and to devices manufactured under prior revisions of the standard. This to be done so that customers will clearly understand how two ISOBUS devices will function with each other.
Addressing the issue of diagnostics and service through development of standardized diagnostic service tools and training for dealers and technicians.
Opening a dialog between equipment and implement manufacturers on the subject of “sequence controlling” during which the tractor and the implement must work together to perform recurring sequential tasks, relieving workload from the operator.
Addressing the problem of promoting the advantages of ISOBUS and of communicating ISOBUS functionality to the end user in an understandable, clear and consistent manner.
AEF is an International organization formed by an International group of agricultural equipment manufacturers, suppliers and associations.
AEF runs an office in Güterloh, Germany, where all administrative services and contacts to all member companies are managed.
Three associations, AEM in Milwaukee, WI, USA, VDMA in Frankfurt, Germany and FederUnacoma in Bologna, Italy support the AEF by personnel recources.
There is interest by an agricultural industry organization in Brazil, Forca Tarefa ISOBUS (FTI), to affiliate with AEF.
The Steering Committee for AEF meets several times per year and is not limited to particular locations. Typically meetings are hosted by one of the AEF members.
Project Teams meet in Europe, North America and by telephone conferences..
AEF is currently financed through annual assessments of its members and through resources committed to the AEF by its Association members (AEM ,VDMA and FederUnacoma).
Additionally, much of the actual work of AEF is conducted by personnel that the individual company members assign to the project teams. These costs are carried by the individual member companies.
NAIITF is an acronym for North American ISOBUS Implementation Task Force, a Task Force formed by North American Manufacturers under the umbrella of the AEM (Association of Equipment Manufacturers) in 2002. IGI (Implementation Group ISOBUS) is the European counterpart, supported by VDMA (Verband Deutscher Maschinen- und Anlagenbau).
The purpose of both NAIITF and IGI was to support ISOBUS through promotion, education and organization of industry meetings and plugfests.
The formation of AEF and its Project Teams will now provide the support that NAIITF and the Implementation Group ISOBUS (IGI) have historically provided.
NAIITF and IGI will therefore dissolve and be incorporated into the AEF Project Teams.
Yes, today, the AEF is concentrated on supporting and implementing two ISO electronics standards, ISO 11783 ISOBUS and ISO 25119 “Safety of Electronic Controls”.
On the other hand, AEF was conceived as a means of supporting any agricultural electronics standard in the future, so it is open to incorporating support for additional technologies and concerns as they become international standards.
An example of an additional support role could be in supporting a new international standard for wireless communications as it relates to agricultural uses. A standard now in conceptual stage by ISO PM23/SC19 WG5.
AEF project Teams have been formed with personnel assigned by individual AEF member companies.
These Teams tackle the actual work of the Foundation, including writing specifications for support tools, organizing training sessions for technicians, providing assistance to new industry users of the technology, organizing plugfests, providing resources to promote and educate through presentations at meetings.
There is a great effort by AEF to involve personnel from the companies’ many departments including Marketing, Service, and Management, as well as Engineering.
The actual development and maintenance of ISO standards, like ISO 11783 ISOBUS, will remain coordinated by the ISO and its Working Groups. Standards development is not the role of the AEF.
The AEF role is as a support to the ISO standards, once they are published.
On the other hand, many of the AEF members also are active in the ISO Standards development committees, so AEF support experiences will naturally be considered by the ISO standards developers.
One of the current Project Teams is right now working to provide feedback to the two ISO Working Groups for ISO 11783 and ISO 25119 to bring the two standards into full compatibility.
AEF also has a role in monitoring the activities of additional ISO Working Groups to ensure compatibility between standards as they are developed and maintained. An example would be to try and maintain consistency of definitions and data transfer formats between CAN and Wireless devices, standards which are now controlled by two different ISO Working Groups.