Each year after the conclusion of the seed treatment season, the whole team here at KSi sits down for a season in review discussion to highlight what went right and areas that need improvement. There’s no doubt in my mind that 2018 shaped up to be the most intense seed treatment season ever.
We thought the seed treatment season went fairly rapidly in 2017, but it was even more so this year. Facilities usually kick-off their season in mid-April, but this year we had cold temperatures hang around much longer. Then, when it did warm up, it went straight to being hot and dry. The majority of seed treating in North America was done in a four-week window. We started later and ended earlier. Many facilities ran from mid-April to mid-May and then were done — that’s really rare.
Unlike previous years, companies didn’t have a ramping up time where they were able to calibrate their equipment and make any necessary tweaks to it. When the time came to begin treating seed, our call volume was high and there was a lot of urgency.
Regarding call volume, last year’s peak week was exceeded this year six weeks in a row. With 3,000 more calls this year than last, our 2018 call volume mounted to 8,300 calls of which only 115 required a service dispatch.
Why were there so many more calls?
From January to March, we upgraded more systems this year than any year prior. From my perspective, even though we did have 3,000 more calls, the type of calls were very different in nature. They weren’t long, drawn out calls over six hours. They were much less technical. I believe that because our phone support has gotten so quick and responsive, more people are using it just to request verification, and that’s OK. There’s comfort in knowing our team can look on the backend and confirm that everything looks good.
Other observations included an increased need for filtering seed, the impact of company buyouts or mergers, and the importance of being able to immediately support customers.
Sometimes, you might not know there’s a problem until you have a solution for it, and that is what we are seeing with our seed filtration system. It removes split seed and dirty seed. The more people have it, the more they want it. As such, we’ve increased our focus on seed filtration and applying dry product.
Additionally, the mergers and acquisitions from equipment providers had a trickle effect as we were called in to help bring consistency to operational protocols. For two companies, we helped provide equipment training, and shared what’s important when treating seed and best practices.
In February and March, we spent more time in front of customers and operators than before, much of which has to do with the changing of names on storefronts.
Again, this year our commitment to providing good support and service was put to the test. Modern technology allows us to provide support over the phone and by internet. Our average call time this year was 11 minutes and 10 seconds. By taking this approach, we are able to minimize customer downtime, and we will continue working to improve and build on that service and support.
Everyone we’ve talked to has said this year felt much better than last year.
Remember: Even though the season is done, there’s still work to be done. It’s time to properly clean your equipment and do preventative maintenance. If you haven’t already, you too should do a year in review so that when next season comes around you’ll remember what areas need improvement.