Suiker Unie, part of Royal Cosun, develops, produces and markets sugar and sugar specialities. It processes more than six million tonnes of sugar beet into granulated sugar every year. Its factories in the Netherlands and Germany are among the most modern in the world. Most of the sugar is sold to the food industry as an ingredient for end products, but also as consumer products under the Van Gilse brand name. From its home market in the Netherlands, Suiker Unie is expanding its sales operations primarily in northwest Europe.
Suiker Unie pursues the highest standards of quality and sustainability throughout the supply chain: from the cultivation of the sugar beet to the delivery of the sugar and other products to customers at home and abroad. They want to optimise the yield for itself and its growers while working towards sustainable agriculture at the same time.
It all started with asking the right questions through a User Experience Design Session. A group of people, consisting of business specialists, technical developers, and end-users came together in the Design Thinking Center to collaborate on formulating and answering these questions under the supervision of UX specialised facilitators. What needed to be done is enabling sugar beet farmers to monitor the conditions for their beets closely in order to maximise the production of sugar. Because better beets mean more sugar. But how?
Through a combination of ideation (thinking of different solutions), prototyping (sketching), and immediate validation with the end-users we sketched different scenarios.
The conclusions, sketches and ideas of just one morning were transformed into a mobile application that allows the inspectors to capture their field observations and forward them to an in-memory platform. Suiker Unie can then read this data and have an overview of each plot regarding all relevant agricultural parameters, which are projected on a geographic map.
A fruitful collaboration between the Suiker Unie and Nextview that thus provides a more targeted agricultural advice specifically tailored to the individual breeder. This way insights from big data and the use of technology are transforming sugar beet farming.
For this innovative project, we have been acknowledged in 2017 with an SAP HANA Innovation Award.
The end users were pleased to see and use the app. Overall they rewarded its performance with a satisfaction score of 8.5. They are very willing to expand the functionality and scope of the application in the future. Suiker Unie is looking forward to extending the app with Internet of Things capabilities, the collection of more data, and predictive models about when to harvest the crops. All these features will again be designed, and we will probably start sketching during the process, but that’s just in our nature.