What is an NIR network?
NIR grain networking is a well-established concept. The goal of a network is to provide a self-consistent population of instruments such that all instruments produce the same results on the same samples. The farmer/producer gets paid based on the grain quality/grade and the amount of grain delivered. It is critical that results are accurate and comparable regardless of location of the grain receival site. The network provides the mechanism to monitor performance across the population, remote simultaneous update of calibrations, automated data backup, and other instrument administration functions.
NIR grain networks are often a cooperation amongst companies within the grain industry. The aims are to reduce costs by sharing the administrative burden, improve system performance, and to reduce disagreements within the industry. A committee based on selected members of the network controls how it operates.
The network administrator has NIR expertise and is responsible for calibration updates and bias adjustments based on decisions from the committee. By using a certified reference lab and distribution of common samples, the accuracy and consistency of results is monitored, maintained, and documented. A close collaboration with the instrument supplier provides technical support and service.
- Prior to harvest, preventive maintenance and standardization are performed. This includes distribution of a common set of samples. The samples are used to align the members' instruments to ensure consistent results across the population.
- During the harvest, calibration performance is continuously monitored to obtain accurate results. Adjustments or updates are performed if necessary.
- A control sample is measured on a regular basis on each instrument. The goal of the sample is to ensure each instrument is stable over time.
- Annual calibration updates are performed to incorporate sample variation and improve accuracy.
- Network meetings and regular communication makes the workflow and results transparent and ensure the network objectives are met.
NetPlus - a Reporting and Networking Platform
NetPlus is a cloud solution with true networking capabilities. It allows 24/7 access to results and instrument configuration.
- NetPlus Reports allows each member to view analysis results from his or her instrument by logging into a web site. Reports are available in tables and charts.
- NetPlus Remote allows the administrator to perform instrument standardization, monitor performance, and update calibrations. Administration using NetPlus Remote provides protected access to instrument setup ensuring the same calibrations and proper settings are used across the instrument population.
Benefits of a network
- Results are trustworthy regardless of location as the workflow and results are transparent and controlled by the committee. Using the NetPlus Remote software for configuration makes results indisputable as product settings and calibrations are locked on the instruments. This accomplishes the network aim to reduce disagreements within the industry.
- Results are accurate as calibrations are updated and adjusted to properly predict grain of different varieties and geographical origin. This is achieved using a certified and common reference lab. By doing this centrally, costs and efforts are reduced for all members.
- Members can focus on their daily work during the hectic harvest season and leave the NIR expertise and administrative tasks to the network administrator and committee.
- Backup of instrument data is automatically archived by synchronizing to the NetPlus server. If a problem were to occur with any networked instrument, data can be easily retrieved.
- Service technicians can easily identify and provide guidance if technical problems arise. Instant support is important, particularly when large distances exist between the various locations participating in the network.