During a baling operation, the operator of the baler should decide when and where to drop the bales in the field to facilitate later retrieval of the bales for transport out of the field. Manually determining the time and place to drop a bale creates extra workload on the operator and may not result in the optimum drop location for the subsequent front loader and transport unit. Therefore, there is a need for a tool that can support operators during this decision process. The key objective of this study is to find the optimal traversal sequence of fieldwork tracks to be followed by the baler and bale retriever to minimize the non-working driving distance in the field. Two optimization processes are considered for this problem. Firstly, finding the optimal sequence of fieldwork tracks considering the constraints of the problem such as the capacity of the baler and the straw yield map of the field. Secondly, finding the optimal location and number of bales to drop in the field. A simulation model is developed to calculate all the non-productive traversal distances by baler and bale retrieval in the field. In a case study, the collected positional and temporal data from the baling process related to a sample field were considered. The output of the simulation model was compared with the conventional method applied by the operators. The results show that application of the proposed method can increase efficiency by 12.9% in comparison with the conventional method with edited data where the random movements (due to re-baling, turns in the middle of the swath, reversing, etc.) were removed from the data set.
- optimization; straw collection; baling system; route planning; logistics; precision agriculture; decision support; efficiency