In these strange COVID-19 times a Case IH product specialist has been holding training sessions for dealers via a tractor seat on his farm between Gunnedah and Mullaley in north west NSW.
Six months ago dealer representatives would have travelled to a central location for face-to-face sessions with Case IH staff but that's not possible under coronavirus rules.
The company's novel solution to the problem has also opened up training to more dealership staff throughout the network.
"We're obviously committed to adhering to the government guidelines around COVID-19 and the health and safety of our staff and dealership representatives is paramount, so the way we've previously conducted machinery training for dealers was out of the question at this time," general manager of Case IH Australia and New Zealand Pete McCann said.
The answer was to move the training sessions to a virtual classroom where for the past few weeks Case IH dealer representatives from across Australia and NZ have been undergoing important tractor product training from their homes and offices with Case IH high horsepower product specialist Jason Wood.
It's a new experience for Mr Wood, looking at training participants - more than 200 over three weeks of sessions via a laptop screen in a tractor - but he says the feedback from those involved had been extremely positive.
Numerous cameras were mounted in the cab to help Mr Wood show dealers all the features via his laptop, and illustrating the increasing connectivity abilities of the Case IH tractor fleet.
Sessions were limited to 20 people to maximise interaction by those involved with participants encouraged to ask questions throughout the course of the session.
"There's cost savings when participants don't have to travel and conducting our training in this way actually allows us to get to a wider audience because dealerships can involve more of their staff when it's in an online format," Mr Wood said.
Other machinery companies have also been switching to the web to maintain contact with dealers and customers.
In a first for Massey Ferguson last week the company unveiled its new 8S Series tractors via a global digital launch.
Massey Ferguson is part of the AGCO stable whose marketing communications manager in Australia Mario Capetola said coronavirus meant the web had become the main communications channel with dealers and customers.
"We are having digital meetings with dealers including product training sessions. In fact most of what we're doing in this space is in a digital format and may be the case for a while now," Mr Capetola said.
John Deere is using the pandemic to further refine its widespread use of virtual technical, sales and parts training for dealers.
Deere's regional training manager for Australia and NZ Royce Bell said the virtual delivery methods used various technologies from live streams direct from the US to using a green screen locally to provide online training content.
He said further innovation would be trialled in the next few months to enable delivery of technical and sales training on new and existing products using a combination of virtual and on-the-ground interactions leveraging video, streaming and interactive web-based delivery.
Plans were in place to enable video capture of machines, both in static and infield operation, to show capabilities and performance.
This information would be shared with dealer personnel so they could then share with their customers directly in person, if required, he said.
JCB CEA which distributes JCB brand farm and construction equipment in Australia was fortunate to hold a major training event in February for its national sale force before the COVID-19 disruptions.
The company's marketing manager Tara Stewart said since the coronavirus restrictions the business had moved to more "agile" forms of training including online sessions both with staff and customers.
"We hold regular product walk arounds with staff and customers able to ask questions of key staff throughout the session. Our team have also recorded a series of handover clips for use where they cant be onsite to do it in person," she said.
"It's certainly been challenging but we've also embraced the opportunity to look at doing things differently within our business.
"Many of the changes we hope to continue post COVID as they offer real opportunities for our team to interact with people all over the country without leaving the state.
It's been a good lesson in time management and the importance of interpersonal connections for all of us."
European farm machinery manufacturer, Amazone, has developed a virtual tour of its precision seeding, spreading, spraying and cultivation technology.
CLAAS harvest centre product specialist for Amazone and Precision Joshua Patrick said the tour allowed visitors to "wander through" the exhibition hall and museum at the company's headquarters in Hasbergen-Gaste, Germany.
"This 360-degree virtual tour is an exciting opportunity for everyone to explore the range of Amazone precision technology, just as they would at an exhibition or showroom.
"Visitors can wander through the hall and access product information, technical data or demonstration videos about each machine simply by clicking on the 'hot spots'," he said.
The story School's in: Machinery companies conduct virtual training sessions first appeared on Farm Online.