The Palm Scribe

Introducing Digital Technology into Palm Oil Industry

Many palm oil plantations in Indonesia suffer from a far-from-optimal level of productivity. To overcome some aspects of the problems that have the potential to cause losses, digital applications can be used to help record data and enable real monitoring.

“Many oil palm plantation owners here do not optimize their land,” said Ferron Haryanto, an executive of a company that seeks solutions to these weaknesses

In his conversation with The Palm Scribe, PT eKomoditi Solutions Indonesia CEO Haryanto said that “ghost workers” and “ghost bunches” were among the many aspects that affect plantation productivity.

The term “ghost workers” here refers to the workers who are recorded as a present while they are actually not, at a specific time. “Ghost bunches” refers to the inequalities in the number of fruit production in the field and in the factory.

To solve this problem, PT eKomoditi Solutions created a digital program called Electronic Plantation Control System (ePCS) that allows users to monitor the condition of their plantations while providing users with an efficient data recording system.

Field data has been recorded in the QR Code

This digital program does not require an internet signal because it is equipped with a Global Positioning System (GPS) directly connected to the satellite.

The real picture of existing plantations is obtained by regularly taking images from the air using drones. Data collected is then stored in the data center at the company’s headquarters.

To facilitate monitoring, the plantation area is divided into several areas marked with different colors.

With special equipment, data can be recorded directly at the field using a QR code manually brought to the data collection center at the head office and thus, eliminates dependence on internet networks that are often non-existent or unstable in the remote places across the archipelago.

To avoid “ghost workers”, the system is also equipped with Iris Scanner, an eye scanner used to ensure the presence of workers every day. The workers will look into the Iris Scanner and it will directly send eye identification data to an Android-based cellphone.

“This technology enables plantation managers to look at the potential that has not yet been seen on their land and make quick decisions that will affect their companies,” Haryanto said.

Iris scanner device

This digital application can also increase traceability value in the palm oil industry. “We can trace the distribution of the oil palm fruit, from the plantations to the restaurants,” Haryono told The Palm Scribe.

He also added that with the use of this digital application “the plantations can last longer while less land is used” due to higher efficiency and productivity.

He explained further that the ePCS also supports sustainability in the palm oil industry,  especially the humanity side, because it also records various data on workers, such as where they work, what they do, the amount of remuneration and many others.

“Talking about sustainability for the people, are they safe? Do they work in a supportive environment? Are they getting paid? So by having this technology system, the workers will be safe in all aspects,” Haryono explained.

Just like any technology, the ePCS application does require costs, depending on the user’s information technology infrastructure.

“We make a prior assessment of our clients before offering prices. Do they own IT infrastructure and staffs? If they don’t, we can provide them with extra cost,” said Haryanto while explaining that the minimum price for ePCS applications is around Rp500 million.

According to him, the price is still low, compared to the nominal risk of loss in the field within one year.

Haryanto also considered palm oil as a huge industry with a lot of potential in Indonesia. “This industry is very challenging because every year there are many new things and open doors for technology,” he concluded.

This digital application has been offered since four years ago, but Haryanto refused to inform the number of applications sold up to now.

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