Natural Resources

Rugged Computing Drives Value In Precision Livestock Farming


Less than 3% Failure Rate

Last Up to 5 Years

Excellent Service


Precision livestock farming (PLF) or “smart farming” involves a set of practices that rely on advanced digital technologies to deliver better results and increase consumer confidence in the supply chain from farm to table. Today, automated real-time animal monitoring to improve welfare, environmental impact, and production are bringing about the “Fourth Industrial Revolution” in farming and agriculture.



The physical challenges of working in rugged barn conditions combined with the need to have easy digital connectivity for the employees prompted FarrPro to scrutinize the effectiveness and quality of the devices they were using in the barns. In the past, barn workers suffered through many broken iPads with flimsy antennas that would not properly connect with “smart tags” on the ears of the pigs. These tags include near-field communications (NFC) and radio frequent identification (RFID) technology. They even had a brief experiment using digital watches to no avail. After much trial and error, FarrPro believed there must be a better way. Ultimately, they wanted to develop their own solution incorporating a military-grade rugged tablet that would include all the necessary features, but still be able to withstand harsh conditions. Near this time, FarrPro connected with Affinity Enterprises. Affinity, an authorized business partner and platinum reseller of Getac products, specializes in providing complete rugged computing solutions to an array of organizations that require rugged computing devices to get critical work done in extreme environments.

Amy Palka, CEO of Affinity, said “FarrPro was specifically looking to partner with a company that could offer the pork industry a tailored solution to align perfectly with its needs,” she further added that, “they wanted to do a proof-of-concept pilot program with a rugged tablet designed and configured exactly for use in the barn workflow.”


With the expert guidance and support of Affinity Enterprises, FarrPro chose to co-brand and partner with Getac to implement its custom solution for the pork industry. FarrPro chose the Getac ZX70 tablet for their pilot program. The Getac ZX70 is a fully rugged Android™ tablet with an ergonomic design making it easy for barn workers to hold in just one hand. This tablet would be the hardware foundation upon which a full pork industry solution would be built for FarrPro customers.

The ZX70 provides the best battery run time performance in its class for mission-critical field operations. It has a 7” display that is sunlight readable and glove-enabled for the touchscreen interface. To make it even easier for barn workers, the ZX70 fully rugged tablet comes equipped with a waterproof/non-permeable holster that is easily cleaned and disinfected multiple times per day. The holster with tablet can be worn around the waist or attached to a shoulder strap.

The pilot began in January 2021 for approximately a three-month period. The FarrPro Sentry custom Getac ZX70 tablet was configured exactly to the business requirements specified by FarrPro. It was considered a new product solution for monitoring the entire life cycle of pigs in several different barn types: farrowing, gestation, and nursery. With its durable NFC high frequency antennas, cameras, global positioning systems (GPS), and sensors the FarrPro Sentry custom Getac ZX70 was immediately placed in the hands of the farm workers as the “tablet that doesn’t break,” according to Amy Palka.



At the conclusion of the pilot, Amos Petersen of FarrPro said “The FarrPro Sentry custom Getac ZX70 tablet is the cornerstone of the digital revolution in the barn. There are no more broken tablets or issues with connectivity as there had previously been.” With the pilot being a success, FarrPro plans to fully partner with and co-brand the custom Getac ZX70 tablet as the FarrPro Sentry™ tablet.

The base Getac ZX70 rugged tablet provides significant value and the total cost of ownership (TCO) over the life of the tablet is low compared to consumer-grade products. Industry statistics show that there is a 30% failure rate with the iPad that was in previous use by FarrPro. The Getac tablet has a break/failure rate of less than 3%. It is also designed to last up to 5 years in extreme environments. The lifespan of a typical consumer tablet, however, may be measured in months, not years, when used in those same harsh conditions. Moreover, Getac provides a 3-year “bumper-to-bumper” warranty on all hardware. In the unlikely event something goes wrong, FarrPro and its customers will be able to get a new rugged device quickly from Getac.

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If you consider TCO, as described in studies by VDC research and others, and apply it to the demanding work requirements in a pig barn, using consumer tablets can cost up to 200% more than certified rugged tablets over a 5-year period.

Amy Palka, Affinity Enterprise

About FarrPro

FarrPro based in Iowa City, Iowa is making significant strides in changing the way the wold grows pork. FarrPro has concentrated its efforts on developing a PLF technology platform—the FarrPro Sentry System—that allows livestock farmers to produce more viable piglets, reduce piglet mortality rate, improve sustainability, and increase profits. The complete FarrPro Sentry System of smart tags, software, and hardware is designed to turn data—human, animal, and environmental—into powerful intelligence that can be used proactively.

Explore the solutions which are helping FarrPro

ZX70 Fully Rugged Tablet

The ZX70 7” fully rugged Android™ tablet is just the right size with a thin and light, ergonomic design that’s easy to hold in one hand, making it the ideal solution for improved mobile productivity. The ZX70 provides the best battery run time performance in its class for mission-critical field operations. Rugged to the core, the ZX70’s design is optimised for a wide variety of configurable features and no-compromise ruggedness.

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