Our access to cheap computing power has allowed us to generate vast amounts of data. Thanks to an internet-connected mobile device in almost every pocket on the planet, we have been able to record, track and share information. But this is not where the value lies. Hidden this mountain of data are precious insights.
For the past few years, Huvepharma has brought the transformational power of big data to the animal health and production industry through Aviapp®, an online software platform for broiler producers which collects and shares user-generated data to help them monitor, compare, and improve flock health. It can also help users unlock operational efficiencies, better manage resources, and identify growth opportunities for their operations.
In this Feedinfo Industry Perspectives, we chat to Stefaan Bekaert, the company’s Global Project Manager for Aviapp® and Ben Dehaeck, Global Product Manager for Coccidiostats to find out what led the animal health company to develop the platform, how it ensures data accuracy and reliability, and why it believes offering the service for free to users is a good business strategy.
[Feedinfo] Mr Bekaert, let’s kick off with what led to the development of Aviapp®?
[Stefaan Bekaert] Aviapp® has been an important project for Huvepharma since it was first started in 2014. At the time, we identified the need for a standardised, well organised, central data collection tool which could help poultry producers manage their flock health more accurately and effectively. The platform was developed in collaboration with customers, focussing on three aspects:
- User-friendly and standardised data entry
- Instant and clear visualisation and analytical tools
- A centralised database allowing relevant business analysis
Since the introduction of Aviapp® in 2017, it was picked up well by our customers and we have since seen a considerable increase in the use of the platform over time. After the global roll out, we also identified some key differences between regions and made the necessary amendments to the platform to make it relevant and useful for all our customers, regardless of where they find themselves in the world.
Unique to this platform is that it is designed for users to operate independently of Huvepharma. This aspect is highly appreciated as companies can organise and manage their broiler health on their own, guaranteeing them autonomy, data ownership and continuity in their production processes. Over the past two years of the pandemic, this has proven to be a real benefit. Many global regions faced strong restrictions. Aviapp® highly facilitated continued monitoring of performance where follow-up of flocks became more difficult.
Today, thanks to our continued development of the platform since 2014, Aviapp® has become a complete service providing broiler producers with not only a tool to monitor flock health, but also a means to collect data on the use of feed additives, flock management, antimicrobial use, slaughterhouse data and performance.
[Feedinfo] We’ve touched on Aviapp® being user powered, but how exactly does the service work?
[Stefaan Bekaert] As mentioned above, Aviapp® is a great platform for users to monitor and record their own data and diagnose the status of their flocks in their operations. But a greater added benefit of the platform is the ability for users to anonymously share their data with the entire user pool, allowing them access to even more insights. This means that, after entering the necessary data, a producer can instantly compare results for their flock with pooled results covering various factors like region, age, period of the year, etc.
This platform is a web-based system, meaning that it does not require users to download or install software. All information is available online and can be accessed anywhere, anytime. A company simply needs to request an account on the platform, which will house all their data and can be organised and controlled independently of Huvepharma.
Additionally, if poultry production houses are located in areas with no or weak internet connections, data can be entered offline. This is critical to ensure that the tool can be used by everyone, everywhere, regardless of the infrastructure available in their area.
Another major advantage is that once data is entered, that information is instantly made available and shared with everyone in that user’s organisation. So even in the field, technicians can easily consult all the relevant information regarding a flock or even compare current performance with previous or historical flocks. This should go a long way in supporting informed, business-critical decisions on the spot.
[Feedinfo] So what are some of these insights broiler producers can expect to gain from using Aviapp®? How can it better their day-to-day operations?
[Stefaan Bekaert] From what we’ve seen, customers often start using the platform to follow up on broiler performance in relation to gut health and to monitor trends over time. When production is situated in different regions, they can compare and benchmark these areas against each other, as well as benchmarking their performance against their country’s average.
The goal of Aviapp® is to allow the user to gain insights into the performance of their broiler production. These insights will be individualised and differ between companies depending on the kind of data they entered.
[Ben Dehaeck] A real life example is the case of a broiler integrator that suddenly faced outbreaks of necrotic enteritis. As this disease is often associated with coccidiosis, their natural instinct was to question the efficacy of their coccidiosis vaccine. Aviapp® allowed them to objectively evaluate the coccidiosis pressure and conclude that the efficacy of the coccidiosis vaccine was not the problem. They approached us to help them solve the issue and after some additional analysis and field visits, we found that raw materials coming from the new harvest were the cause and advised them on the necessary steps to take.
This is a good example of an instance where health monitoring and centralising data helped a user solve a problem based on objective information. This allowed them to take the necessary remedial actions faster and to avoid unnecessary losses due to ill-informed decisions.
[Feedinfo] And how else has Huvepharma committed itself to helping users take full advantage of the Aviapp® platform?
[Stefaan Bekaert] In addition to helping users interpret the information provided by Aviapp® and advising them on possible solutions, Huvepharma can also help with integrating the platform into their operations. The implementation of digital technology in an organisation is not always easy. We can help users set up Aviapp® and train them. Based on the vast amount of experience we have gathered over the years we can also support with the integration of the platform in a company’s software structure.
[Feedinfo] You’ve mentioned being able to compare performance with peers on the platform as a point of differentiation for Aviapp®. But how are you ensuring standardised scoring across various users?
[Ben Dehaeck] The platform offers a total of 79 illustrated health parameters. Where available, we have implemented internationally referenced scoring systems or developed new scoring references. Huvepharma also offers users regular training sessions and when new users are added to the platform, in-the-field training is conducted to make sure that all scoring is done according to the scoring system used in Aviapp®.
A key feature of the platform is the option for each company to share its data anonymously. Before sharing the data, the information is anonymised and pooled into country specific benchmarks. In return, the user can compare their company’s specific values with the country or area benchmark. Every customer can decide whether or not they wish to benchmark with the platform and today, 70% of all Aviapp® users contribute to the benchmark.
It is important to note that we do not compromise the confidentiality of a company’s data. Every user has full and instant access to all their contributed data and owns it. Huvepharma will never disclose user data to a third party as our role is limited to developing and facilitating the use of the platform and protecting user confidentiality.
[Feedinfo] Why, when others are looking to commoditise data, is Huvepharma offering this service free of charge? What is the business strategy here?
[Stefaan Bekaert] We do indeed offer Aviapp® free of charge to our customers. Huvepharma is an animal health company with a clear focus on livestock production. It has always been our strategy to focus on the needs of our customers and to support them by offering livestock solutions. We believe that if data is gathered in an objective and standardised manner, the best-performing products will always surface and will demonstrate the added value which we offer.
[Ben Dehaeck] Our new tagline is ‘shaping livestock solutions’. This means that we support our customers in livestock production to make good decisions and to boost their business performance while simultaneously optimising broiler welfare.
[Feedinfo] Following the success of the platform with broiler producers, are there plans to extend this service to other livestock species?
[Stefaan Bekaert] We are indded working to extend the platform to other poultry types, like breeders, layers, and turkeys, to be followed by other livestock species, like pigs or cattle. Current users really appreciate the user-friendliness and added value that Aviapp® provides.
Of course, the needs and specific parameters which are evaluated will need to be adapted for each added species. That said, we plan to have capabilities for layers on the platform before the end of the year.
[Feedinfo] Talking about new releases, what lessons have you learned in the seven years of Aviapp®’s existence that you would like to implement in future iterations of the platform?
[Stefaan Bekaert] Just like any other software tool, Aviapp® is in constant development and improvement. We listen to the needs of our customers and try to implement improvements where and when needed. At the end of the day if our customers can improve their performance, we benefit too as they are the key to our success.