Category Archives: Fusion

Fusion 3.4 Released

Fusion 3.4 has now been released. Fusion will now work seamlessly for feedlots that use a loader to mix rations into multiple feed boxes and then have these loads dumped into trucks for delivery.

When you need to manually enter feed, Fusion can automatically backdate the loads and deliveries for you.

To see a list of all the features and bug fixes, please see the release notes on our website.

Fusion will notify you when it is ready to upgrade at your feedlot. This will be sometime in the next two or three weeks.

Fusion 3.3 Released

Fusion 3.3 has now been released. The major feature added this time is the much requested Emergency Chuteside Mode. If you are running a chuteside job when the network goes down, you can now launch Fusion Truck in this mode to finish your job.

Another change will make it so you can let Windows automatically update itself on the server and Fusion Server will correctly shut down and then relaunch after Windows has restarted. We do recommend scheduling updates for 3:00 a.m. to avoid restarting during your backup or nightly calculations.

To see a list of all the features and bug fixes, please see the release notes on our website.

Fusion will notify you when it is ready to upgrade at your feedlot. This will be sometime in the next two or three weeks.

Fusion 3.2 Released

We are happy to announce that Fusion 3.2 has just been released. This version builds upon the GPS integration we started in the last version. Of particular note, Feed Guard and Delivery Guide are features which help you feed more efficiently and to the correct pens.

Another notable feature helps make sure you don’t have any feed that isn’t billed out. And if you need the ability to know which batch of drugs a drug event was part of for traceability purposes, this version has you covered. To see a list of all the features and bug fixes, please see the release notes on our website.

Fusion will notify you when it is ready to upgrade at your feedlot. This will be sometime in the first few weeks of January. (If you are still running Fusion 2.9.1, upgrading will be a manual process and we recommend you contact Kris Stroeve for guidance.)

Who Can See Your Data?

Occasionally we hear of misconceptions regarding Fusion. We would like to address one of these now because it strikes at the core of our philosophy. From the day we started developing Fusion, one of the guiding principles we insisted on was that each customer would have complete control over their data and that neither we, nor anyone else, would have access to that data. This is so important to us that we have tried to express it through the tag line for our company logo: “Putting You In Control of Your Data”. This has never changed. The only exception is when a customer asks us to come to their site or remotely log in to look at their data for support purposes.

In some ways it would have been easier for us to store all data from every location on a central server. This would have made support and upgrades less complex for us. However, the only way to ensure that a customer’s data stays completely in their control is for that data to physically be at the customer’s site. This is why we designed Fusion so that each customer has their own server located in their yard. When Fusion Truck synchronizes with Fusion Server, all communication stays on the local network between these two computers. Likewise, when Fusion Client is connected with Fusion Server, all communication happens only between these two computers.

Of course, there are ways for Fusion Server to send some customer data to other entities if the customer chooses. For example, a customer can ask Fusion Server to send move in events to CCIA or Benchmark data to Elanco. In each case, this data is transmitted directly from Fusion Server to the chosen entity. This data never comes to us. In fact, we can’t even tell how many people use these features in Fusion. This is completely under our customer’s control.

So far we have been referring to business related information. There is another kind of data that does get sent to us which we have previously only described in general terms to our customers. In the spirit of complete openness, we will now give a complete list of what we refer to as “server health data” which each customer’s server sends to our central server (located in the Waterton, AB area):

  • We are notified when a back up begins and ends. This allows us to proactively ensure that customer data is safe.
  • We are notified when Fusion Server launches or is shut down. This helps us identify patterns where Fusion Server may not be working correctly.
  • Each night certain statistics about the server are sent to us. This includes details such as the percentage full of the hard drive, the operating system version, the server’s local IP address, recent memory usage fluctuations, crash counts, the size of the data and index files, and some of Fusion Server’s settings. This helps us improve Fusion Server and proactively resolve issues.
  • Each night Fusion Server performs an integrity check on the data and index files and then lets us know if the check passed.
  • When Fusion crashes, information about the error (error number, error method, line of code, etc.) is sent to us so we can proactively fix bugs that cause crashes. This may include a screenshot if the person who saw the crash specifically requests this.
  • License keys are automatically renewed through communication with this central server. Because licensing and billing are almost always tied to head count, a customer’s head count is sent to the central server. This is the only data we receive that could be construed as business or private data. Even so, we obfuscate it by having Fusion Server send just the average head count over the past 365 days so we don’t ever know the current head count at a customer’s place.
  • When Fusion is first set up at a customer’s place, we receive the name of the customer’s business along with the contact information associated with it. This is used for billing purposes and is collected in this automated way to save time and effort.

As you can see, the data that does come to us from customer’s servers does not include any normal, business data. We don’t know about customer’s lots or animals or pricing or anything of that nature. We only collect a small amount of data related to their servers’ health so we can proactively help keep their servers running.

We have tried to be open in the past. For example, we publish all of Fusion’s documentation on our website even though this allows competitors to see everything. We hope that being more open about where customer data lives and our philosophy regarding customer data will help erase any misconceptions regarding this issue.

Feel free to contact us if you have further questions regarding this topic.

Fusion 3.0 Released

We are happy to announce that Fusion 3.0 has just been released. It includes bug fixes and new features, including a new projections calculator.

Fusion Installer 3.5 has also been released with new features for testing your network if you have network issues.

The release notes for both applications are available here.

Monthly Billing

For many people there is always a bit of anxiety when it comes to creating an invoice. There is only one reason to invoice: we need to get paid for the time and resources expended that month, so that we can invest more time and resources next month. As far as Fusion is concerned, invoicing can be boiled down to five considerations: Items, Usage, Attributes, Yardage, and Other Items. The first three areas are where we are going to set our focus, but for now let’s talk about yardage and other items.

Yardage is simply a value put against head days of a lot. Other items are a way of attributing a bulk charge against a lot. These can have a note associated with them and can be backdated, and as long as it is within the current billing period these items will appear on the invoice. You can add other items in the Billing tab of the Lot Edit window.

Both yardage and other items are quite simple to use and understand. The next few areas are a bit more involved and deserve more attention. Let’s start with “Items”. Items are ingredients, inputs, or drugs and are created in the Admin module under Set Up.

“Usage” is determined by the actions taken in the yard:

  • Feeding creates usage that will effect commodities and ingredients.
  • Chuteside events (treating or processing) will create drug and input usage.
  • Other input usage can be created by using the Bulk Add Input window for things like bedding or pen delivered hay.

Once usage is created it will be associated with an attribute. Attributes can be set at any time within the current billing period. This includes backdating the item attribute to the beginning of the billing period at a later point. Most usage will only need to be multiplied by “cost” and “bill at” values for each item, but some items like ingredients and some inputs will also rely on dry matter or equivalency values to come up with the correct usage, cost, and bill at values.

The point is that before we invoice we should review our attributes and usage. These two areas, if not set or tracked properly, will give you grey hair no matter how you create an invoice.

Here’s how we do it. First, let’s review our current attributes. As you are well aware, very few of these attributes will change month to month so it is not always necessary to print this off every time, but this is how to find your current attribute values:

  1. Open the Bulk Attribute Change window (Fusion Core → Attributes → Bulk Attribute Change).
  2. Select the item (ex. Drug) on the top left then the attribute (ex. Cost) just to the right. Now click the Fill List button.
  3. Click the Show Advanced button on the bottom left of the window. In the middle of the window you will find an area that lets you change the information in the “Previous” column based on these choices. Fill the Item Attribute, Location, and Date in with the information that you want to see. Now go ahead and click the Update Previous Column button. (Location is one thing you need to be aware of, because if you were setting location specific pricing or attributes these will only be listed per location in the list that we are about to print. If you are running location specific attributes you will need to print this list per location.)
  4. You will notice that the “Previous” column is filled with the current values that will be used for billing. Now go to any one of the column headers and right click. Four options will appear in a drop list. This is where you can print the list of current attributes.

I imagine that this list will only have to be printed off once or twice. After that you will know where to look to find current values and the list will not be needed. I also think that this is a great way to calm fears of wondering if you have everything covered.

Next let’s look at the usage for the month. You will find this in Fusion Office under Yard Reports. If you choose Feedlot Usage Report, the window that opens up will default to the previous month. Select the location (all locations is not an option). If you’d like you can narrow it down to a specific lot, but in this case we will leave that field blank. Now check all the boxes of the areas that you’d like to review (usually all of them) and print. With this report you will be able to see if you have all your cost and bill at values in correctly. You can also double check the usage for the month prior to invoicing.

If you do come across an item that was missed you can create usage in a number of ways. Depending on how you want this to happen you may have to create a virtual job or mix a load of feed and back date it, or create a drug or input event.

Once you’ve gone through these two steps you may find that you have completely missed a charge like a chute fee (which would be an input). At this point you have to go through this process:

  • Create an input called “Chute Fee”
  • Create “cost” and “bill at” attributes
  • Create usage. In a case like this I would just make an input event for the 250 “Chute Fees” against lot X if lot X had 250hd.

This would just be a bulk charge to cover the cost of what we had missed during that month. If this were a drug and I wanted the charges and withdrawals to apply to each animal I would create a virtual job.

Bringing Grass Cattle Back Into the Feedlot

I have had a lot of calls from people asking how to best deal with cattle that have been in the feedlot for backgrounding, out to grass over the summer, and then back in for finishing. Some of you want to keep the past history for future treatment, health, and production information. Others don’t care about it and just want to start fresh when they come back in. Either way, this should help.

If You Want to Start Fresh

Do a search for those animals that went out to grass. Make sure you have the right bunch. Then select all animals and choose Bulk Update from the Modify button. Use this window to change the status of all the animals to “Not Current”.

At this point you are ready to process these cattle and Fusion will now recognize them as new cattle and start billing their new lot from that day forward.

If You Want To Retain History, But Not Billing

This can be fairly simple if the correct steps are taken beforehand. If you know a certain group of cattle will be going to grass over summer then coming back in the fall, make sure you have those cattle identified in a way that you can do a search to find those ID’s before they arrive in the fall. This can be done with custom IDs.

When those same cattle come back in the fall, do a search for them in the animal list window using the ID mentioned above. Then select all animals and choose Bulk Update from the Modify button. Now you will check the Change Status To checkbox and select Current from the drop list. You will also use this window to change the Location/Lot to the new lot that they will be going into. The options below the location/lot check box should be set to Move Animal To New Lot On Date, usually with the current date set. At this time be sure to hit the tab key to get the cursor out of the lot field. Once that is done select anything else you’d like to change at a lot level like current and home pens, cattle type. You may even want to add a note.

At this point you are ready to process cattle. Fusion will now recognize them from the new lot and bill accordingly.

If you need or want to change the management tag number you will have to set up a job that will overwrite custom IDs. To do this you will have to select the “Overwrite if this ID already exists” checkbox in the “Change Custom ID” subjob. This will apply to every one of your custom ID’s you want to change.

Fusion 2.9 Released

We are happy to announce that Fusion 2.9 has just been released. Though there are a few bug fixes and small enhancements, the most important change is that Fusion is fully documented and all documentation is available from within Fusion itself.

As always, the release notes are available here.

Fusion Documentation

We are pleased to announce that full documentation for Fusion is now available on our website. With over 250 topics spread over 500 pages, we think you will find the documentation both comprehensive and beneficial. Here are a few points we’d like you to know about:

  • All the documentation will be available from within Fusion in version 2.9 which will be available in the next few weeks. It has a Documentation window which can be used to view and search every topic. In addition, every window in the new version has a help button which will open the relevant topic in the Documentation window.
  • The documentation is heavily cross-linked so you can easily read related topics to gain a more full understanding of each part of Fusion.
  • The exact same documentation is available in Fusion and on the website. This makes it easy to access when you are using Fusion, but allows full access if Fusion isn’t working for some reason.
  • We have created an internal system that makes it simple to keep the documentation up to date all the time now. The website’s documentation will be updated with any changes each time we send out a new version of Fusion.
  • The first section in the documentation is named Fusion Basics and it is designed to give you a basic, overall understanding of how to use Fusion. Even if you have used Fusion for a long time, we especially encourage you to read the Core Concepts, Data Entry Techniques, and Entity Chooser topics.
  • The other sections and subsections follow the same pattern as Fusion’s menu system which should make it easy to find most documentation even without searching.
  • We recognize you may encounter spelling and other errors and encourage you to report these as well as any other suggestions you have for the documentation. We want to make it the best documentation possible! Feedback can be given from directly within the Documentation window after you upgrade to Fusion 2.9.

If you are new to Fusion, we definitely encourage you to read through the documentation. Even if you have been using Fusion for a long time, we encourage you to at least become familiar with the overall structure of the documentation so you will know what is available when you have questions. We hope you will also occasionally take time to read a topic. We think that if you do you will find helpful features you were not aware of before.