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.

Micro Machines

Micro machines are widely used in the US and are gaining popularity in Canada. These machines dispense additives (i.e. Monensin, MGA etc.), removing the need to have a unique supplement/bin for each combination of additive fed. In the US, the two most common micro machines are made by Micro-Beef and Lextron. Using these machines require you to buy the additives from the company that makes the machine.

A machine made in Saskatoon by Comco Controls is gaining popularity in both US and Canadian feedlots. Mechanically, it is similar to the alternatives. The big difference is that it is marketed separate from the additives it dispenses allowing you to buy cheaper additives. Another difference is that the Comco machine is now integrated with Fusion. Now you can add each additive as you do other ingredients in a ration formula. As a load of feed is being made, Fusion communicates with Comco to start batching the proper additives. At the mill, a push of a button in Fusion dispenses the additives onto the load of feed. The larger Comco bins also make it easier to add a trace mineral/vitamin package through the machine. For many diets, calcium could be the only other nutrient that needs to be supplemented. In other words, it is feasible that limestone and a Comco machine could deliver all the supplementation that is needed. This could reduce supplementation costs considerably.

Together, Comco and Fusion can increase simplicity, accuracy, and cost savings.

(An Excel spreadsheet is available to help determine proper levels of additive to enter into Fusion.)

Quick Printing Lists

Have you ever seen a table of information in Fusion and wished you could just print it as is? In the past customers have resorted to using “print screen” from the operating system or other applications to take a picture and then print that. Fusion 2.8 introduces a new feature that should forever relegate “print screen” to the past.

Fusion List Types

Before explaining the feature further, it is important to understand that there are two different kinds of list views in Fusion. The main type, which is used in most of the major list windows (Animal list, Pen List, Loads list, etc.), already has the ability for printing through the Advanced Print function. The new feature does not work with this kind of list. The other kind of list shows up in many windows within Fusion and the feature will work with every one.

Invoking Quick Printing

To print a list, right-click anywhere in the list’s header area. It doesn’t matter which column header you click in. A menu will appear with several options:

  • Print List. Prints the list exactly as it is seen. You change the column order or size of the list before printing. Only as many columns as can fit on the page will be printed.
  • Copy List to Clipboard. Copies the list to the system clipboard. It can then be pasted into a spreadsheet or other application.
  • Save List as a CSV File. Saves the list as a comma separated file. The file can then be opened by a spreadsheet or other application.
  • Save List as a Tab Delimited File. Saves the list as a tab delimited file. The file can then be opened by a spreadsheet or other application.

As an example, open the Lot’s Pen List window and right-click in the list header to print the list. Another common usage would be quick printing the detail areas in the Lot Center window.

We hope that this feature will make you more productive when you want to quickly get something printed without taking the time to set up a report.

Fusion 2.8 Released

We are pleased to announce that Fusion 2.8 is being released today. This version takes a long step toward being fully documented. It also has several new features and bug fixes. We are particularly excited that Fusion is now fully integrated with the Comco micro machine. In addition, Fusion now has the ability to control sorting gates during a chuteside job.

Be sure to upgrade soon!

Chuteside Job Queue

In this article we’ll take a look at a feature that has been around since Fusion 2.6—putting chuteside jobs in a queue. The queue gives feedlot managers more control over how jobs are set up and a chance to review the job before it is finalized, all from the office.

Adding a Job to the Queue

To add a job to the queue, go to Fusion Chuteside→Jobs→Start Job and follow these steps:

  • Choose the location the job will be performed at.
  • Choose “Start A Brand New Job”.
  • Choose the job you want to start.

You will then be presented with the Job Options window where you can set the job up exactly the way you want. When finished, click the Add To Queue button instead of the Start Job button. At this point you can give the job a different name for the queue. You can also check the Request Finalization option. Then click the Add To Queue button and the job will now be in the queue.

Starting a Queued Job

When the crew is ready to start a job that is in the queue, they choose Start Job→Start An In Queue Job and then choose the job they want to start. The jobs will be listed by the queue name you gave them. After they choose the job, they will not see the Job Options window. Instead, the job will be ready to begin immediately.

About Job Queue Names

When you are giving the job a name before adding it to the queue, you want to name it something that will make sense to the crew that will be doing the job. For example, you might have a generic “Re-implant” job you want to use to re-implant several lots during the week. Maybe the job needs to be set up differently for each lot (a different implant or weight breaks, for example). You could add a job for each lot to the queue and name it after the lot (Lot 1 Re-implant, Lot 2 Reimplant, etc.). When the crew runs the job they just choose the job based on the name of the lot they are working with.

The Request Finalization Option

If you turn this option on before queueing a job, Fusion will not allow the crew to finalize the job when they are done. Instead, they’ll only have the option to send the job for review. When they do this, you will get a message that a job is ready to review. From the office, you can review the job and finalize it when you are satisfied it is done correctly. (If you are set up to receive text messages when an urgent message is sent, you’ll get a text when these jobs are done.)

Elevated Permissions

I’d like to mention another feature that ties in nicely with the job queue. One of the options in the Job Definition window is the checkbox labeled “Requires elevated permissions to begin job”. When this option is turned on, the job cannot be started by someone who doesn’t have the correct permissions set. You could set this option for jobs that should only be added to the queue from the office. That way, only your managers could start the job, but they could do it from the office and get it in the queue so anyone else could actually do the job.

We hope this feature adds the flexibility and control your chuteside managers need in making sure the correct things are done during each job.

Virtual Chuteside Jobs

Have you ever finished a chuteside job and then realized that you had given a product to every animal that wasn’t recorded in Fusion? Or perhaps you wished you could have Fusion pre-sort animals based on some criteria it already knew about? Virtual chuteside jobs can be used for these kinds of situations.

A virtual job is a chuteside job that can be run from an office computer and is based on a selection of animals. Of course, some things will not make sense in this context. For example, obviously Fusion will not be able to get an accurate weight for the animal. But many things will work just fine.

So how do you create a virtual job? You will first need to get a list of animals that you want to be in the job. You might do this by looking at a previous job and viewing the animals from that job. You might select a lot or pen and then open the Animal list as a child window to get a list of all the animals in that lot or pen. Or you might just open the Animal list window directly and apply a search to get the desired animals.

However you arrive at a list of animals, the next step is to select the animals. (Tip: the animals will show up in the job in the same order as they are listed, so if you need them in a certain order—to apply a tag number, for example—make sure you order the list appropriately first.) Next click the Modify menu button and select Start A Virtual Job With Selected Animals. You can then select a job, set the job up, and get started.

The first thing you might notice is that the job controller has some additional information indicating that this is a virtual job and how many animals are in the job. At this point there are two ways to move through the job:

  • Click the Next button to bring in each animal from the list into the job. This works well if there is something manual you need to do for each animal. The job will proceed just as if you were at a real chuteside with each animal coming into the chute. If you can finalize the job before all the animals from the list are brought into the job, the extra animals will not be included.
  • If you don’t need to do something manual to each animal, click the gear button in the Job Controller window and choose Automatically Do Virtual Job. This will start at the current animal and automatically bring each animal from the list into the job. When it is done, you can review the animals like normal before finalizing.

Fusion is not meant to handle more than 300-400 animals in a normal job and the same is true for virtual jobs. Keep that in mind when you are selecting animals for the job. If you need to work with more animals than that, it is best to divide into multiple jobs.

Virtual jobs are a powerful addition to Fusion and can be very useful in many situations. We hope you give them a try!

Electronic Keyboards At Chuteside

A basic premise for Fusion is to capture as much information with as little data entry as possible. We think it does a pretty good job of this, but there are still times when user input is necessary. For example, if you are inducting a group of cattle with mixed colors or breeds there isn’t an automatic way to capture this information for each animal. You can still enter it pretty fast using the touch interface in Fusion, but there is an even faster way—an electronic keyboard.

Since Fusion 2.6, we have supported electronic keyboards for certain kinds of input during a chuteside job. This picture shows what one can look like:

Electronic Keyboard

There are four things about these keyboards that make them especially useful during a chuteside job:

  1. They can be mounted directly to the squeeze which means they are a little closer to the action than the computer usually is.
  2. Someone can be entering information on one subjob in Fusion while someone else is using the keyboard to enter information for a completely different subjob at the same time.
  3. You can have multiple keyboards (ex. one on each side of the squeeze), each being used at the same time to input information. The keyboards can be the same or different from each other.
  4. They are made for a very punishing environment and use special sensors to detect your fingers. This means they are quite safe in your barns, should last for years, and can be used with or without gloves. They also beep loudly when they sense a key press so you know when the key was pressed.

These keyboards are sold by Electronic Keyboards, Inc. There is a specific model which has been programmed for Fusion users (90 PKB-FMTH-C2-SSG1). The neat thing about the keyboards is that each one is customized for your feedlot. While the help files in Fusion give more information, the basic process to create and use one of these keyboards is:

  1. Create a new keyboard profile (Open the Job Definitions window and choose Edit Keyboard Profiles from the Options menu).
  2. Use this window (example shown below) to design your keyboard. You can decide what each button does as well as change the coloring and fonts for each button.
  3. Have Fusion email this information to Electronic Keyboards. They will reply with the information you need to purchase your customized keyboard. (Make sure you also save the Keyboard Profile for later use!)
  4. Once you keyboard has arrived and is mounted, use the Physical Computer Management window to let Fusion know the port it is connected to and which profile should be associated with the keyboard. (Remember you can have more than one keyboard connected to the computer at the same time.)

Electronic Keyboard Profile Creation

This is just a summary of what the keyboard can do. If you are interested in learning more, please check out the help buttons associated with the keyboard related windows in Fusion. We think that for the few things that occasionally need human input like breed, color, and source, using an electronic keyboard will speed your jobs up.

Setting Default Animal Attributes

In this post I’d like to explain how to make sure animals have the correct sex, breed, color, cattle type, and source attributes. It’s important to understand that these attributes can be stored at both the lot and animal level. If you are only interested in this information at the lot level, you don’t need to worry about anything else, but if you want this information to be correct for the individual animals within a lot then the following information will help.

The key to making sure the information is correct is to include the Change Attributes subjob in the first job that sees the new animals. If you do not include this, Fusion will do its best to assign sensible values for these attributes, but you won’t have as much control. Here is the logic for assigning these values to new animals without this subjob present:

  • If the animal is being assigned a lot, the sex, breed, color, and cattle type will be the same as the lot. This means the lot must have these values assigned before the job starts. If the animal is not being assigned a lot during the job, the sex will be “Unknown” and the other attributes will be left blank.
  • The source will be left blank if no lot is assigned. Otherwise, Fusion will try to assign the lot’s cattle buyer as the source first. If no cattle buyer has been assigned, the lot’s originating herd will be assigned. Again, these values must be assigned to the lot before the job starts for them to be assigned to the new animals.

When you include the Change Attributes subjob, if you leave all the settings to their defaults you will get the same behavior as just described. However, there are two advantages to including the subjob:

  • It is more apparent that attributes are being set as they can be seen as part of the job. This means it will be more likely that someone will notice if a mistake is being made. It also means that the attributes can be changed for individual animals during the job.
  • You can allow the defaults to be changed during job setup to ensure that values are correct for this group of animals. For example, you may have a lot that was built from multiple sources and you are processing them in groups. At the beginning of each job, just change the default source for the group.

If you have made mistakes or this wasn’t done in the past, you can use the Bulk Update window to set these attributes for whole groups of animals at once. Once caught up, we recommend the above approach for new animals in the future.

As feedlots move to a more individual animal level of information tracking, knowing the source and other attributes for each animal becomes more important. Hopefully this post has helped you understand how to do this in Fusion.

Tracking Pen Density

Starting with Fusion 2.6, density information is calculated by Fusion based on the size of each pen and the number of animals in the pen each day. This information is calculated so that for any particular day you can see the density of a pen and the average density of a lot. You can also see the average density over the life of a lot. Bunk density is also calculated.

In order for Fusion to do this, it must know the size of each pen. Until Fusion 2.6, there was no place to enter pen sizes. While you can now you can use the Pen edit window to enter this for each pen, there is a utility which will make it easier for current customers to get started using this feature. It is called the Pen Dimension Conversion Utility and can be found under Fusion Admin→Utilities.

The utility lists all your pens and has a place to enter the length, width, and bunk length for each one. When you are finished entering this information, Fusion will save it to the individual pens and then calculate all historical density information from the day you started using Fusion. Because this can take some time so we recommend doing it at the end of the day so it can run into the night. Please note that this utility is meant to be used only once to help you get started. In the future you should make changes with the Pen edit window directly when needed.

We hope the new density information will prove useful as you analyze the data associated with your feedlot.

Source, Custom, and Other Animal Fields

In the beginning, there was space given for one RFID tag and five management tags. And it was supposed that this was an exceedingly great amount of space for tag management. And the people used the space sparingly and were happy.

But after a time, there were some who wanted to store new information. And seeing only these fields, they defiled them by putting non-ID related information in them. And it came to pass that there were diverse ways to misuse these fields, even to the storing of the buyer. And this was not good.

And it came to pass that Fusion’s creator saw the misuse of these fields and that the people clamored for more space to store more information. And lo, changes were made to Fusion and a multiplicity of fields were added to store many pieces of information for each animal. And thus peace was restored to the people.

Okay, I’ll admit that was a silly introduction to this topic. But I want to draw your attention to some of the new fields available for each animal in Fusion and show you how to migrate old data in the ID fields to the new fields where appropriate. Let’s look at some of the new fields first.

Source Field

One of the most common uses of the ID fields was to store the source or buyer. This was problematic because Fusion didn’t understand how to interpret who the source was. Also, it was difficult to enter and make sure it was spelled the same each time. There is now a field specifically for the source and it links to the contacts you have already set up in other areas of Fusion. Entering the source is much easier (check the help pages for more on this) and Fusion can always link to the contact. This will make for some interesting reporting so we recommend using the new source field right away. If you have existing source information in the ID fields, we recommend migrating the data to the new fields (see below for one way to do it).

Attribute Fields

To the sex, breed, and color fields that have been in Fusion before, we have added cattle type, hip height, frame score, thriftiness score, and temperament score fields to help describe an animal. All of these can be entered in during a chuteside job. If you use a lot of these fields you might consider purchasing an electronic keyboard to mount on your squeeze for faster entry.

Weight and Implant Fields

Fusion automatically keeps track of the in weight, last known weight, and current estimated weight for each animal. There are five other weight fields where you can store an animal’s weight at specific times for comparison purposes. When doing a chuteside job you can ask Fusion to automatically populate one of these fields with the animal’s weight from that job. Don’t worry about doing this to track the weight at different implants, though. There are five other groups of fields that Fusion automatically fills in for you that track the implant product, date, and the weight of the animal when the implant occurred.

Genetic Test Fields

If you are doing any DNA sampling for your cattle, Fusion provides five fields which you can customize for storing sample results for each animal. Note that, like the other fields, these fields can be used to help determine which sort group an animal belongs to during a sorting chuteside job.

Custom Fields

Between the fields mentioned above and the other built in fields, you can track a lot of information on each animal. If there is still more information you wish to track, Fusion provides five more fields for you to customize and put any information you want into them.

Please note that if you start using any of the custom fields mentioned above, you should change the field labels to describe the information you are storing. This is done in the Preferences window as shown here:

Animal Custom Fields Preference Pane

Migrating Data

There are several ways of migrating data from the ID fields to the new built-in or custom fields. I’ll briefly describe a few of them and then look at one common case in more detail.

Export/Import Method

If any of your ID fields have data that simply needs to be moved to a custom field, one option is to export the data to a file and then import it back in to another field. In the Animal list window, create an advanced print report that contains the animal’s lot and RFID tag as well as any custom ID fields you want to migrate. Then select the animals you want to do this for and run the report, saving it to a CSV file. Now, choose Modify→Import From File… from the Animal list window. From here you will choose the file you just created and let Fusion know which columns are the lot and RFID so it will import the information to the right animals. For the other column(s), choose the new fields you want the information to migrate to and then let Fusion do the import.

Here is a trick you can use to clear out the old data. When you do the export, include a column that will be blank. This can be from a field you know is blank or from a text type calculated column with nothing in it. When you do the import, associate this column with the ID field you want to clear out.

Grid Edit Method

If any of your ID fields have data that needs to be changed slightly before moving, the Grid Edit window may be your best help. This is especially true if you only have a few animals to deal with or if many of the animals have the same information associated with them. From the Animal list window, select the animals you are interested in and choose Modify→Grid Edit. You will be asked what fields to show next, so choose the ID field you want to move and the other fields you want to change. Now you can enter the information you want. If you have chosen animals that all have the same information, or sorted them so they are in groups of the same information, just enter the information in the top cell and then right click it to ask Fusion to copy the values to the cells below.

Bulk Update Method

For a few of the fields, the Bulk Update can be a little faster if you are only dealing with animals that have the same information. Again, select the animals you are interested in and choose Modify→Bulk Update…. Tell Fusion what field you want to change and what the new value will be and then let Fusion make the changes. This is also a good place to assign a blank value to an ID field after the data has been migrated to other fields.

A Common Case: Buyer/Source Migration

One of the most common things that people used a custom ID field for was to record the buyer. Now there is a dedicated “source” field which this information should be migrated to. Here are the steps that I recommend for migrating this data:

  1. In the Animal list window, do a query to find a group of animals that all have the same source. You might do this by lot or by searching/sorting on the old buyer field.
  2. Select all the animals that are from the same source.
  3. Open the Bulk Update window (Modify→Bulk Update…) and turn on the “Change Source to:” field.
  4. Enter the source contact.
  5. Click the Make Change button.
  6. Repeat for each group of animals.

Remember To Test!

All of these techniques change data in a way that cannot automatically be undone. You should always test on just an animal or two to make sure it works the way you are expecting before doing it to a lot of animals.

Already, and more so in the future, Fusion takes advantage of these new fields during reporting and other activities. We highly recommend that you stop using the ID fields for non-ID information and start using the other fields. We also recommend taking the time now to migrate historical data to the new fields.