CDL Intelligence : Making Our Custumers Everyday Lives Easier !

By Marc-André Chabot, Co-owner of CDL and Vice President of Research and Development

CDL Monitoring has been taken to another level recently. It’s become CDL Intelligence, because it’s now a complete sugar bush management system. Our vision was to create a system that supports you every day, like a second brain, helping you automate repetitive daily tasks so you no longer need to think about them. We also wanted it to be like a second pair of eyes, making it easier to manage your sugar bush and your facilities by providing real-time access to essential data. Finally, we needed to develop a system that could be customized for every possible configuration and type of equipment for small, medium, and large producers alike. In short, we needed all the information to be centralized.

Since our customers’ computer skills vary greatly, we simplified our platform so that all generations could navigate it easily and feel comfortable quickly. The new platform is also available on smartphones, tablets, and computers.

We are very happy with this achievement and proud to share testimonials from two customers who use CDL Intelligence to make their daily lives easier.

FERME F.A. GODBOUT INC.

Located in Saint-Gervais in Bellechasse, Quebec, Ferme F.A. Godbout Inc. is co-owned by Annik Godbout and her husband Guillaume Blais. The farm, which specializes in field crops and maple syrup production, expanded from 3,000 to 5,000 taps a few years ago. Annik is the 8th generation of Godbouts to live on this land, but the first woman in her family to manage it. She is also a mother of three (Jérémi, 7; Éricka, 11; and Xavier, 15) and has “a pretty busy life!” as she says with a smile.

From left to right, row of top: François, Annik and Guillaume.Bottom row: Éricka and Jérémi. Absent of the photo: Xavier

 

When it became impossible for her to manage the labour needs alone, Annik decided to add the CDL Intelligence system to her sugar bush. Thanks to the vacuum sensors in the bush, managing leaks has become a lot easier for her. “With 13 mainlines to monitor, CDL Intelligence saves me a lot of time. I don’t need to walk through the bush every day—only when it’s needed, based on the data I receive on my phone. For me, that means extra time with my family, but also extra time for managing other parts of my business.” The system has also helped improve her yield. For example, if a tree branch falls and breaks the tubing on a windy day, she can immediately use CDL Intelligence to locate the leak. That means she can quickly reach maximum yield, reducing the losses she would have had if the break had gone undetected for a day or more.

Annik has other equipment connected to the CDL Intelligence system as well, including the extractor, the vacuum pump controller, and the tank level sensors. “From my phone, I can look at every part of my system to check on my tubing or my tank levels. I check on them several times a day—it’s all at my fingertips. It’s so easy and fun to manage. With the colour coding, I can see right away what the problem is.” This high-tech factor also appeals to the company’s next generation, Xavier, who is already helping out in his spare time and between his high school studies. Annik is very proud to be able to train the next generation. Above all, she’s thrilled that her father François is still active in the company and passing on his wisdom: “It’s so nice to see my guys working together! I’m incredibly lucky to have all three of them with me.

CDL Intelligence has brought Annik a level of efficiency that pays dividends not only for her company, but for her life. The same is true for our second customer.

ÉRABLIÈRE M.M.P.S. CÔTÉ INC.

Michel, Mario, Patrick, and Sylvain Côté are co-owners of Érablière M.M.P.S. Côté Inc. Their passion for maple sugaring comes from their father Aimé and their uncle Sauveur, with whom they would go around and collect the sap from buckets in the bush as kids. Patrick explains how the idea of starting a business came about: “In 1997, Mario told me that he wanted to buy a woodlot for our retirement. I told him that we should learn from Dad’s experience and buy a sugar bush instead so we could enjoy it now. We had our dad with us for six years to teach us the basics of maple sugaring. Just before he passed, he told us that we were ready to grow.”

From left to right : Patrick, Mario, Michel and Sylvain Côté.

Maple sugaring still requires staffing, and that staff needs to be managed. These remain considerable challenges. However, as both customers can attest, our CDL Intelligence system helps smooth their day-to-day operations while optimizing their profitability.

Year after year, the Côtés improved their first 4,000-tap sugar bush in Saint-Charles-de-Bellechasse. They started by buying neighbouring properties, then in 2005 they bought Alain Métivier’s sugar bush (a former IPL sugar bush) in Saint-Lazare-de-Bellechasse, and in 2009 they bought Lucie and Christian Chabot’s sugar bushes in Notre-Dame-Auxiliatrice-deBuckland, Saint-Nazaire, Honfleur, and Saint-Lazare-de-Bellechasse. Today, they are very proud of all their sugar bushes, totalling 65,000 taps. They operate two sugar shacks. The main sugar shack is the cutting-edge Saint-Lazarede-Bellechasse facility, where CDL Intelligence is involved in every step of the process, from harvesting to bottling. In fact, the only thing that isn’t fully automated is the boiling itself. That’s left to Michel, the “boiling expert.” The Côté brothers have recently added automated pan washers to their daily routine to make that important step easier. Even in the middle of sugaring season, the shack is easily managed by just two employees. Work in the bush (tapping, leak repair, and tap removal) is subcontracted to a team that can access the data from the vacuum sensors in the trees. The Côté brothers bring their families to the second sugar shack in Saint-Charles every weekend, both to have fun and to teach their children the basics of the trade, just as their father did before them.

For the Côté brothers, CDL Intelligence allows them to have a work-family-maple sugaring balance that “changes everything.” Mario elaborates: “Of the four owners, three of us have other full-time jobs. It would be impossible for us to do this without that technology. It lets us have a balanced life and keep operating and growing. And above all, it keeps us stay passionate without working ourselves to death. Ever since we bought the intelligent reverse osmosis system five years ago, it’s been night and day in terms of work.” Sylvain adds: “Now, with our 65,000 taps, we rarely leave the sugar bush after 7 p.m. We monitor our equipment in our living rooms, at home, with our kids. Intelligence and automation make work easier and eliminate the risk of human error during busy periods when fatigue typically sets in. This last season was the best example of that.” Of course, maple sap is still transported between sites by truck, but the Côté brothers have even found a way to make that easier: they manage the trucks by establishing precise filling times and selecting valves.

Maple sugaring still requires staffing, and that staff needs to be managed. These remain considerable challenges. However, as both customers can attest, our CDL Intelligence system helps smooth their day-to-day operations while optimizing their profitability.

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