World-first technology that will enable farmers to watch and bid on livestock sales from anywhere in the world is soon to be launched at Northern auction marts.
Harrison and Hetherington is currently trialling a live online bidding system - including the first ever smartphone app designed for the purpose - that will allow people to see and hear everything going on at the mart and to place bids in real time.
The company has invested thousand of pounds bringing the Xcira Online Ringman system to the UK.
The technology, supplied by Newline ASP, will be used for the first time at the flagship Black & White sale of top dairy genetics at Borderway, Carlisle, on December 6.
Harrison and Hetherington operations director, David Pritchard, said: “Over the last few years we have invested heavily in our seven marts in Northern England and the Scottish Borders to provide buyers and sellers with the very best facilities.
“The new online live bidding system really creates a mart fit for the 21st Century, where bidders anywhere in the world can see livestock in the ring and compete in real time with bidders at the mart.
“The new system really puts us at the cutting edge of the industry and will be immensely valuable at our major commercial and pedigree sales throughout the year, which regularly attract UK buyers and on occasions international buyers as well.
“We are expecting the technology to benefit not just buyers, but also vendors, by creating a wider customer base interest.”
The technology uses two cameras – one beside the auctioneer and a secondary one in the pre-sale area, so bidders can also watch the animals they are interested in while they are in the holding area.
Newline ASP, which provides back office online services to around 85% of the UK’s livestock auctions and which has worked with Harrison and Hetherington for 15 years, has integrated the new technology into its current system.
To use it, bidders must first register at www.harrisonandhetherington.co.uk . Once verified, they will be given a unique log-on that allows them to see, hear and bid in real time.
Although previous systems have allowed online viewers to watch auctions live, this is the first time technology has enabled them to bid.
Mr Pritchard said: “The bid button is real time, so the second you have a bid it goes to a clerk in the sale ring, who will place your bid exactly like a telephone bid.
“The camera and audio are always delivered sub-one second, so you are not behind in the bidding.
“You can now literally bid from the comfort of your armchair, while seeing and hearing exactly what people at the ringside are able to.”
Newline’s managing director Paul Christian Jones, who is overseeing the project, said: “The data is entered into the Newline system as normal and we then pass it through to the online system, so anything the local buyer sees in the mart the online bidder will also see.
“Rather than compromising the sales ring, this will increase its reach, meaning that vendors have a new shop window and potential customers who can’t get to the sale have new opportunities to get involved.
“Initially the technology will be available for use at specialised sales and Harrison and Hetherington will be able to use it whenever they want as other sales attract interest.”
Harrison and Hetherington expect the new system will be especially popular for the top pedigree and dairy sales, which have a global audience.