New Innovations in Agriculture Equipment Push Market Forward
The agricultural world came together at Agritechnica 2013 in Hanover, Germany, last month, attracting nearly a half million visitors and about 2,900 exhibitors from 47 countries. Not only was it an excellent opportunity for Dana to showcase our technological innovations to our customers, but it was also a chance for us to take the pulse of the market. As we walked the show floor, there were a few themes that kept coming up.
TECHNOLOGY DRIVES PRODUCTIVITY
The Global Harvest Initiative’s 4th Global Agricultural Productivity Report® identified numerous challenges in meeting the future demand for food, including low levels of investment by developing countries in agricultural research and development as a share of their agricultural GDP.
Fortunately, new technologies are allowing agricultural firms to work more productively and achieve a higher yield from every acre, helping to address the challenge of supplying the world’s growing population with nutritious, affordable food.
Many of these technologies designed to increase agricultural output were in evidence at Agritechnica. For example, Kuhn won a silver medal at the show for its new LSB 1290 iD baler, which produces bales that are up to 25 percent denser than those made with a conventional large square baler. These bales allow for more efficient handling, transportation, and storage of forage crops, especially those harvested as biomass for renewable energy projects.
TIME IS AT A PREMIUM
There’s an old farm saying, “make hay while the sun shines”; that’s still true today. Agricultural equipment is becoming increasingly complicated and precise, all with an eye toward helping producers make the most of the time they have in the field when conditions are right.
CLAAS won a gold medal at Agritechnica for its new online simulator. This system allows machinery operators to simulate work on a complex harvesting machine or tractor in a wide variety of conditions. New drivers can quickly learn the operation of a machine, while experienced operators can refresh their skills and seek improvements – all without losing valuable harvest time in the field.
THE HUMAN ELEMENT IS CRITICAL
While fatal work injuries in the U.S. agricultural sector have declined in the past few years, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported 21.2 fatal injuries per 100,000 workers in 2012 – the highest fatal injury rate of any industry sector. And according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 243 agricultural workers suffer a lost-work-time injury every day, with five percent of these injuries resulting in permanent impairment.
Agricultural equipment manufacturers are continually developing innovations to keep operators comfortable and alert, which is critical for keeping them safe.
John Deere earned a silver medal at Agritechnica for an innovative hitch assist system that makes it quicker, easier, and safer for an operator to couple implements and trailers. A set of push buttons mounted on the fender allows the operator to inch the tractor forward and backward and lift the hitch from outside the cab, reducing the time needed for implement set-up and reducing the risk of accidents or injuries from repeatedly climbing up and down.
What have we learned from these trends? At Dana, we are continually pushing the limits and developing cost-efficient drivetrain solutions that work efficiently and dependably in the background. Frankly, we want our solutions to be so seamlessly and completely integrated into the machine that operators don’t ever have to think about them.
Advances like our Spicer® central tire inflation system, our new Spicer modular steer axles, and Spicer independent front suspension axles are designed to maximize productivity over the long term, simplify operator control, ensure safety, and support fast, simple maintenance. These technologies are great examples of how we apply our engineering expertise to benefit customers in many different markets. Our central tire inflation system, for example, takes the same rapid inflate/deflate technology designed for military applications and deploys it to the agricultural market. We are very excited about this technology – and what it offers to end users in terms of productivity improvements in the field.
These are the trends that captured our attention, but we’re interested to hear your point of view as well:
· What were the most interesting innovations you saw at Agritechnica?
· What trends in agriculture will pose the greatest challenges for equipment manufacturers?
Published by George Constand