New combine harvesters prototypes: Lower maintenance cost and greater liability
Modern combine harvesters are the giants of agriculture. They are in constant operation at harvest time and ensure that grain, maze, rapeseed and other crops can be efficiently harvested. In addition, the harvester separates the valuable corn from the stems fully automatically, and in several integrated operations.
The objective of an efficient harvest is paramount in the development of combine harvesters. Due to the given dependency on weather, there are certain time windows which have to be intensively used, especially during the harvest season. Current combine harvesters can weigh over 30 tonnes and achieve a working width of over twelve metres, which significantly increases the harvesting capacity. A considerable increase in efficiency would be obtained by expanding the cutting width. The question remains, however, as to whether there are also technical innovations in harvesters and field shredders, in addition to changes in size.
In conjunction with the development of combine harvester prototypes, replacement of the materials used in the machine still holds great potential. Fresh thinking in the selection of material, as well as the substitution of complete modules or components, lead to weight reductions and thus to less soil compaction and energy usage. Durability and reliability reduce the risk of breakdown, and make the harvest predictable.
Silentium Drive – the quiet innovation for the modern combine harvester
The crop has to be transported in the harvester during the various working stages. For this purpose, a quickly running steel roller chain in the insertion channel behind the cutting system, which carries the crop at high speed by means of transversely placed steel strips and supplies the threshing aggregates, was previously used. During this process the chain and the hoisting shaft knock together, thus causing the harvester’s main source of noise, the typical harvester noise, which is a considerable strain both for the machine driver and the environment.
A further challenge is presented by the high maintenance requirement for the steel roller chain. If it is not retensioned in accordance with the schedule, there can be malfunctions, and the harvester comes to a stop. Wear and tear is also problematic, because both the chain and the gearwheels must be continuously monitored. If the harvester breaks down during the harvest, everything depends on the availability of parts and the replacement time: every hour during which a combine harvester is standing still causes additional costs.
Jäger has already presented a suitable solution to this problem at Agritechnica 2013|: a quiet combine harvester innovation, which is primarily based on the fact that the product developers at Jäger have completely rethought the challenges.
The Silentium Drive solves all the problems of the previous steel roller chain. In this module, the innovation lies in materials expertise and specific product know-how in the rubber area: the steel roller chains are replaced by a rubber fabric belt with parabolic cams. Fastening screws vulcanised directly into the belts hold the steel strips in position. This ‘material stream’ runs smoothly and quietly, thus minimising noise emission. The service life is many times longer than the previous steel system, and the costly retensioning of the chains is no longer necessary. Operating system costs are thus also reduced, as well as the stress on machine operators and the environment.
The Silentium Drive system can be installed in any combine harvester.
Increasing transport speed in the elevator and reducing expenditure on maintenance
There is still much more potential in combine harvesters for optimisation through the selection of suitable materials. At Agritechnica 2017 sister companies Broekema, Artemis and Jäger presented a new solution for the elevator in grain tanks. In this a rubber belt with high-strength reinforcement layers and very limited stretching replaces the previously used steel chain for the transport of the grain to the grain tank. Higher speeds and an increased throughput have thus become possible. As well as the inconvenient retensioning of the chain, the maintenance requirement necessitated by wear and tear on the gearwheels is also eliminated. By using this belt solution more than 30 kW of power output can be transmitted to downstream aggregates such as, for example, spreading augers in the grain tank, due to the synchronous properties of the system.
Product development in combine harvesters
Engineers from various agricultural machine manufacturers are working day-to day on optimising their machines for different operational purposes and climatic conditions. As experts in the use of rubber and synthetic materials, Jäger is actively supporting projects within the scope of development partnerships: in the course of these projects individual development, and the development of prototypes for combine harvesters, is the norm. Product optimisation or new development is started as a joint project in collaboration with agricultural machine manufacturers, and carried forward to mutual success.
New components and modules from rubber or synthetic materials, whose durability and flexibility are far superior to the previously used solutions from steel, are being developed for combine harvesters. A particular component is often completely redesigned in accordance with the current requirements of the industry.
The reliability of the machines is provided through the high resistance to wear and the durability of the assemblies developed by Jäger which is, in addition, developing individual prototypes with combine harvester manufacturers. In the course of field tests under the usual harvest conditions these pre-series models are proving that they are far superior to the previously used combine harvesters. There is at this point regular analysis of how the new components and modules behave in direct comparison with previous versions. In the field trials the laboratory results from the material testing is revalidated under typical operating conditions.
Product development for the life cycle of the components
Jäger’s integrated approach to development encompasses the whole life cycle of products, modules and components. This also includes the availability of spare parts and the replacement time for assemblies. Even the installation and mounting of spare parts is tested and evaluated. A lot of time can be saved here through the development of installation sets with a well thought out combination of component parts.
Our White Paper shows how Jäger products from rubber and synthetic materials help to overcome current challenges in agriculture. By means of practical examples, we demonstrate how product and solution developments from the Jäger establishment improve harvesters and sowing machines, and how development partnerships with the manufacturers of agricultural technology can be optimised.