Construction Equipment Demo New Holland W80C Compact Wheel Loader

Out on demo with the New Holland W80C Compact Wheel Loader

We have been out on demo with the New Holland W80C Compact wheel loader, as the video illustrates the New Holland W80C is very maneuverable and does a fantastic job in this working environment. 

The four model, four wheel drive, articulated steer range, with power outputs of 58hp – 75hp, and operating capacities of 1.9t – 2.5t to a height of 3.1m – 3.4m respectively, offer high performance in a very agile package. The impressive performance figures are backed up by useful design features such as the low cab height of just 2.46m and max width of 1.74m on the smallest W50C model, which make it ideal for access to low farm buildings and narrow feed passageways. Added to these compact dimensions is the tight turn angle made by the articulated steering system, which makes it more manoeuvrable and user friendly than its all-wheel-steer competitors. The new cab design affords the operator a spacious working environment, the four pillar cab frame providing almost 360 degree visibility with minimal blind spots, is wide, bright and airy. The electro hydraulic joystick is truly multi-functional, making daily feeding or loading routines a swift and efficient affair.

 

HIGH VERSATILITY

The choice of one or two auxiliary hydraulic circuits and the availability of high flow in combination with creep speed allows work to be done at max flow at a constantly low forward pace. This capability is useful in a number of specialist applications such as snow blowing and yard sweeping.

 

HIGH PRECISION

The new Inch & Brake pedal progressively disengages the transmission in the decelerating phase while progressively engaging the brakes, giving the operator millimetric control of the machine at low speeds. The all-in-one joystick with proportional auxiliary control, flow memory button, float function and F-N-R switch puts all the machine’s controls in the operator’s hand.

 

SUPERIOR PERFORMANCE

The weight distribution enables the new compact wheel loader to fully benefit from its impressive improved lifting capacity. The superior hinge pin height and the contoured arms on Z-bar models, make it easy to load at the center of the trailer or feed wagon, without touching the edge. The automatic Glide-Ride system engages at speeds over 5.5km/h to prevent arm bouncing and to allow smooth travel at maximum road speed. Everything contributing to great productivity.

 

TRACTOR SALES DIP IN MAY

According to figures released by the AEA, following the high levels of registrations in April, UK agricultural tractor registrations (over 50hp) dipped in May.

A total of 889 machines were registered during the month, which is a -27.2% change, compared with May 2018.

Year to date, 5,162 units have been registers with is a -3.4% change, compared with January-May 2018.

Stephen Howarth, agricultural economist at the AEA, said of the dip, “This indicates that, as suggested last month, some of the registrations in April may have been due to machines which were brought into the country ahead of Brexit. It was always likely this would leave somewhat fewer to be registered in May.

“Nevertheless, registrations for the year to date were only 3% lower than in the first five months of 2018. That indicates that although Brexit is causing some volatility in the monthly figures, it has not had a dramatic effect on the number of tractors being registered overall.”

Robots and drones: addressing agriculture’s long-term structure challenges

As challenges facing the agricultural industry mount up, technological developments around drones and robotics could form part of an effective long-term solution, says Dr Khasha Ghaffarzadeh, research director at IDTechEx

Agriculture is facing major long-term challenges. Some forecasts suggest that world population is set to grow by 2.3 billion by 2050. This, together with rising global income levels that typically increase food demand per capital, would require raising food production in 2050 by 70% compared to 2005 levels.

In parallel, the world continues to urbanize at pace. Indeed, forecasts suggest that 70% of the world population will live in urban environment by 2050 compared with nearly 50% in 2009. This will adversely impact the availability of labour near agricultural lands. Add to this the facts that in many countries, particularly in the developed world, farmer population is ageing fast and that wages are increasing.

Furthermore, many agricultural activities demand seasonal labour. In many instances accommodating this need would require continued flexibility towards migrant workers, an objective that may become more difficult in places in the light of events such as Brexit. It is within this context that automation of agricultural tasks finds its economic purpose.

In parallel to all these structural challenges facing agriculture, our current production processes can often have long-term unintended environmental and health consequences. In particular, the use of non-selective herbicides continues to be a source of concern in Europe. As we shall explain later in this article, the advent of agricultural robots can accelerate the uptake of ultra-precision agriculture, helping enable farm management on a site-specific, and then later individual planet-specific, basis. This would result in an optimal use of agrochemicals tailored to the needs of individual sites or plants.

It is often assumed that agriculture is averse to innovation and therefore would be no place for the adoption of robotic technology. This would, however, simply be wrong; if we take a long-term view we will find that agriculture was one of the first major industries to adopt technology to boost its productivity. Indeed, employment- as a share of total- has been steadily declining in agriculture for centuries despite the fact its output per unit of labour has been increasing.

This productivity gain is due to new technologies. This gain has stemmed partly from better seed and agrochemical technologies that have boosted the yield per acre, and partly from better tools and machines such as powerful tractors and implements. Indeed, many robotic technologies can simply be viewed as the next incremental evolution in agricultural machinery technology that has over time seen farmers swap their manual sickles with horse-drawn implements and then with mighty tractors.

At IDTechEx Research, we have been analysing the technologies and markets for agricultural robots and drones. In our report Agricultural Robots and Drones 2018-2038: Technologies, Markets and Players, we analyse numerous robotic development taking place in the agriculture including robotic fresh fruit harvesting, robotic milking, etc. In this article however, we have chosen to primarily focus on two development axes within the world of robotics that are impacting agriculture: (1) advanced vision and (2) autonomous mobility.

When reading this you might wonder why this is all becoming possible now. Indeed, many ideas discussed here are decades old, but they are only becoming commercially viable now. The short answer is that this is now increasingly possible thanks to dramatic year-on-year improvements in the performance and price of computing power, sensing technologies, energy storage, electric motors, and so on.

Advanced vision to enable ultra-precision agriculture?

Vision technology is already in use in agriculture. A simple use case is in organic farming. Here, a tractor-pulled implement must be precisely driven along narrow rows to mechanically hoe out weeds. Here, basic vision technology can help: a camera mounted on the implement traces the crop row, identifying objects outside the row as the weeds. It then controls a side shifting mechanism to adjust the position of the mechanical hoe, thus helping alleviate the burden of precision driving of tractors.

The technology is now fast evolving. The later generations are essentially multiple ruggedized computers and camera systems integrated into the tractor-pulled implement. These systems take images as they are pulled along the field and identify weeds vs. crops. The systems then control a precise de-weeding mechanism, e.g., precisions spraying of the right selective herbicide, to take site-specific actions.

The vision technology here is much more powerful than the simple row-following approach. Here, deep learning algorithms are trained to identify crop vs. weed and to later differentiate between various weed types. This is no easy feat and cannot be achieved towards using traditional script-based approach towards programming. Simply put, this is because one is dealing with complex and variable entities that change shape and appearance during their growth. These algorithms can also become trained on smaller datasets than might be required, say, in autonomous passenger car driving since one is not dealing with matters of life and death.

The technology here has already been demonstrated and indeed commercial activity is accelerating. For example, last year we witnessed the first major start-up acquisition with a price tag exceeding three hundred million dollars. These are still early stages: the hardware is custom built by start-ups without the know-how, the farmers do not yet fully technology, and companies are offering their robots as a service to de-risk the adoption for end users. These however clear demonstrate the shape of the near future: ultra-precision agriculture enabled by advanced computer vision.

Autonomous mobility to give rise to new breed of agricultural vehicles?

Agriculture is the leading adopter of autonomous driving technology despite all the hype around driverless cars. Here, first came tractor guidance, helping drivers drive more accurately and relieving some of the pressure of maintaining driving accuracy. Next came autosteer, giving the operator the ability to programme a map into the tractor and let it navigate autonomously. Indeed, last year we forecast that more than 270k autonomous tractors (level 4 and 5) will be sold in 2018, rising to more than 500k by 2023.

Technology is now evolving towards full autonomy. Master-and-slave (or follow-me) systems are being trialled, enabling one driver to guide a fleet, thus boosting the driver’s productivity. Next will come manned yet fully autonomous tractors (level 5). This has already been technologically demonstrated. Here, the vehicle’s sensing suite must be expanded to enable it to avoid collision and operate even when the GPS signal is lost.

The next stage will potentially be unmanned autonomous tractors. Indeed, we have already seen early technology demonstrators. Currently, however, the farmers want to stay in charge, thus the cab is likely to be kept in the design. In the long term, however, the meaning of staying in charge will change, transitioning from driving the vehicle to, for example, remote fleet operation/management.

Taking the driver out of the equation can have profound consequences for the way we envisage agricultural machinery. The well-established notion that bigger is better has its origins in the need to enhance the productivity of the driver but this notion loses some of its relevance if farm vehicles become autonomous and unmanned.

This is because autonomous mobility will enable fleet operations by eliminating the wage bill overhead by vehicle. In this case, a few persons will remotely monitor and control the operation of a large fleet. Here, the productivity of individual units may be lower than traditional powerful vehicles such as tractors but the overall productivity- at the level of the fleet- could be higher.

Navigational autonomy can, therefore, initiate a major transition from a few large, heavy, fast and expensive vehicles towards fleets of small, light, slow and inexpensive agricultural robots. These agrobots would move slowly, giving extra attention to plants thus essentially bringing a gardening-like ultra-precision-farming approach to industrial farming.

We are currently at the beginning of this process. Research entities have demonstrated working prototypes and numerous companies have been established to commercialize such agrobots. Indeed, some are already selling small number of units.

Impact

These are major long-term evolutionary changes. They will help address some of the long-term structural challenges facing agriculture: increasing demand for food production, dwindling and ageing workforce, rising wages, environmental concerns, and so on.

These changes represent enormous opportunity for innovation and value creation. In Europe today, the research activity is taking place in small islands and often on a small scale with little funding. European Union should thus increase its research commitment to create integrated large-scaled and well-funded research programme.

Furthermore, these changes may shift the skills needed in the operating a farm. In general, data, analytics and robotics will increasingly take on a more prominent role. The European Union should thus find ways to equip farmers with the right skillsets to best utilize these new technologies.

Finally, these technologies may grow to become a commercially viable alternative to some farming practises today that represent environmental concerns. The increasing availability of a viable substitute will thus make it easier to tighten the regulation and even ban certain chemicals. This action will create a virtuous cycle that will further spur on innovation by providing a major additional commercial incentive.

This article was originally published in Government Europa Quarterly.

On test: Can-Am Traxter HD8 buggy

© Jonathan Page© Jonathan Page

Diesel might be the current fuel of choice for farm buggies, but there’s a new wave of petrol-powered machines looking to reverse that trend. To find out which colour of fuel is best, we put a few key players to the test.

First up was Can-Am’s Traxter HD8 DPS. It was at ease with almost everything we asked of it and has the sort of versatility you’d expect from a buggy.

See also: 4 new technologies on the way for livestock farmers

See also: Video: Petrol or diesel UTVs: which are best?

Can-Am Traxter HD8 DPS

Quick verdict

The powerful petrol engine has all the day-to-day grunt you would need and delivers it to the ground far more smoothly than the Polaris. Build quality and cab layout were good too, but it lost marks for being a bit skittish on the downhill route with a trailer in tow. Still, it’s the one we would buy.

Price as tested: £12,119

Best for: Performance and comfort

Worst for: Downhill engine braking

Running gear

The HD8 is the mid-ranking buggy in the Can-Am UTV range, but provides more-than-ample power. It carries a Rotax 779cc engine generating 50hp and has the full off-road spec list, including a low-range box and a locking rear differential. For those who want a bit more, Can-Am also offers the 72hp HD10.

The engine is pretty peachy by farm buggy standards, though a slight downside is the in-cab noise at full chat. That said, it’s nowhere near as deafening as the Honda.

The notchy gear selector stalk is clear and well designed – unlike the Polaris – and, once engaged, delivers power to the CVT transmission in typically smeary but brisk fashion.

Likes

  • Strong build quality
  • Comfortable and well-laid-out cab
  • Good load bed height
  • Excellent petrol engine

Gripes

  • Engine braking almost non-existent
  • Lights easily damaged
  • No diesel options
  • Noisy acceleration

In our timed hill climb routes, the Can-Am came out top dog on grass, but was pipped to the post by the more powerful Polaris on the tarmac.

In reality, the difference in times is irrelevant and all the drivers preferred the safer-feeling ride of the Traxter to the slightly out-of-control Ranger.

Towing up the hill with a trailer on and two chaps in the front added a barely noticeable three seconds to the unladen time, which isn’t far shy of pickup standards.

Cab

Access to the spacious and well-laid-out cab is good.

The wide openings allow even the biggest work boots to gain entry without stumbling, though the flappy net guards on our test model were pointless and caused a trip hazard.

We would favour solid doors, or nothing at all.

Sat in the driver’s seat gives a good view to all four corners of the vehicle and there’s enough space to rest a left foot on long journeys, unlike the compact Gator.

By buggy standards it’s surprisingly comfortable and the two passengers also have lots of legroom and a solid bar to hang onto around the bends.

An abundance of useful cubby holes to store farming paraphernalia wins it more brownie points, while a handy removable glovebox could house some go-to tools or medicines that need to stay dry.

The build quality was another feather in the Traxter’s cap. It’s solid, all the switches worked as they should and the flat floor can be pressure washed out without worrying about ruining the electrics.

One of the biggest perks was the two passenger seats that can be flipped up to offer an unobstructed floor-to-ceiling space capable of swallowing an assortment of dogs or multiple buckets of feed.

Can Am buggy interior view

© Jonathan Page

Working life

Going slowly down hills wasn’t part of the Traxter’s A-game. The engine did an average job of slowing the buggy on some steep descents without a load on the back, but it had a tendency to run away before reaching the bottom.

However, with a bale-filled trailer hooked on the tow ball its performance was far worse – particularly when compared with the ice-cool Gator. It simply couldn’t keep the engine speed under control for a sustained spell and could turn out to be quite dangerous if it has to negotiate lots of hills.

Elsewhere, the good-sized load bed offered a handy 840mm load height. With the Honda’s bed sitting a whole 100mm higher, lifting 20-litre chemical cans is relatively easy, but it was still bettered by the John Deere. Handily there are no bars to obscure connecting a trailer, though.

Access to the engine for servicing was as good with the load bed tipped. On the down side, the rear lights are woefully exposed on the Traxter and would only need a slight bump before new clusters are needed.

Can Am buggy rear view

© Jonathan Page

Can-Am Traxter HD8 DPS full specs

  • Engine Rotax 779cc V-twin
  • Power 50hp
  • Fuel Petrol
  • Transmission Two-speed CVT
  • Four-wheel drive Selectable two- and four-wheel drive
  • Diff lock Lockable rear and auto locking front
  • Suspension Dual A-arm, 254mm travel
  • Brakes  Four-wheel hydraulic discs
  • Rear bed dimensions  97.8 x 143 x 29.5cm*
  • Rear bed capacity 454kg
  • Rear load height 840mm
  • Towing capacity 907.2kg
  • Ground clearance 280mm
  • Dry weight 646.4kg
  • Turning circle 7.72m
  • Noise, tickover 65.5dBa
  • Noise, acceleration 90.5dBa
  • Downhill loaded grass (60m, 17.5deg slope) 22.9s
  • Uphill loaded grass (60m, 25deg slope) 10.9s
  • Uphill loaded road (1-mile, 7.4deg slope) 1m 38s
  • Tyres Maxxis Bighorn
  • Starting price £12,119

Original Article Farmers Weekly

New Holland adds more affordable models to T7 tractor range

New Holland adds affordable models to T7 tractor range

New Holland has expanded its T7 tractor range with three base-spec Essential-badged models that offer the same performance as existing machines, but in a more affordable package.

The T7.165 S, T7.195 S and T7.215 S offer rated powers of 150hp, 175hp and 190hp and are all powered by a six-cylinder NEF engine. Maximum power on each climbs to 165hp, 190hp and 210hp.

The smallest model is fitted with New Holland’s 18-speed, 40kph Range Command semi-powershift transmission (with the option of creeper speeds) and has a wheelbase of 2,734mm.

For loader work, the T7.165 S comes with a decent hydraulic flow, electronic loader joystick, automatic four-wheel drive, and the option of Custom Steer to reduce wheel rotations from lock to lock.

Other paid-for extras include an LED lighting package, cab suspension, front axle suspension and SuperSteer, which increases the steering angle by 10deg.

Auto pilot: What operators want from automation

Auto pilot: What operators want from automation

 

Automation technology is advancing, but what features do customers actually want? In this article Volvo CE’s Tina Lefebvre, Global Director Connected Services and Koen Sips, VP Customer Solutions, highlight how automated services are making every operator the world’s best.

We talk about ‘automation’ as if it’s a new thing, but when it comes to constrution equipment the progression of automating processes has been going on for years. The automatic gearbox and climate control are just two examples, relieving us of the responsibilities of changing gear or turning the heating up and down. What is now different is that, thanks to advanced technology, the level of operator assistance is set to transform the overall productivity of machines.
Application-specific solutions

As well as improving the machines themselves, such as more efficient combustion engines or hydraulic systems, a new level of technology is focusing on how efficiently a machine is working in a particular job site. For example, with the latest excavator digging machine control systems – such as Volvo’s Dig Assist – the operator doesn’t need to step out of the machine in order to take measurements – because the system will have calculated exactly what material has been taken, from where, and what the levels are. This represents savings in time, money and improved safety.

Semi-autonomy
It’s not just measurement. The next level of assistance is semi-autonomous functions, where the machine actually helps the operator with the task in hand. Staying with the digging example, these systems automatically create a certain level or grade, or preventing digging too deep or raising the boom too high. The machine is basically helping the operator to be at the exact right spot or the exact right depth of digging the hole or trench.
Automated data mining
Even that level of sophistication isn’t the whole automation story. There is another level – where machines ‘talk’ to each other, thereby boosting total site productivity. Machine telematics relay large amounts of data – so much so that it can be overwhelming. What is developing now are active monitoring services that automatically – thanks to the business logic’s algorithms – highlight problems, triggering the sending out of technicians with a detailed diagnosis of a problem and the tools and equipment to remedy it – all with no unplanned downtime. One example of this type of tool is the ActiveCare uptime service, where Volvo and its dealers partner up to detect at a very early stage health problems of the machine and proactively solve those.
Application super-highway
Speaking only for Volvo CE, our Co-pilot platform has been deliberately designed to be a semi-open system. It’s early days, but other people can develop applications that run on Co-pilot. These can be customer-specific, site-specific or application-specific solutions. While it’s limited only by imagination, we do need to introduce these in a controlled way. We are happy to provide the technical highway for others to drive their own solutions on.
New business models
As with technology-driven changes in wider society – such as online music streaming – automation offers the potential for new business models to emerge. Machine control and monitoring systems could in the future be subscription-based or pay-as-you-use. This will provide benefits for both customers and manufacturers. The business model and best way to market these new services is something we are still learning.
Balancing the viable with the possible
Automation for its own sake isn’t viable – it needs to add commercial value for customers and operators. That’s our challenge now – we have all these amazing technologies but the market needs to realize the potential of the technology. We need to be careful – investments are high, and volumes are relatively low. As a result, automation in the construction industry can only move as fast as the correlation between development costs, productivity gains and affordability allow.
The path to greater autonomy
In most cases there is unlikely to be a one-step jump into fully autonomous machines – the journey towards it will come in stages. Most probably there will be a number of (largely repetitive) applications that can be done fully autonomously, while others remain semi-autonomous for the foreseeable future – helping operators avoid mistakes or become more efficient.
The future of the operator: discuss
Operators are around for a long time yet. The role of automation will be to remove repetitive tasks and allow operators to do a better job. Far from deskilling them, automation allows operators to upskill, increase quality and efficiency – and making every operator into the best operator possible.
Conclusion
The advance of automation is inevitable – but is not without its challenges. It involves introducing modern technologies into an industry where working practices have not changed much in half a century. It will involve a mind shift for all concerned.

McConnel launch new Robocut range

McConnel launch new Robocut range

McConnel has a firm reputation for blazing trails with quality, innovation and technology. Now the company is introducing the ultimate in remote controlled machinery with the next generation ROBOCUT range being launched at Saltex.

Designed for the most challenging conditions, the all-terrain capability of the all new ROBOCUT is superior on every level. The range comprises two new models, ROBOCUT RC56 and RC75 which surpass all expectations with an exciting new ground up design which incorporates the very latest advancements in technology. The new models boast more power, an advanced feature set and a revolutionary control system for greater output, safety and control.

ROBOCUT power comes in the form of two new engine choices, 56hp and 75hp, which have been developed in a partnership with Hatz GmbH specifically for working on steep gradients of 55 degrees. New engines provide up to 75% increase in power resulting in market leading power-to-weight ratio. Fuel efficiency has also increased by 20%, coupled with 100% increase in fuel capacity enabling up to eight hours of operation between refills.

A new common chassis design provides a lower centre of gravity and perfect 50/50 weight distribution for maximum stability and control in challenging terrain. Fully integrated, dual roll-over protection bars, quick access lifting points and dedicated accessory mounting points also come as standard.

The new feature set includes, a programmable attachment floatation system, StaySafe flailhead hood control for highway mowing, On-machine Activation digital display for customisation of machine settings, Keyless start technology for improved safety, Daytime running lighting to aid visual orientation at distance, high intensity LED work lights and four integrated LED strobe lights with pre-set ECE compliant sequences.

The new remote control unit features informative, high visibility digital display providing valuable feedback to the operator including machine engine RPM, engine temperature and signal strength. ROBOCUT’s new ROBO-READY battery dock simultaneously stores and charges one of the two remote control battery packs for quick and convenient change over in field for reduced downtime.

The introduction of fully enclosed body panels protect the power unit from damage when working in harsh environments whilst also keeping out grass and debris. The stylised design also incorporates gull-wing style side panels that provided quick and easy access to engine bay.

For the first time GPS Autosteer will be available, developed in conjunction with Trimble, a world leader in a wide range of positioning technologies. GPS Autosteer enables operators to control precise cutting to an accuracy of 25mm from up to 150 metres away, eliminating wasteful overlap with each pass, dramatically increasing productivity.

The new power plants enable wider 1.6m and 1.9m flailheads to be fitted to ROBOCUT for greater output. The popular 1.3m Grass, Forestry and Mulcher flailheads remain available within the extensive attachment line-up.

Retail Price: ROBOCUT RC56 power unit from £46,000

Retail Price: ROBOCUT RC75 power unit from £54,000

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