A large farm in eastern Germany, during late August, was the setting for the press launch of the Optum models from Case IH
The announcement of a completely new range of tractors by a major manufacturer is a rare event, but a large farm in eastern Germany, during late August, was the setting for the press launch of the Optum models from Case IH. David Williams reports.
The event also included the latest Axial Flow combines, with major updates announced for the smaller 140-series machines, and there were performance upgrades for the company’s large square balers, but the star of the show was the new tractor, designed from scratch to fill the gap in the range between the largest Puma and smallest Magnum models.
Optum CVX tractors
The new range, to be displayed for the first time at Agritechnica this November, will consist of just two models initially; the Optum 270CVX and the Optum 300CVX, with 270 and 300hp (rated).
Case IH explained that the new models satisfy demand for a Puma-sized tractor, but with considerably more power and lift capacity, and share little with other models in the range apart from their cabs, from the latest Pumas, and the front axle, taken from the smaller Magnums.
Production of Pumas began in 2007, and the current generation Puma CVX was introduced in 2009, the range topping out currently at 240hp (rated). The larger Magnum has been in production since 1987 with models available from 250-380hp and both ranges have been very successful. “There is a requirement for a tractor which has plenty of power, and is capable of transferring that power down to the ground, but which is compact enough for transport work, and is light enough for top work,” explained Case IH product marketing manager for higher horsepower tractors, Dan Stuart. “Operators are spending more hours in the cab, and comfort and ease of use are essential qualities too. Professional operators take a pride in the results they achieve and in the tractors they drive and the new Optum is an ideal machine for modern productive farms.”
Both models are powered by 6.7-litre FPT Industrial engines and, as the standard transmission is CVX with no other option, Case IH’s Power Management is not required, so maximum power is available in all situations. The power unit is similar to that of larger models in the Puma range, but enhancements include a completely new cylinder head and valves, capable of withstanding the extra stresses. The sump is now part of the tractor’s structure negating the need for a separate chassis or side rails, and this helps minimise weight.
Variable output turbocharging has been used previously but, for the first time, Case IH is using a turbocharger with variable vane angles, controlled electronically. Providing a faster response to changing conditions than twin turbos, this single-stage turbo technology helps the tractor meet Tier 4 final emissions regulations through Hi-eSCR, using just Adblue with a catalyst to help remove harmful emissions.
The exhaust system also contributes to a highly effective exhaust brake, which has been shown in tests to provide a braking force equivalent to 30kW. When applied, injection of fuel is stopped, an exhaust flap closes and the variable-geometry turbocharger’s vane angle is set to maximum. At the same time, the Visctronic cooling fan, with variable vane pitch, is also set to maximum to increase engine retardation. The exhaust brake system is optional, but its performance is likely to appeal to those carrying out a lot of transport work, particularly when operating in hilly areas as it is claimed to avoid significant heat build-up in the rear axle during braking, and to reduce wear and tear on the braking components.
The engine cooling fan has additional features besides being able to vary its air flow. A new feature, developed for the Optum CVX, is that the variable-pitch vanes can angle to an effective ‘reverse’ position, to blow out the radiator in dusty conditions. This can be programmed as a function within the new headland management system, so that the cooling radiators are blown out during every headland turn, without intervention from the operator.
The CVT transmission uses four mechanical gears and a double-clutch drive system to provide lock-up across the speed ranges for optimal efficiency. Mechanical and CVT ratio changes are all fully automatic. Transport speeds of 40kph and 50kph are available, both with Eco modes allowing engine speed to be decreased when power isn’t needed. A creeper speed down to 30m/hr, independent of engine speed, is provided.
Hydraulics and PTO
As would be expected of a modern high performance tractor, hydraulic and PTO performance are excellent. Four PTO speeds are provided; 540rpm, achieved at 1,930engine rpm, 540Eco, achieved at 1,598rpm, 1,000, achieved at 1,912rpm and 1,000Eco, achieved at just 1,583rpm. The Optum CVX also features a high specification front PTO, likely to be standard on UK machines, and this is the first to provide two speeds as standard; 1,000rpm, achieved at 1,886 engine rpm and 1,000Eco, achieved at 1,585rpm. Maximum power output at the front is quoted as 204hp.
Standard hydraulic pump capacity is 165 litres/min, achieved at 2,100 engine rpm, but a high-flow pump offering 220 litres/min is an option. A large 148-litre capacity reservoir is provided, the transmission and hydraulic system sharing the same oils. Maximum take-off capacity is 70 litres, and a very thorough oil filtration system means changes are necessary only every 1,200 hours.
Hydraulic lift capacity is 11,058kg at the rear and 5,821kg at the front, and a redesigned rear fender provides space for larger rear tyres, to handle the power and weight, and also means external linkage operating buttons are easily accessed, even by shorter operators.
The tractor wheelbase is 2,995mm, (just 100mm longer than that of the Puma 240 CVX), and space has been provided to accommodate large 2.15m diameter rear tyres. Engineered to handle high draught stresses, the rear axle has a double reduction drive unit and is available in fixed or sliding flange wheel mount types. The front axle is in-house produced and is used by smaller Magnum models. Both axles are dual wheel compatible.
Even with large 710/75R42 tyres fitted, overall width is under 3m, making the tractor far better suited to transport work than the larger Magnum.
Unladen weight is approximately 11,000kg and maximum gross vehicle weight is 16,000kg, providing plenty of opportunity of ballasting options to suit the application.
“Saddle-type’ front axle suspension is standard, using two hydraulic cylinders each offering eight degrees of oscillation and 110mm of vertical travel. The system is ‘active’ providing a rapid response as soon as movement is detected.
Anti-lock braking is an option, and there is a further upgrade which assists during headland turns by applying the inner wheel brake, but which automatically prevents the wheel locking, preventing brake and tyre wear, and soil smearing.
Fuel tank capacity is 630 litres, easily enough for at least 12 hours of work at 75 per cent load and Adblue capacity is 96 litres.
The latest Puma cab, used on the Optum is spacious and comfortable with excellent visibility all around. However, for the Optum, it is improved with cab suspension as standard and a premium range of seat options to choose from, including a dual-motion seat with swivel headrest, and adjustable lower seat cushions and armrests, as well as heating and ventilation in fabric and leather finishes. Despite the upgrades, the cab interior will be immediately familiar to current operators of Case IH CVX tractors, as the manufacturer has worked hard to maintain a common interface with other models in the range for ease of operation.
Most Optums will be working long days during busy times of the year and, while even the standard lighting package is significantly improved over the Puma’s, there are three options available offering up to 20 LED lights.
The Case IH AFS Pro 700 display is standard, and all Optums are supplied AccuGuide ready. Isobus Class 2 is standard and Class 3 is available as a factory-fit option, allowing the use of compatible implements which can control tractor functions such as steering, forward speed, hydraulic lift, PTO and rear remote spools. For tasks such as baling, this automation is claimed to increase productivity by up to nine per cent and provide fuel use savings up to four per cent due to efficient use of speed variation and optimum feeding rates.
A further upgrade is 2nd generation headland management (HMC11), which allows sequences of commands to be stored for each implement including tractor target speed, engine speed, front and rear PTO activation, PTO brake switch-off, remote hydraulic spools, Accuguide functions, front axle suspension and 4wd and differential lock activation. Triggers to control the functions can be distance or time-related, or can include hitch position, front PTO or rear PTO activation and direction shuttling.
An option is tyre pressure monitoring, which covers up to 16 tyres, including those of the tractor and an implement. The system will indicate when any of the tyres is operating outside of preset pressure parameters and an integrated tractor airline can be used to increase pressures if necessary.
Telematics are available in either Basic or Advanced subscription packages, and allowing up to 80 parameters to be visible and reported. “Demand for remote documentation is growing,” explained Den, and being able to send data direct from the machine to the farm office is seen as an increasing benefit. In addition, it provides a ‘virtual dashboard’ view which allows operators to gain assistance with settings for implements and tasks.”
The new Optum CVX is claimed to have the longest service intervals in its class, with engine oil and filters needing a change at 600 hours and the hydraulic filters due at 600 hours, and oil at 1,200 hours.
There was an opportunity at the event to try out the new Optum CVX tractors, in the field, with a Vaderstad Opus 6m cultivator and, on the road, with a large tri-axle trailer. Access to the cab is good, and there is plenty of room for two people with the large passenger seat provided. Visibility to the front is very much as in the Puma, with a relatively short bonnet allowing an excellent forward view. The controls all fall easily to hand, and the test tractor was set up with the latest headland management system, which had been set up to automatically control the tractor speed as well as implement functions at the touch of a single button on the control joystick. At the end of the bout the button was pressed, the implement raised and the travel speed dropped to the required 8kph. Guided toward the position for the next bout, the button was pressed again and the automatic steering took over, the implement dropped into work and the engine speed increased to provide the pre-set working speed.
On single-track roads, the high cab position and decent rear view mirrors meant it was easy to keep an eye on the large trailer and the CVT transmission responded well to the speed commands set by the foot throttle or joystick, using automatic productivity management (APM) to select the appropriate engine speed and transmission ratio for optimum efficiency. The Maximum and minimum engine speeds can be set on the engine throttle lever, which is along-side the main control joystick. The Optum has reactive steering which is certainly a benefit on the road, with steering returning naturally to centre once the steering wheel is released.
The cab was quiet, the seating position and general comfort good, and it was easy to feel at home in the tractor very quickly. “Being a brand new tractor range, we engaged in a comprehensive consultation process regarding the features and design,” explained Dan. “As well as long-standing Case IH users, we spoke with owners of other brands, and believe the Optum will easily compete with anything else available in this power class. Inevitably, some Optum purchasers will be existing Puma and Magnum owners, but we hope for at least 80 per cent conquest sales, with users moving from other brands. It is a segment in which we haven’t offered a tractor previously, but one which is becoming increasingly important and this tractor’s performance, efficiency, flexibility and ease of use will definitely appeal to operators.”
Production of the Optum tractors is due to commence in late September, with shipping to the UK of a limited number of machines, due in October. The official launch of the new range will be Agritechnica in November.
Combine harvester updates
Since its launch in 1977, the Axial Flow combine harvester has remained faithful to its single rotor threshing system. “It has proved popular for its simplicity, grain quality, grain savings and crop adaptability,” explained Case IH vice-president for Europe, Matthew Foster.
“Out of total combine sales, conventional models account for approximately 70 per cent, while rotaries have 30 per cent of the market, and Case IH Axial Flow combines make up approximately 20 per cent of the rotaries sold. Now, with our latest models, we are aiming to achieve a minimum of 25 per cent of rotary sales within the next five years.”
In recent years Case IH has invested heavily in productivity developments for its larger flagship models but, at the German launch event, all attention was on significant updates to the small-medium-sized 140-series models.
The 140-series includes three models; the 5140, aimed at smaller arable and mixed farms, the 6140 which features a more powerful engine, and the most powerful model in the 140-series, the 7140, which is aimed at medium-sized farms keen to achieve maximum output from their harvesting operation.
Power for the latest models is provided by FPT engines; the 5140 fitted with a 6.7-litre version delivering 312 maximum horsepower, while the larger 6140 and 7140 models each have FPT 8.7-litre engines delivering up to 400 and 449hp respectively. All meet Tier 4-final emissions regulations using Adblue.
Externally, the new model labeling is the biggest indicator of new separation technology inside. The ‘Cross Flow Cleaning System’ is totally new and operates automatically, as required. It provides compensation for cross-slopes up to 12 degrees, by adjusting the sieve action to maintain an even flow across the total surface area. When no grain is entering, for example if the operator stops the combine due to a table blockage, or when unloading on the headland, the sieves immediately return to their standard operating action, saving wear and tear on components. The sieve action is controlled by a movement and angle sensor beneath the operator seat.
Feed to the sieves is improved and uprated, with a 6-auger conveyor running faster than, and replacing the previous 5-auger system. The augers run at a constant speed, ensuring even feed to the separation system.
With more grain to handle through the improved separation system, the latest model combines are equipped with higher capacity elevators and a larger 10,570-litre grain tank, on 6140 and 7140 models. Emptying the tank is also improved, with a pivot spout now optional on the unloading auger, allowing the operator to accurately direct grain into the trailer.
Greater flexibility of straw handling is provided, with a push-button changeover from swathing to chopping. This means the operator can easily respond to variable straw quality across a field, or chop the headlands and swath the field centre, at the touch of a button either in the cab or under the right-side service cover. The speed of the chopper can also be easily altered to suit the conditions, without any tools or belt changes needed.
With popularity of rubber tracks increasing, Case IH has introduced them as an option on the 140-series combines. Manufactured for the company by Zuidberg, they are available in 610, 762 and 900mm versions, with all except the widest allowing the combine to maintain a road transport width under 3.5m. The company claims that the 76cm tracks will allow a 140-series combine fitted with a 9.3m header, and with a full grain tank, to exert a ground pressure of under one bar, helping reduce compaction and ensuring the ability to travel even in difficult operating conditions.
One of the biggest improvements for the operator is an all-new transmission. “Gone are the days of gearlevers,” said Matthew Foster. “We have the best cab in the industry by far, and the latest updates improve it further still.” The new transmission, based on the system used in the larger 240-series machines, has two ranges; one for fieldwork and the other for transport, selected using a rotary dial on the right-hand control panel. Next to the rotary switch is a 2-position rocker switch providing Hi/Lo selection of the 2-speed hydrostatic transmission. When the high speed transmission is specified and Hi-speed selected, the transmission will automatically respond to the loads by shifting between Hi and Lo and giving the feeling of a CVT transmission. The new models also feature higher travel speeds, increasing their appeal to contractors and larger farms with outlying land. The larger two models are equipped with 30kph transmissions while the smaller machine is limited to 25kph.