At a Case IH product launch in eastern Germany the company demonstrated its latest flagship, the Quadtrac 620, which takes the most powerful production tractor mantle from its predecessor, the Quadtrac 600. As well as the new Quadtrac, the new Maxxum CVX tractors and Magnum 370 CVX were available to test drive in a variety of working situations, and with wheat harvest in progress in the area, the latest Axial Flow combine and round balers were on show. David Williams reports.
Three new Maxxum models, all with continuously variable transmissions (CVT), and 4-cylinder engines were launched earlier this year at Sima extending Case IH’s CVT transmission offering to tractors from just 110hp. Specification is now confirmed with full production due to start in time for Agritechnica in November.
The models include the Maxxum 110 CVX, 120 CVX and 130 CVX, the numbering indicating rated horsepower. The new transmission options mean users can choose from either 16×16, 16×17 or CVT transmissions.
The CVT transmissions provide infinite speed availability from 0-50kph and use double-clutch technology to provide two mechanical speed operating ranges. CVT means that hydraulic power is available across the full speed range and requires less than 25 per cent of total power output.
The new Maxxum CVX tractors extend the range of Case IH tractors available with CVT transmission. The 110 CVX, 120 CVX and 130 CVX offer power outputs from 110-131hp (rated), the 130 model having maximum engine power with ‘Power Management’ of 163hp.
An advantage of the system for transport work is that 50kph can be achieved at an engine speed of just 1,750rpm, and Case IH Automatic Productivity Management (APM), a system already in use on the company’s larger tractors, automatically reduces engine speed if less power is required.
A useful driver aid is the active stop control system which holds the tractor stationary on slopes, whether loaded or not, without the driver having to use the clutch. This feature is particularly useful when pulling away from road junctions as the operator can give his full attention to the road rather than coordinating the handbrake release with the clutch action.
All three models use 4.5-litre 4-cylinder engines with common-rail fuel injection, turbochargers and intercooling. Maximum torque is reached at just 1,500rpm, and the engine management system provides maximum power up to 22hp above rated power, available at higher travel speeds and for PTO work.
An idling speed control system is also provided, reducing engine speed from the standard idle; 850 to 650rpm 30 seconds after the driver leaves the cab as long as neither the electronic remotes nor the hitch is in operation.
Case IH claims that the Surround cab, fitted to the new Maxxums, is the largest in its class. It has a four-pillar design and an integrated roof window which offers a 105 degree field of vision to the front, a benefit for those working with a front loader. The noise level is 69dB, which Case IH says makes them the quietest on the market.
Control layout has been borrowed from the larger tractors in the Case IH range, all important keys and buttons integrated into the right hand armrest. For those requiring precision farming equipment, the AFS Pro 300 or AFS Pro 700 touch-screen monitor can be fitted to the console.
The multi-controller joystick has been improved with a number of new functions, and better ergonomics. Now, only one button needs to be pressed to change the direction of travel, and the buttons themselves have a larger surface area, making it easier to operate by feel, and are back-lit which makes operation safer at night.
Maximum lift at the rear is 7,864kg and at the front; 3,100kg, and the axial piston pump will provide up to 125 litres/min of oil flow. Up to seven electro-hydraulic remotes can be fitted, four at the rear and three in the centre. Previously two oil pumps were fitted, with 113 litres available for the hydraulics, but now a single load-sensing pump is used, offering better efficiency and economy.
A new feature which will benefit those using the front linkage is improved control which allows two hitch heights to be pre-programmed which means that the automatic float regulation system automatically switches to float mode as soon as the working position is reached, a benefit for those operating front mowers and similar equipment.
Farmers Guide took the opportunity to try out the top-of-the-range Maxxum 130 CVX working with a Kockerling stubble cultivator. The tractor was a pre-production example, but apart from a few slightly rough edges inside the cab there was nothing to suggest the finish wasn’t to full production standard.
The internal layout is noticeably improved, the air conditioning controls now above the driver to the right within the cab roof. Almost everything is controlled via the main joystick and having pre-set a suitable working speed, indicated on a small display on the front right hand pillar, all that the operator has to do is to select forward on the main shift lever to the left of the steering column and then push the joystick all the way forward.
Engine speed increases and then as the tractor reaches the pre-set maximum travel speed the engine revs drop back. The CVT transmission was very smooth, and the only occasion on which the clutches could be felt shifting was when the cultivator tines encountered the harder tramlines and the ratios altered as more power was demanded from the engine.
The CVT performed well at each headland turn; and rather than the tractor gaining speed as the implement was lifted from the ground, necessitating the operator pulling back on the speed control, the engine speed reduced and the pre-set speed was maintained regardless of the reducing load.
The cab was comfortable and quiet, visibility was good all-around and there was plenty of storage space for odds and ends, including the notebook and large camera.
The new Maxxum CVX models will be available from January 2014. From January 2015, they will be supplied AccuGuide ready, or with AccuGuide fully installed.
Magnum 370 CVX
Also available to test drive was the latest addition to the larger Magnum tractor range, the most powerful Magnum 370 CVX. This too was a pre-production example, and was hitched up to a large slurry tanker. With a rated output of 367hp from its Case IH FPT 8.7-litre engine the tractor is equipped with electronic power management, and produces up to 419hp.
The new CVX version means customers can now choose between 23×6 40kph with creep and 19×4 50kph powershift options, or the CVT transmission which is available on Magnum tractors from 260-370 rated horsepower.
The CVT transmission uses a combination of hydrostatic drive with four mechanical gear ratios to provide almost seamless shifting from 0-50kph. Forward and reverse shuttle operates through the clutch packs.
The Magnum 370 CVX which has up to 419hp available with peak power boost was available to test drive. A route which included several good slopes provided a good test of the engine and transmission.
The largest 370 CVX comes as standard with a heavy duty Category 5 rear axle allowing tyres up to 2.15m diameter to be fitted, such as the 710/75R42s which were on the demonstration machines.
Front axle suspension is standard on UK specification tractors providing extra comfort as well as ensuring optimal traction.
A load-sensing hydraulic system is provided and, in standard form, provides a flow rate of 166 litres/min, but a Megaflow option provides flow rates up to 221 litres/min and for those with a demand for even higher flow rates; 282 litres/min is a further option, using combined flow from two pumps.
Front PTO is available as a factory-fit option and at the rear 1,000rpm is standard with 540/1,000rpm also available.
The test route involved several miles of uneven farm track as well as minor roads and some reasonable slopes meant some of the advantages of the CVT transmission could be experienced, as well as the tractor’s handling at its maximum road speed of 50kph.
Having selected forward or reverse travel direction with the large shuttle lever to the left of the steering wheel, either the multifunction joystick or foot throttle is used to select the travel speed. Pushing the joystick all the way forward means the tractor accelerates to one of three maximum travel speeds which can be pre-set by the driver. These are displayed, and the chosen maximum operating speed highlighted on the front right hand cab pillar, a button on the joystick used to shuttle between them, or increase or decrease them from 0-50kph.
Operating the foot throttle or pushing the speed control just forward of idle means the tractor pulls smoothly away, and whether the operator is constantly adjusting the speed while on-the-move, or just pushes the lever fully forward the gear change is smooth and progressive. The transmission of the test tractor did allow the driver to feel the mechanical ratio changes as they occurred, but according to Case IH, the changes will be much smoother on the full production machines.
The demonstration tractor was equipped with the optional engine brake feature which meant that when decelerating, whether using the hand or foot control, engine braking was impressive, the system designed to slow the tractor and trailer combination without the use of the brakes. Pulling the hand control back to the speed meant engine revs immediately increased as the transmission shifted down to make the most of the engine braking available.
The same happened when the foot throttle was released, but there is a difference in the way the system operates; the maximum engine speed being considerably higher when the hand throttle is being used than when using the foot control. This meant engine braking was much harsher when driving on the hand throttle than when using the foot throttle and watching the rev counter display showed a difference of several hundred rpm. The reason for the different operating characteristics is that with operators expected to drive using the foot throttle when pulling trailers on public roads, the more gentle deceleration is less likely to lead to a jack-knife occurring.
A new ‘Active Stop’ function was tested out on the route, and allows the tractor to stop on slopes whether laden or unladen without the need for the brakes, the engine and transmission holding the combination. On a steep slope on the test route pulling the hand control all the way back to idle allowed the tractor and tanker to sit stationary until either the hand control or foot throttle was used to increase engine speed at which point the tractor pulled smoothly away.
The Case IH demonstration driver explained that the transmission system is programmed to exactly balance drive through the transmission to match the load so that the tractor doesn’t roll back, or forward, and accomplishes the task without using the brakes at all. A benefit was that as I pulled away, there was none of the feel of the brakes releasing and the drive being taken up which are often experienced on similar systems as the transmission was constantly under load, so progress was smooth and fully controlled.
In autumn 2010 the Quadtrac 600 was launched to the press at an event in Czechoslovakia as the world’s most powerful production tractor. Now the 670hp 600 has been replaced by the Quadtrac 620 with up to 692hp available.
The Quadtrac 620 is the most powerful of three new models.
The Quadtrac was introduced in 1997, the first version with 360hp, and according to Case IH product manager Paul Freeman sales in the UK have averaged approximately 25 per year, with most owners updating their machines every five years. Many have been sold to larger arable users as well as farm contractors. There are now four models in the range, with maximum power outputs from 502hp to the new big 692hp machine. Three new models are available for 2014, a Quadtrac 540, Quadtrac 580 and the flagship Quadtrac 620, replacing the previous 500, 550 and 600 versions.
The three most powerful Quadtracs all use FPT Industrial power units, the engine manufacturer owned by the same parent company as Case IH. The Cursor 13 engines fitted are all 6-cylinder 12.9-litre units, the main difference over earlier power units being the addition of a second intercooler, which is said to aid the thermal efficiency of the engines, and the development of a single electronic engine management box to control engine and emissions performance, where two were required previously. A twin-cylinder fuel injection pump supplies a steady flow of diesel at up to 2,200 bar to the common-rail fuel injection system.
Tier 4 final emissions standards are met without the need for Exhaust Gas Recirculation (EGR), just by the use of SCR (Adblue) and Case IH claims its class-leading system provides a NOx transformation efficiency of 95 per cent, compared to between 80 and 85 per cent for competitor systems. The new exhaust system which incorporates the exhaust gas mixing chamber in which the gasses are treated with Adblue is much larger than before, and the Adblue tank has increased capacity of 320 litres to meet the extra demand during long working days.
The Quadtrac 620 has rated output of 623hp and maximum output from its 12.9-litre straight six, twin-turbo, double intercooled power unit of 692hp.
A precision-regulated combustion process without recycling exhaust gas through the engine means a noticeable decrease in fuel consumption, explained the company. “At present our engines have a ‘brake thermal efficiency’ (BTE) of approximately 46 per cent, which is very good compared with much of the competition,” said FPT operational marketing and communication manager Douwe Hilarius. “Fuel efficiency is becoming increasingly important and our target is to achieve 55 per cent by 2020. Considering that in 1867 the first diesel engine had a BTE of 26 per cent, the industry has gained just 20 per cent in more than 100 years, so we have a lot of work to do, but consider this an achievable target.”
FPT supplies its Cursor 13 engines to other manufacturers for various applications, and a spokesman at the new Quadtrac launch pointed out that an almost identical engine to that fitted to the new Quadtrac is supplied for use in the marine industry, where it comfortably produces 1,000hp, so used in the Quadtrac with its rated output of 628hp and its maximum 692hp, it is easily capable of withstanding the demands.
Fully synchronised powershift transmission is standard, providing 16 forward gears, nine for field work, and two reverse. Maximum travel speed is 37kph, and maximum in reverse is 13.5kph. All Quadtrac and Steiger tractors are equipped with Automatic Productivity Management (APM) as standard, which automatically selects the best combination of gear and engine speed for the work being carried out and when the system is active then all the driver needs to do is to select the desired travel speed.
The large cab has several improvements for 2014 including driver’s seat ventilation and new wide-angle mirrors with electric adjustment and heating. The driver’s seat can swivel by 40 degrees to improve visibility of mounted equipment.
The latest generation of Multicontroller, as on the new smaller model ranges is fitted, and from the Multicontroller armrest up to eight remotes as well as the automatic headland function can be controlled.
The AFS Pro 700 colour monitor is standard and, integrated into the armrest, moves with the seat. It is fully customised to suit the operator and controls key tractor functions as well as the AFS AccuGuide system which is a popular option, especially in the UK.
Visibility from the cab is very good and although, from the ground, it looks as if the large wheelie-bin sized exhaust silencer would be a major obstruction to the front left, in practise it is not a problem being directly in line with the front left hand cab pillar.
HID lighting is available and provides 360-degree illumination around the tractor. Case IH said this provides five to six times more light than conventional lighting and the bulbs will last up to 6,000 hours longer.
Almost all the daily servicing and checks are carried out from ground level. Differences on the new models include a re-located battery, now at the top of the cab steps having been moved to make way for the larger Adblue tank. Meeting Tier 4 final emissions standards has been accomplished without needing a diesel particulate filter (DPF) so there is no extra servicing required.
Precision farming options
Case IH launched its AccuGuide automatic steering system in 2008, and says that now 38 per cent of its Puma range is ordered by European users from the factory ‘guidance-ready’, with the specification almost standard equipment now in Germany and the UK. Puma CVX models are all supplied guidance-ready as standard along with all Magnum tractors and flagship Axial Flow combines. The system remains an option on Quadtracs but the company said almost all are specified with it.
“For combine use, RangePoint is ideal, with accuracy within 15cm,” commented product specialist Paul Freeman. “With it free for the first year it is a particularly attractive option.”
Entry-level system RangePoint RTX is now available for Case IH tractors and combines providing pass-to-pass accuracy of 15cm and repeatable accuracy of 50cm. Said to be ideal for assisted steering, automatic guidance and applications using different working widths RangePoint RTX is GNS-compatible so GPS and Glonass satellite signals can be used with Case IH AFS372 receivers and FM750 or FM1000 monitor screens.
The company said that full accuracy can be achieved in less than five minutes, and that if the correction signal is not available for any reason then AFS systems with RangePoint RTX will continue to operate automatically for up to two minutes, ensuring continuous operation in the field.
Increased accuracy to below 4cm is offered by CenterPoint RTX using a technique known as ‘absolute positioning’, providing what Case IH says is the industry’s most accurate satellite-delivered correction service. CenterPoint RTX is compatible with the new AFS372 receiver as well as FM750 and FM1000 monitors, and the system can use GPS as well as Glonass satellite signals. With an active CenterPoint RTX subscription farmers also receive free of charge access to Glonass, the addition of which improves reception quality for more precise positioning. No base station is needed with the system which extends its versatility and ease of use.
Case IH pointed out that owners of compatible AFS monitors can make use of the new signal by updating their firmware and requesting an activation code from their dealer.
xFill fills in the gaps
Work can continue without interruption even if there is a loss of RTK signal with the new Case IH xFill feature. New technology means that if there is an interruption of the signal, for example, due to the GSM data network becoming overloaded or if the receiver is shadowed, then the positioning system will continue to function for up to 20 minutes, and to do this it does not have to have been operational for a specific period beforehand. As soon as the signal is lost it ‘fills in’ the missing information, providing 1-5cm accuracy for the first five minutes, 6-10cm accuracy for 6-10 minutes and 10-15cm accuracy for the remainder.
Typical drop-outs are less than two minutes, and most often caused by shadowing when working under trees on headlands, pointed out Case IH, therefore for many users full accuracy standards would be maintained at all times.
Latest harvesting machinery
As well as the new tractors, Case IH was demonstrating its latest Axial Flow combines and variable and fixed chamber round balers.
Case IH has invested considerable resources into developing the latest Axial Flow models to suit European harvesting conditions. The new headers are said to provide superb performance in a wide variety of conditions and the availability of tracks has increased appeal to those doing a lot of road work as well as for demanding field conditions.
A top-of-the-range Axial Flow 9230 equipped with the latest 3050 header was on display, and for the 2014 season, users will be able to specify the latest specification header in working widths from 5.0-12.2m (16-41ft). “Getting the header right is key to getting the whole combine right,” said Case IH European harvesting coordinator Paul Harrison. “The latest version of the VariCut header, the3050, is fully adjustable, allowing the user to alter the distance from the knife to the auger by a range of 573mm and we have found users are constantly making adjustments, even in wheat and barley, to suit the crop and the conditions and to increase output.”
A clever feature of the design is a tapered steel slide, on which the reel carrier is supported, and which lifts the reel as it is moved down and forward, holding the rake tines clear of the knife.
For 2014 there will also be limited availability of a Case IH draper header in response to increased interest from customers. “Globally the draper header makes sense,” said Paul, “and with its availability elsewhere we will have it available to order too.”
Paul said that since tracks were introduced as an option last year, at which time a limited number were available, they have proved very popular and for this season 22-23 combines equipped with tracks have been sold in the UK. “They reduce the overall width by approximately 50cm, allowing the 9230 to have a 3.5m overall width and this is attractive to those doing a lot of road work. There are many benefits in the field too, including the lower ground pressure and better traction offered, and with them fitted header performance is dramatically improved through the more stable travel.
“They are quieter and more comfortable in the field and a set of 24-inch tracks costs approximately £28,000 fitted, and we expect between 70 and 75 per cent of the larger model combines to be ordered with them in future, while smaller models are more likely to be supplied on wheels.”
Paul acknowledged that on the road tracks are less comfortable than tyres but he said that at Agritechnica later this year, a track system incorporating active suspension will be shown, which will do a lot to address any comfort issues.
Development work focusing on straw quality has resulted from the extra demand for the product in recent years. Discharge flow has been improved to reduce damage to the swath and to improve efficiency, and for those who alternate between chopping and swathing there is a new option; the ability to swap from swathing to chopping at the touch of a button in the cab. “This makes it much more convenient to swap over and means the operator can swap to chopping if there is an area of poorer quality straw, or when working on headlands,” explained Paul.
Another feature which Paul said is proving popular is the cross auger at the base of the grain tank which provides a constant feed to the unloading auger. “It’s standard on the 9230 but an option on other models, and one of the main benefits is that when topping off the trailer, the operator can leave the unloading auger running, and feed in small amounts of grain through the cross auger. This means that when the trailer is full, the unloading auger can be folded away, empty reducing its weight, and helping prevent any spillage. The flagship 9230 also benefits from a pivot spout and there is an optional 8.8m folding auger, for use with the widest headers,” he added.
The latest Case IH round balers were shown. Launched at Cereals this year the RB455 and RB465 variable-chamber models were developed to handle a wider variety of crops. Features such as a new high capacity pick-up with five rows of heavier duty tines help provide higher work rates in the heaviest swaths.