Power on the land
Mike Williams reports on the latest tyre and track developments in the ag industry.
The arrival of tractors on rubber tracks in 1987 was the start of a major success story, and their increasing popularity has provided an opportunity for Global Track Warehouse or GTW to offer a specialist service supplying replacement tracks to customers in the UK and Ireland.
GTW is a leading international manufacturer of steel reinforced rubber tracks. The business started with tracks for industrial equipment, but this was recently followed by a major expansion into farm equipment tracks. Its delivery service for the UK and Ireland covers retail and trade customers, operating from a warehouse in Essex and supplying friction drive tracks covered by a four-year warranty, with two years’ protection for positive drive tracks. Selling under the Tuff Trak name, the tracks are currently available for Agco Challenger. Case IH, Caterpillar, Fendt, John Deere and New Holland tractors plus Claas and Grimme harvesters, and there are also tracks for trailers. As well as selling new tracks, GTW also operates a collection and disposal service for used rubber tracks, providing an official certificate of disposal in the process.
Recent tyre developments include eight additional sizes for the Mitas Very High Flexion or VF HC range, including tyres for sprayers, high horsepower tractors and for combine harvesters. They can be used at low pressure for fieldwork to reduce compaction, while offering up to 40 per cent more carrying capacity than a standard tyre for roadwork. There are three new HC1000 series sprayer tyre sizes, four additions to the HC2000 series for tractors and the 580/85 R42 size in the HC3000 CFO series for combine harvesters is designed for a 50kph maximum speed with 2.8 bar nominal pressure and an 8,750kg maximum load.
The winner of one of the gold medals awarded at January’s Lamma machinery show was the Traxion Optimall VF tractor tyre series from Apollo Vredestein. The awards are for innovation, and the Optimall tyres for high horsepower tractors were selected for design features that produce a claimed 7 per cent increase in productivity and a 7 per cent reduction in fuel consumption. A unique carcass structure allows the tyres to operate with up to 25 per cent lower inflation pressure and a 15 per cent increase in footprint area compared with some VF rated tyres. Optimall tyres are available in 10 sizes and they are suitable for use with CTIS or central tyre inflation systems. Apollo Vredestein tyres also include the recently extended Traxion85 series with a 50kph speed capability for mid-range tractors, and special tyres for self-propelled combines and forage harvesters are offered in a range of 11 sizes.
The Trelleborg range offers one of the most comprehensive tyre choices for the farming industry including 21 different tractor tyre series plus a further 12 for trailers and implements. The tractor series include tyres for special applications including the TM100 rowcrop range, special Marshland tyres for working in wet ground conditions and a High Speed version of the TM700 and TM800 tyres with 65kph capability.
Technology advances include the Variable Inflation Pressure, or VIP feature, for combine harvester tyres which operate with frequent load changes as the grain tank fills and is emptied. When commercially available, VIP will allow pressure adjustment from the cab and maintain a constant footprint by adjusting the pressure automatically to compensate for load and temperature changes.
The Michelin CargoXBib range of special tyres for farm trailers has been extended with additional specifications including the new Heavy Duty version. A special feature of the CargoXBib series is the all-over tread in a block pattern designed to provide an efficient self-cleaning action, plus stability and good handling characteristics for travelling on and off the road. The flat crown with solid, rounded shoulders helps to reduce scrub when steering on grass and provides even wear for a long life. The Heavy Duty tyres have a similar load carrying capability to standard tyres, but the reduced inflation pressure helps to minimise soil damage and surface rutting.
Biggest tyre supplier
With more than 50,000 vehicle tyres fitted each year, the Treadfirst Tyres & Exhausts company based in Sudbury, Suffolk claims to be East Anglia’s biggest tyre supplier. Its service provides tyres for all types of vehicle and includes a comprehensive range of agricultural tyres covering specialist vehicles such as telehandlers, ATVs and self-propelled harvesters as well as tractors and trailers, and it also provide a specialist supply and fitting service for rubber tracks. The Treadfirst tyre fitting service operates from centres throughout the region, all of them featuring a comprehensive range of specialist equipment, and as well as tyre replacement the company also provides a range of vehicle maintenance and repair services.
Stocks Ag is the UK’s biggest manufacturer of special wheels for tractors and agricultural machinery with a range that includes dual wheels and rowcrops as well as non-standard wheels. Dual wheel rims are 7mm thick and the power rail is continuously welded for strength. The spacer bands are up to 6mm wide, the eyenuts are made of drop forged carbon steel with clamps designed for ease of fitting. Rowcrop wheels also have 7mm rims and the flanges are 15mm thick. The wheels are made at the Stocks factory in Cambridgeshire and include special wheels for equipment such as combines and forage harvesters plus telehandlers and sprayers, the tractor wheel range includes sizes for compact tractors, and Stocks can also make one-off wheels to meet non-standard requirements.
Axles for agricultural and industrial applications as well as wheels and associated equipment are the ADR Tyremart speciality, available through a nationwide supply service from its Nottinghamshire based headquarters. The AdrAgri range includes rigid axles with load capacities from 500kg to 30t, said to be the widest range of EU approved axles available, and they also offer the Dual Mode steering axle series suitable for use in both controlled and self-steering applications. Tyremart was established in 1979 as a specialist supplier of axles and steering systems, and customers can benefit from the advisory service offered on the selection of running gear based on 40 years of experience.
Specialist and bespoke wheels from Stocks Ag
Founded over 40 years ago, Stocks Ag is the UK’s largest manufacturer of specialist and bespoke wheels for agricultural machinery, including Stocks Dual Wheels and heavy duty Flange Rowcrops, both unique to Stocks.
Manufacturing in the heart of the Fens, the company designs and builds many other types of wheels for high speed agricultural vehicles, as well as combines, telehandlers, loaders, self propelled and trailed sprayers, forage harvesters, compact and amenity tractors, forestry machines and trailed implements. Stocks wheels are specified as original equipment by several manufacturers and used extensively by farmers in the UK and abroad.
All its wheels are built in its Wisbech factory to a superior level of quality and finish, says the company, and all comply with ETRTO (European Tyre and Rim Technical Organisation) standards.
Stocks offers two base designs of standard tractor wheel and two base designs of row crop wheel – bolted adjustable centre disc or welded fixed centre disc. Both designs use high-quality rims and heavy duty centre discs formed from special steels and will be the strongest available – rims up to 8mm thick and heavy-duty discs (18/20mm) are available and flat-plate (25mm thick). Centre bores, stud holes and nut seats are precision CNC machined to ensure a perfect fit to the tractor hub. Rotational automated welding machines ensure perfect welds, and a high quality two-pack colour matched paint finish completes the wheel.
Tyres and tracks collected for recycling
Lincolnshire based Envirotyre UK Ltd was founded in 2002 to provide a reliable and competent collection and recycling service for a variety of tyre users. It is now well established as one of the leading tyre recycling companies in central and eastern England.
Envirotyre is the only waste tyre disposal company in the county to have a full Environment Agency Permit. It processes tyres used on bicycles to earthmovers, and everything in-between, as well as construction and agricultural tracks. The team at Envirotyre has many years’ experience and its fleet of lorries and vans are ideal for any scrap tyre collection.
Waste tractor and truck tyres have been processed by Envirotyre since the company launched. It can manage contaminated and mixed loads, and any size or weight is accepted. Farmers are offered daily, weekly, fortnightly and monthly collection options. Envirotyre also provides rubber sidewall covers for silage pits which have many advantages, including being incredibly cost effective.
Envirotyre says that it can collect the full range of agricultural tracks from any site in England, using its own fleet, adding that it has a fully calibrated weighbridge on-site.
The business says that its prices are the best in its operating area, calculated either by tyre or per tonne, whichever suits. Discounts are given to customers who want bulk tyre disposal or who deliver their used tyres to its site.
As a fully compliant business, Envirotyre offers customers full traceability and peace of mind, it adds.
New entrants agricultural track market
With more than 20 years’ experience in the industrial track market, Global Track Warehouse (GTW) is a newcomer to the agricultural supply industry and as such is offering competitive prices.
The company uses premium rubber compounds to extend track life. Wide and deep tread lugs are designed to offer increased traction and better mud release while decreasing track cutting, ground disturbance and vibrations. The company’s joint-less technology and one-step vulcanisation of the tread bars, drive lugs and track carcass results in increased adhesion strength and minimises tearing on of the bars/lugs, it says. It has an improved heavy-duty, 4-layer internal cable system to reduce punctures, abrasions and carcass distortion.
GTW says that its 6.5mm high-tensile main cables exceed the requirements of modern high-horsepower machinery and greatly increase tear resistance. Increased flotation and decreased compaction allows the machine to work in wet soil conditions, while increased ground power results in lower fuel usage, lower vibration and the ability to use larger attachments.
GTW stocks a wide range of tracks for Case, Challenger, Caterpillar, John Deere and New Holland, with many more models currently in production. The company provides a 4-year warranty on friction-drive machines and two years on those with positive drive.
Tyre choice boosting productivity
Riviera Produce, which supplies some of Britain’s top supermarkets with fresh vegetables, has praised its Taurus tyres for helping it boost productivity – delivering great tyre life and reliability versus other brands it has trialled.
Operating 365-days/year, its fleet of 40 New Holland tractors collectively farm more than 2,025ha across Cornwall, which makes it vital to fit cost-effective and durable tyres.
And since using the Taurus fitments, they have found each set delivers an average of 3,500 hours split between field and road operation before needing to be replaced – more than any other replacement tyre brand it has tested.
Riviera Produce farm manager, Wayne Simmons, says: “We manage our tractors extremely carefully to ensure we get the maximum life out of every set of tyres we fit. As soon as the original equipment rubber has worn out, we switch to Taurus replacement tyres and it’s really helped to bring our tyre costs down.
“The scale of the operation means our tractors are doing a lot of road work, but the performance we get is superb. Plus, by specifying only two types of Taurus tyres across the fleet it makes it easy to swap machines and tyres between applications to balance out any wear issues.”
Supplied by Taylors Tyres in Redruth, Riviera Produce fits the predominantly 18.4R38 and 14.9R28 Taurus Point 8 tyres on its tractors for planting and harvesting work, and the 65-series Point 65 for ground work and cultivation.
These radial ply fitments offer impressive flexibility and strength which allows the tyres to absorb impacts and deliver a more comfortable and stable ride; a benefit recognised by Riviera Produce’s operators.
The radial construction also helps to optimise fuel consumption, as each tyre’s wide footprint distributes pressure more evenly on the ground to reduce soil compaction. This helps to guarantee optimum traction leading to improved productivity.
Taylors Tyres owner, Matt Taylor, says: “We have been working with Riviera Produce for more than 20 years providing the company with everything it needs including our 24/7 breakdown service. Coupled with the reliability and longevity of Taurus tyres, we help it meet its customers’ demands all year round.”
Taurus tyres are manufactured in Michelin Group factories within Europe – each meeting stringent environmental and quality management standards, and are distributed by Kings Road Tyres, the exclusive UK wholesaler for the brand.
Wheel specialist provides tracked alternative
For most farmers there are obvious advantages to running their tractors and other machinery on tracks – helping to reduce compaction, improve soil health and increase yields.
Essex-based BWT (Brocks Wheel & Tyre) is able to help due to a new branch of the family run business focussing specifically on tracks and tracked undercarriages.
From its base in Thaxted, Essex, BWT has grown to become the UK’s largest, dedicated agricultural wheel and tyre distributor, says the company.
The new division specialises in providing retrofit undercarriages from Canadian manufacturer Soucy and Italian manufacturer Poluzzi. BWT has already supplied undercarriages for several tractors, combines and even a Challenger Terragator, it points out.
Replacement tracks are also available from BWT. Director Percy Brock says: “We have completed rigorous testing in varied conditions across Europe, from Scotland to Romania, with some outstanding results. We are offering the premium Soucy and Bridgestone tracks as well an own brand option.”
The range is suitable for most models from leading manufacturers including Challenger, Case IH and John Deere.
Mr Brock added: “BWT is a long established family business and tracks are significantly contributing to the next stage of our growth.
“We have sourced a selection of robust tracks and undercarriage units from leading manufacturers across the world. For combine harvesters and tractors, UTVs to self-propelled sprayers – whether its 50 or 600hp, if farmers need tracks, we can help!”