What innovative technologies support agricultural business models? What tools, components and systems can help optimize the functionality of modern agricultural machinery? The Systems & Components area, found within the Agritechnica trade fair at Hanover, Germany, from November 10-16, will address these topics as they apply in the off-highway sector. With the guiding theme of “Assisted Farming – Engineering agriculture through smart solutions”, this international B2B platform will focus on systems that support end-users of agricultural machinery, and their interplay with the upstream and downstream design and manufacturing areas.
Electrification of drivetrains
One of the dominant current trends in agricultural machinery is the electrification of drivetrains. The exclusive use of electric motors is already possible in light-duty operations. By contrast, in medium- and heavy-duty applications there is currently no alternative to internal combustion engines as the main drive solution, although electrification can improve efficiency and downsizing of the combustion engine in a hybrid combination. There is still also substantial potential for operating standard four-cylinder and six-cylinder engines in a more environmentally friendly manner based on fuel choice. Alternative fuels such as biodiesel and e-fuels open up the prospects for CO2-neutral operation.
At the same time, designers are adapting to additive manufacturing, where computer-aided design (CAD) software or 3D object scanners direct hardware to deposit material, layer upon layer, in precise geometric shapes. Commonly known as 3D printing or rapid prototyping, this process has rapidly expanded the possibilities of building three-dimensional objects made of plastic, ceramics or metal. The production of complex geometries with greatly improved material properties, without using molds or machine tools, is now state of the art. One advantage of this is a new freedom in product design, meaning that, for example, tractor joysticks customized to individual customer requirements are now feasible, while the technology could also mean a guaranteed supply of spare parts anywhere at any time.
Condition monitoring and predictive maintenance help reduce downtime
For agricultural machinery manufacturers, condition monitoring and predictive maintenance are at the top of the agenda. Prevention is becoming increasingly important as any unplanned downtime reduces productivity. Thanks to innovative sensor technology, critical incidents and operating conditions with high wear potential can be detected before they occur. Recording and collecting sensor data, and above all interpreting this intelligently with the help of big-data analytics, improves efficiency and operational reliability. Downtime is reduced as the requirement for service technicians and spare parts can be predicted and provided in a targeted manner.
Assisted Farming requires the availability of precise data. Digital platforms are the central module for networking artificial intelligence and digital data. They open up new business models for manufacturers and farmers, but demand a high degree of interdisciplinary cooperation.