Two new test-benches costing 6.5 million euros have been installed at the CLAAS Testing and Validation Centre in Trangé, France, making it one of the most modern and capable facilities in the European agricultural machinery sector. CLAAS Tractor gave the international trade press a unique look behind the scenes at its Research & Development department to mark the commissioning of the new facilities.
Harsewinkel / Trangé. The new test-benches consist of a driveline test-bench for performance testing and optimisation of the entire drive system from the engine, transmission and hydraulics through to the software, and a 4-posts test-bench for assessing and improving the durability, reliability, comfort and design of CLAAS machines.
With the new test-benches, the company is now able to carry out performance and reliability testing on both complete vehicles and vehicle parts with high precision and reproducibility. They will also allow CLAAS to master the challenges presented by increasingly complex agricultural machinery and systems. The company's prototype validation capacity has been significantly increased with this investment. Working around the clock, seven days a week, the test-benches will also help to reduce the time required for endurance testing and, in turn, also reduce product development costs. Naturally, field testing remains an essential part of the process and will still be carried out on our partner farms throughout the world.
Ultimately, farmers will benefit from CLAAS machines which are even more reliable.
New driveline test-bench: A trip around the world in a few hours
The new driveline test-bench allows testing up to a total power load of 2500 kW (up to 500 kW per wheel and one power take-off shaft) to be carried out on CLAAS tractors from the AXOS through to the XERION. The latest technology also allows the reproduction of an extremely wide variety of usage cycles from agricultural practice around the world. Frédéric Cavoleau, Head of the Testing and Validation Centre, explains how it works: "We carry out field testing on our customers' farms: torque, vehicle speed, temperature, hydraulic output. We record between 20 and 100 different values. Based on this data, we can reproduce these usage conditions on our new driveline test-bench as often as we want on one and the same tractor. We can record French, Ukrainian, North American, Australian and other countries' usage cycles and thus cater to worldwide requirements from our facility in Trangé."
New 4-posts test-bench: Ten years of tractor life in just four weeks
The new 4-posts test-bench with its four hydraulic rams which each provide a lift capacity of 25 tons, a maximum frequency of 25 Hz and a maximum height difference of 40 cm is extremely powerful and also versatile because, alongside CLAAS tractors from the AXOS through to the XERION, the facility can also test CLAAS combine harvesters, forage harvesters and balers. This test-bench is able to subject the machines to a complete endurance test under heavy vibration - for example, to optimise the chassis and suspension. The new bench allows the testing of machines under vibration even though the engine and gear are not actually in operation. "We can simulate ten years of tractor life in just four weeks", explains Frédéric Cavoleau. More than 20 different suspension settings can be tested in less than two days for the complete adjustment of the front axle. This allows to omitt some of the more complicated field testings.
From field testing to computer simulation
"The challenge for manufacturers is to test the main functions of a tractor at the earliest possible stage of product development", summarises Christophe Perge, Head of Product Development at CLAAS Tractor. "Computer simulation helps us in this context. It allows us to assess the performance and reliability of our developments as early as possible", explains Frédéric Cavoleau. This is followed by testing on the test-benches, on test tracks and then in the field. At CLAAS, a project can involve more than 40,000 hours of field testing, with up to 7000 hours allocated to a single prototype. "Thanks to our worldwide experience of machine usage in the field, we are able to develop testing programs for the test-benches which are adapted to the different conditions that the machines are subjected to throughout the world. Our insights from field testing are used to further develop our computer simulations on an ongoing basis", explains Frédéric Cavoleau.
Technical aspects of the systems
Both test-benches have been installed in a new 12m-high building and are each mounted on an earthquake-proof floor pad that resists impacts and vibrations. 950 t of concrete and 60 t of steel were used to build the floor pads. The 4-posts test-bench is also mounted on air cushions. At peak load, up to 2.9 megawatts are needed to operate the facility. This roughly corresponds to the energy requirements of a small town of 1000 residents. When it is in operation, the driveline test-bench also acts as a power generator. This energy is reused directly on site, especially for the 4-posts test-bench.
The CLAAS Testing and Validation Centre was built from scratch in 2012 as part of the strategic international development plan for CLAAS Tractor at the Trangé site, not far from the tractor factory in Le Mans. Today it operates with a team of 60 staff who work on up to six projects at any one time. Up to 100 tractors can be tested simultaneously in the testing area of the centre. The facility also has large workshops used for the preparation of prototypes.
With its two existing test-benches at the CLAAS Research Centre in Vélizy Villacoublay, near Paris, and the two new test-benches in Trangé, CLAAS has significantly increased its testing capacity for product development and is thus aiming to further strengthen its position of technological leadership for all of its products.
The AXION 800 tractor model series from CLAAS will be supplemented by two new models in time for the SIMA 2015 trade fair. With the new 800 and 820 models, CLAAS is introducing new additional functions and equipment options across the range and, with the AXION 800 model, which has a power output of 205 hp, CLAAS now offers an additional tractor model between the ARION 600 and AXION 800 model series.
Harsewinkel / Paris. The second generation AXION 800 was launched two years ago at the SIMA trade fair. It was the first CLAAS tractor to meet the requirements of the Stage IV emissions level. Just nine months later at the Agritechnica 2013 trade fair, CLAAS presented the AXION 800 CMATIC with continuously variable transmission and won two international awards in one go: The "Tractor of the Year 2014" title for the AXION 850 and the "Machine of the Year 2014" title for the AXION 800 CMATIC model series.
The company also received an award for its design in the same year, with the AXION 800 model series winning gold at the renowned iF Design Awards. Test reports issued by the German Agricultural Society (DLG) back up these awards with figures: using just 248 g/kWh of diesel fuel, the AXION 850 HEXASHIFT achieved the best result to date of all tractors in its power category in the DLG-PowerMix tests.
With the two new 800 and 820 models, the AXION 800 model series now includes six models ranging from 205 to 264 hp, optionally available with the HEXASHIFT power shift transmission or continuously variable CMATIC variant and with the two operation concepts of CIS and/or CEBIS.
CIS is the basic version with mechanical control units and the CLAAS INFORMATION SYSTEM (CIS) is ideal for customers who require a tractor with fewer electronic controls. Tractors with the CEBIS version (CLAAS Electronic on-Board Information System) are equipped with electronic control units and the CEBIS terminal integrated in the armrest. The CEBIS version includes intelligent headland and implement management functions as well as comprehensive connection options for ISOBUS devices. The functions of both the tractor and the equipment are very simply controlled using function keys in the armrest or the CMOTION multifunction control lever.
AXION 850-800 model series
kW/hp* (2150 rpm)
kW/hp* (1800 rpm)
(HEXASHIFT power shift transmission, mechanical control units, operator armrest with DRIVESTICK)
(HEXASHIFT power shift transmission, electronic control units, operator armrest with CMOTION multifunction control lever and CEBIS display)
(Continuously variable CMATIC transmission, electronic control units, operator armrest with CMOTION multifunction control lever and CEBIS display)
*Values as per ECE R 120, x Available, – Not available
The product range can vary in certain countries. If you have any questions, please contact the CLAAS sales and marketing company or CLAAS importer in your country.
New CIS colour display
On vehicles with standard equipment, the CIS display is integrated into the dashboard and operated from the steering wheel using a rotary button and Esc button. A second black-and-white display on the A-pillar displays all of the HEXASHIFT transmission functions at a glance. For the CIS operating concept, CLAAS is also introducing a colour A-pillar display on the new AXION models, which combines and improves on the capabilities of the two black-and-white displays in a single 7-inch display. With a new user interface as well as additional indicators and adjustment options for the transmission, ELECTROPILOT (electronic joystick for operating 2 electronic control units) and F-keys, the colour CIS display is very similar to that used in CEBIS, which has proven its quality and reliability in real-life conditions. The CIS equipment with new colour A-pillar display is available optionally for all models in the AXION 800 model series as well as the ARION 600, 500 and 400 with power shift transmission.
New additional options
New options are also now available for the AXION 800 and ARION 600/500 model series. Energy-saving LED work lamps are available as an alternative to the xenon work lamps. Thanks to their LED technology, these are particularly long-lasting and also relieve the load on the tractor’s alternator and battery due to their reduced power consumption. New outside mirrors have also been introduced, which can be equipped with a second wide-angle rearview mirror on both sides. Thanks to these wide-angle rearview mirrors, the wheels of a trailer remain in the field of view of the driver for much longer when cornering and thus improve safety on the road or when manoeuvring on the farm.
SIMA 2015: Gold medal and special mention for CLAAS
The winners of the SIMA Innovation Awards 2015 were announced on 27 November 2014. CLAAS won an impressive two awards: the completely new PANORAMIC cab concept of the ARION 400 tractor, which was launched last year and reached the final round of the "Tractor of the Year 2015" competition, was the recipient of one of two gold medals.
Harsewinkel / Paris. The new VARIO cutterbar for combine harvesters also received a special mention.
Gold for PANORAMIC cab
The new PANORAMIC cab distinguishes itself from other cabs thanks to its 2.41 m² windscreen, consisting of the windscreen panel itself and a transparent roof made of polycarbonate. They are connected to each other without a crossbar and thus expand the field of view of the driver far into the roof. This gives the driver a completely new feeling of space, an unimpaired 90° field of view towards the front loader and an excellent view of the entire width of the implement or load.
Félix Garrad, Product Manager of the ARION 400 model series at CLAAS Tractor, explained the special challenges encountered during development of the PANORAMIC cab: "The PANORAMIC cab is ideal for working with a front loader. We needed a solution which, on the one hand, ensured safety and reliability while, on the other hand, doing away with components like the upper crossbar which limits visibility." The CLAAS engineers have moved the conventional front crossbar in the cab roof to behind the transparent roof and braced it very robustly to the frame of the cab. This high-strength design and the unbreakable polycarbonate panel in the cab roof allow the new PANORAMIC cab to fulfil the FOPS standard (Falling Object Protective Structure) and thus ensure safe use even with a front loader.
Since the driver's view of the front loader is not impaired by any blind spots, the driver can always sit in a comfortable position. This avoids all of the repetitive movements which place stress on the neck and lumbar spine of the driver and can cause back problems. The jury found this to be a remarkable development in the areas of prevention, safety, comfort and productivity.
The jury found that the new VARIO cutterbar in the VARIO 930 and 770 models with cutting widths of 9.30 m and 7.70 m for the TUCANO and LEXION combine harvesters offers the required level of technical flexibility to master today's harvesting processes with their regular crop rotations. The crop dividers and rapeseed cutting knives can be attached and detached without the use of tools thanks to the quick-release couplings. The cutterbar table of the VARIO can be steplessly and conveniently adjusted from the cab over a range of 700 mm (-100 mm to +600 mm). Whereas the rapeseed plates previously had to be inserted manually, they are now completely integrated into the cutterbar table on the new implements.
"The new generation of VARIO cutterbars represents the next logical stage in over 50 years of development of adjustable cutterbar tables. The new concept ensures quick adaptation to the grain and rapeseed harvest and is therefore the ideal system for harvesting the respective type of crop", says Matthias Stauffer, Product Manager at CLAAS Self-Propelled Harvesting Machines.
The SIMA Innovation Awards are awarded every two years to recognise innovations in agricultural technology and agricultural services. This year, two gold medals, three silver medals and 18 special mentions were awarded. An international jury made up of 21 experts from the agricultural sector was responsible for deciding the award winners. Additional experts including numerous users, researchers and developers were on hand to advise the jury as required.