Banner
Steel
Monday | 30 January, 2012 | 10:03 am

Building lighter, stronger agricultural equipment

By Lynn Stanley

High-strength steel combine harvester design earns award

January 2012 – Developing lighter equipment with steel may sound like an oxymoron, but that’s exactly what engineers Kent Brown and Corwin Puryk did when they designed the header and draper for a new combine harvester for John Deere Harvester Works, East Moline, Ill., a facility of Deere and Co. Brown and Puryk combined high-strength steel with a new design to reduce the weight of key components on the harvester by 50 percent, increase load capacity and improve productivity by as much as 40 percent. The design also allows the harvester to meet new engine emission requirements.

In November, John Deere won the Swedish Steel Prize 2011 for its design. SSAB, Stockholm, established the prize to promote and educate industries about high strength steels and the potential to develop lighter, stronger, sustainable products. SSAB is a global leader in value-added, high-strength steel and is the parent company of SSAB Americas, Lisle, Ill., the leading supplier of steel plate in North America and Latin America.

Breakthrough design
Conventional approaches to harvester designs have tended to counterbalance increased header or draper weight with material added at the rear of the combine for stability. Brown and Puryk took a different approach. The two engineers considered aluminum initially but determined the material couldn’t handle the forces generated if a single control arm on the harvester was required to manage the weight of the entire head. Switching to thinner plate and lighter materials wasn’t sufficient to meet the weight reduction goal. “It was soon very clear to us that high-strength steel was a requirement for us to achieve our goals,” says Brown.

The engineers looked at locations on the header and draper where strength and fatigue were critical properties. SSAB’s Domex 700MC advanced high-strength steel allowed John Deere to switch from standard Grade 50 steel to Grade 100. More than 100 components were made with the new steel.

“For small grains and soybeans, the float arms of the HydraFlex draper platform are located under the wide belts feeding the cut grain to the feed drum and into the combine feederhouse,” says Puryk. “The arms are attached to the harvester in the back on the platform. At the front edge, the arms are loosely attached to the cutting mechanism, which allows the arms to carry the weight of both the grain and the platform while following as close to the ground as possible during operation to minimize loss of crops. The arms also help stabilize the conveyor belt. The design is unique and a key factor in making this harvester more efficient than other machines on the market.”

Global impact
The draper’s float arms originally were made of 6-millimeter thick standard steel, and welded together to form a closed structure. The new arms are formed from 2.5-millimeter high-strength steel. Although the reduction in thickness is significant, engineers were able to optimize the design of the float arms to take advantage of the advanced steel’s higher strength. “Stamped parts, less welding and simpler assembly allowed us to achieve the economic targets by a wide margin,” Brown says. “They gave us cost savings that offset cost increases in other areas of the machine.”

The combine harvester is also a breakthrough in terms of customer perception. “Farmers rarely regard lower equipment weight as a benefit,” Brown adds. “In this context, weight often represents strength and stability, but our development team sees the new combine harvester as a breakthrough for new ways to design agricultural equipment.”

The lighter machinery will save fuel, reduce pressure on the ground and increase load capacity. The new combine currently is in full-scale production at John Deere Harvester Works; however, the equipment already has racked up thousands of test hours in the field along with accelerated fatigue tests to ensure the machine carries the same high level of quality as its predeccessors. According to Brown and Puryk, the project also has a global impact. “The world population is growing dramatically,” they say. “To ensure enough food can be produced to feed people in the future, greater efficiencies in agriculture are a necessity. The new combine and front-end equipment can increase productivity by 15 to 40 percent.” MM

 

 

Current Issue

MM-Cover-10-14-current

October 2014

ON THE COVER: 
Gearing up for 2015
Tackling foreign policies, regulations, trade balances and capital plans, here are forecasts for virtually everything.

MM-Digital-button-current1

Subscribe: PRINT/DIGITAL MAGAZINE - eNEWSLETTERS

Midwest-MM-home-ad-5

Advertisement

Modern Metals on Twitter

White Papers

More White Papers >
Banner

Industry Partners

Alloy Bar Products

Custom Rubber Products

Metals Distribution

Service Centers

Sierra Alloys Royal Rubber Co. ThyssenKruppnMaterials NA Heidtman Steel Products

Aluminum

Cutting Software

Perforated & Expanded Metal

North American Steel Alliance
Channel Alloys SigmaTEK Systems McNichols Co. Reliance Steel & Aluminum Company

Bar

Cutting Systems

Plasma Technology

Thickness Gauges

Gerdau Messer Cutting Systems, Inc. ESAB Welding & Cutting Products Compusource Corporation

Bevelers

Drilling

Plate

Enmark Systems, Inc.
Steelmax Hougen Manufacturing, Inc. Allor Manufacturing Inc.

Stainless Steel

CNC Cutting (Plasma, Waterjet, Laser, Router)

Financial Services

Artco Group Stainless Sales Corp.
Multicam Inc. BMO Harris Bank Churchill Steel Plate Ltd Straub Metal International

Coated Coil

GE Capital Finance Ranger Steel

Stainless, Nickel, Aluminum, Pipe, Tube & Bar

American Nickeloid Metals

Investment Banking

Precision Grinding

Prudential Stainless & Alloys, L.P.
Centria Coating Services Brown Gibbons Lang & Company Joco Precision Grinding

Steel

Metal Coaters

Laser Technology

Profiling Software

ArcelorMittal

Coil Processing

AltaMAR, Inc. FastCam Pty Ltd. Central Steel Service, Inc.
Bradbury Group Amada America, Inc.

Rolled and Extruded Aluminum Products

Parker Steel Co.
Braner USA LVD Strippit Aleris Rolled Products SSAB
Burghardt + Schmidt GmbH Mitsubishi Laser-MC Machinery Systems, Inc.

Sawing Technology

Summit Steel Corporation
Butech Bliss

Machining Centers

Behringer Saws, Inc.

Steel Fabrication

Formtek-Maine Handtmann CNC Cosen International, Inc. Voortman Corporation
Herr-Voss Stamco

Material Handling

Cut Technologies Metal

Titanium

IMS Systems, Inc. Canrack Metal Center Systems DoALL Sawing Products TSI Titanium
Leveltek Samuel Strapping Systems HE&M Saw

Tooling

Machine Concepts Steel Storage Systems Inc. Kasto Carlson Tool & Manufacturing Corp.
Red Bud Industries The Caldwell Group, Inc. Metlsaw Systems

Tube & Pipe

Tishken

Metal Alloy Analysis & Verification

Sawblade.com Independence Tube Corp.

Copper & Brass

Thermo Scientific Niton Analyzers Scotchman Industries, Inc. National Tube Supply Company
Christy Metals Inc.

Metal Finishing & Deburring

Wikus Saw Technology Specialty Pipe & Tube
Farmer's Copper Supermax Tools

 

Turnkey Finishing System

 

 

 

Intellifinishing

 

 

 

Waterjet

 

 

 

TECHNI Waterjet

TrendPublishing

twitter facebook linkedin rss

 

MM-10-14-brandingcovers