Transformers Tractors

Engineers feeding the world. This episode looks at how designers make farm equipment to plow, mow, plant and dig. As always, every story is delivered with Allison and Vince’s wry humor.

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Video: Design challenges in agricultural equipment

Today in our show, (engineers feeding the world÷ - a surprising look at design advances in farm equipment. And one exploding tractor.

What could be more practical than a tractor that can do it all? Designers have added lots of attachments so that farm tractors can plow, pull, lift, mow and dig. That's a lot of flexibility, and a lot of engineering to make sure these systems all work together. At Ameriquip, engineers design all of these attachments and more. The really tricky part is to make them work with most of the major OEM tractors. And to keep up with new tractors as they are released.

This potato harvester goes from road to field and back to the road in just a few seconds. Designers at Grimme (say (Grimmy÷) engineered a series of steps to unfold the harvester once it arrives on site. With the blades down, the harvester is ready to dig the potatoes and load them into the collector bin. Once the job is done, they are back on the road.

To control the various accessories, the interior of today's tractors are a lot more sophisticated. For example this new 2011Fendt 800, has the typical power take offs in the front and rear and hydraulic lift systems, but also includes cameras all around. To control the entire system, the driver uses a 10.4÷ touch screen terminal and a joystick.