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[Source: INEDA, 01.16 | Keywords: Innovations, Technology]

Over the last year we have come across several interesting new products and features. While some havenít made it to the United States yet, it gives us a glimpse into what we may expect in the future. Hereís a brief look at some of the innovative products and services introduced last year.

Ag Equipment Innovations
Research and development into new farm technologies and processes continues to drive agricultural development. Thanks to new technology, farmers can now identify where to specifically apply seeds, water, fertilizer and pesticides to get the most efficient yield, leading to higher crop productivity, lower costs on water and chemicals, increased worker safety, lower chemical runoff, safer growing conditions, lower prices and more. In addition, manufacturers continue to combine this cutting edge technology with comfort and convenience.

Powerful & Maneuverable Tractor Unveiled
AGCO ís Fendt 1000 Vario tractor is not just powerful, but maneuverable and versatile as well. The tractor, with four models from 380 to 500 hp, features VarioDrive transmission and a completely new drive train. With VarioDrive, the front axle can now be driven by a second, separate transmission output independent of the rear axle. A permanent all-wheel drive that does not need to be shifted when going from field to road is another one of many advantages of the new Fendt VarioDrive. Look for it to enter the U.S. market next year.

Planter Integrates Precision Components
The Case IH 2000 Series Early Riser planter is the only planter designed and built with integrated Precision Planting components, providing producers next-generation planting technology direct from the factory. Developed specifically for the 2000 series Early Riser planter, the all-new seed meter and electric drive deliver accurate and consistent seed singulation, populations and in-row spacing for a variety of crop types. Built with heavy-duty cast components, the 2000 series stands up to high speeds and tough, fast-changing conditions. An industry-leading 26-inch toolbar clearance, plus a 60 percent increase in vertical row-unit travel, also helps accommodate uneven terrain without sacrificing accurate seed depth and consistent closing.

Innovative Tech for Tire Inflation Pressure
AGCO’s Fendt teamed up with tire maker Mitas to create a system Mitas calls AirCell and Fendt calls VarioGrip Pro. AirCell is a unique inner tire that enables the inflation of large agricultural tires by +/- 1 bar within just half a minute – more than 10 times faster than the current method of inflation. It not only enables rapid tire inflation, but helps to release the pressure just as fast again as the volume of the outer tire is reduced by up to 30 percent. “Mitas AirCell was developed to reduce tire filling wait times, cut fuel costs, protect the soil, increase the life of the tire and improve handling characteristics during on-road transportation,” said Hans-Ulrich Klose, head of the automotive engineering unit at Mitas. “AirCell brings the advantage to farmers and contractors who need to change pressures quickly from low inflation during field work to higher pressure for better fuel efficiency during on-road transportation and vice versa.” Mitas AirCell will be available starting November 2016.

Methane-Powered Tractor
The alternative fuel technology powering New Hollandís T6 Methane Power tractor offers a promising peek into the future of agriculture, where farms will be energy independent and able to reduce their environmental footprint. New Holland’s T6 Methane Power tractor is a second-generation prototype based on a standard New Holland T6 tractor. What makes it different from current T6 Series tractors, is that it is powered by a natural gas engine manufactured by FPT International, a sister company of New Holland. The T6 Methane Power tractor offers fuel cost savings of 20 to 40 percent and 80 percent lower polluting emissions than a standard diesel tractor.

New Combine Tech Enhances Performance
Claas rolled out some new technology – 4D Cleaning – in Europe that may make it to the U.S. soon. 4D cleaning is designed to enhance combine performance as the machine moves over changing terrain. For example, if the combine angles on a hill, the appropriate flaps will close while others remain open to drive grain where it needs to go for further separation. In action, the system is responsive as sensors determine how grain is flowing through the system. The 4D setup is so integrated to machine sensors that if the combine pitches downhill the fan speed will also change and boost airflow to keep material moving in the right direction. Head back up a hill and the fan slows down.

Calibrating a Granular Pattern
Amazone developed a system called EasyCheck to calibrate the spread pattern of a granular system. Traditionally, applicators carry trays to the field, run their pattern and weigh the results to make sure the system has the right pattern. With this system, a series of easy-to-carry mats are laid in the field. The driver applies over them and, using a smartphone, captures images of the pattern in each. It’s a simple way for farmers to measure if they’re getting the right granular pattern.

Technology Extends Visibility in Cab
The increased size of agricultural machinery has created restricted visibility, especially in the front area of the tractor. With Driver Extended Eyes technology, DEUTZ-FAHR has increased safety, especially on high-power large machines, reducing accidents caused by the wide blind spot in the front area of the tractor. This concept is based on new camera system technology which has an intelligent Control Unit capable of managing up to six cameras. One of the cameras detects humans and calculates the distance to the human obstacle. Additional cameras are used to extend the view of the driver to the left and to the right hand side of the front of the tractor. Look for Driver Extended Eyes technology in late 2016.

Targeted Herbicide Application
AmaSpot by Amazone is an intelligent sensor-nozzle system that detects green plants against the soil, allowing it to apply a precise application that can reduce rates from 20 to 80 percent. Using advanced infrared sensors, an ultra-fast pulse with modulation, and bespoke low-drift nozzles, the AmaSpot is able to detect green plants down to an accuracy of 1 square centimeter.

Wrapping Big Bales with Precision
Kuhn recently introduced the SW 4014 Autoload big square bale wrapper. The machine uses a laser to scan the upcoming bale so the system knows its size and wrapping needs before the system automatically picks it up for wrapping. The machine then deposits just the right amount of stretch wrap on the big bale for storage. The fully-automatic system means the driver can move forward without stopping and wrap a whole field faster.

Mapping Soil Structure
The Topsoil Mapper by Geoprospectors is a sensor system that maps the soil structure of the uppermost soil layers. This soil mapping tool can be mounted on the front hitch of any tractor while performing another task, such as tillage, in the field. While driving, the system maps soil parameters, such as compaction, water saturation and soil composition. The sensor unit, made from highly resistant, nonconductive material, can be used with every operation and is able to constantly collect soil data. Another essential feature of the Topsoil Mapper, besides the autonomous mapping of soil parameters, is the possibility to gain an impression of the soil condition in real time.

Outdoor Power Equipment Innovations
Manufacturers continued to develop creative enhancements and innovations to help differentiate their products from others in the crowded outdoor power equipment field. From lithium batteries and lightweight handheld equipment, to comfortable seating and cutting edge software, outdoor power equipment is not only becoming smarter,
but more efficient as well.

Sharing Data
Husqvarna has designed a prototype of a lithium battery with integrated Bluetooth connectivity – a connected battery. Tools equipped with this new battery prototype will be able to share valuable information to their user and easily be paired with an operator’s smartphone or a smart watch, to provide the operator direct information or to pass on information to other members of the team. Husqvarna Fleet Services (HFS) is an online service platform that supports landscaping professionals with data from smart sensors added on to Husqvarna products. The aim is to integrate the new connected battery with HFS when available to the market. HFS works by attaching a wireless machine sensor to a piece of equipment that then transfers the machine’s data to the cloud service. Fleet Service software then takes this data to determine how productive the company is, when machines need maintenance, when an operator needs more training with a piece of equipment and how much vibration employees encounter. HFS is expected to be available
sometime this year.

A Smooth Ride
Toro introduced the MyRide suspension system, which is available on select models of Toro’s Z Master zero-turn mowers. It features a fully suspended operator platform designed to reduce the bumps encountered while mowing. In addition, it incorporates rear-shock assemblies with five different preference settings from hard to soft.

Trimmer-Line System Cuts Replacement Time to Seconds
Landscape contractors will see productivity gains when using Oregonís new Gator SpeedLoad Cutting System. The system was engineered to eliminate the hassle and frustration of winding line onto spools. It combines a specially designed trimmer head with a patented line disk. The trimmer head is designed as a solid-body piece, with no loose parts, spools or screws. Oregon says its low-profile design provides better visibility and improved line position for trimming. The line comes pre-wound in small, self-contained disks for easy transport and fast loading. On average, changing the disk takes less than 20 seconds. The system is available in three different models designed to fit more than 95 percent of gas-powered trimmer models.

Battery-Powered Tool Enhancements
Stihl made several advances to its battery-powered landscaping tools. In addition to being quieter than gasoline-powered tools, they’re also lighter. The company’s BGA 100 blower is the lightest, quietest and most powerful blower in Stihl’s lineup, weighing just 5.5 pounds. “Quiet operation means greater flexibility on the job,” said Stephen Meriam, director of sales at Stihl. “The BGA 100 allows for earlier start times as well as the ability to do work around commercial buildings during business hours without disturbing the workplace.” The blower runs on lithium battery technology, part of the KombiSystem, which requires no fuel or oil, minimal maintenance, and is interchangeable between 14 tools.

Handheld Power Equipment Technology
Cub Cadetís new line of handheld power equipment uses CORE (Conductor-Optimized Rotary Energy) motor technology to deliver more torque with longer runtimes. CORE’s motor design replaces traditional electric motors and generates torque on par with gas power so the toughest outdoor challenges can be tackled without fill-ups, fumes or pull-starts. By delivering high-torque performance with no dependence on battery voltage, CORE technology establishes a revolutionary standard for outdoor power. The 2016 Cub Cadet Powered by CORE line includes a dedicated string trimmer and a unique system called the Power-Lok system. The Power-Lok system includes a string trimmer, hedge trimmer and blower attachments all designed to fit one standard Power-Lok drive unit. This system allows users to convert the drive unit into multiple tools, saving storage space and cost.

New Zero-Turn Mower Brand Introduced
The Spartan Mower, launched in October 2015, is taking the turf industry by storm. The Spartan features all new Smart Ride Technology [SRT] with middle and rear Elastomer TecsPak® and front neoprene cushioning to absorb shock or jostling. The mower boasts a shock-assisted lift deck, a low center of gravity and angled front forks to allow for a close cut through the straights and turns. Soft ride steel belted radial tires, ergonomic cockpit, and a new brake system allow for a cut, ride, and mowing experience like none other. In addition, the mower also features a LCD Control Panel and Warning Indicators, one of the first mowers to offer this feature. Spartan is currently looking for dealers.

Industrial Equipment Innovations
Industrial manufacturers continue to design products that are durable, efficient and technologically advanced. One driving force behind a lot of product introductions the past year was the move to meet more stringent emission standards for diesel engines. 

3D Grade Control for Compact Loaders
A partnership between Bobcat Company and Trimble has produced the first-ever 3D grade control system for use with Bobcat skid-steer loaders, compact track loaders and all-wheel steer loaders. The new Trimble 3D grade control system enables operators of Bobcat compact loaders to work on complex projects that require digital designs and 3D machine control, allowing operators to work at higher speeds without losing accuracy, increasing valve responses and producing a more robust grading solution. The 3D-ready kit offers better accuracy and ergonomic fingertip controls and works off of elevation coordinates set up around the jobsite, giving operators the ability to grade valleys, ditches and contours.

Controls Operation Software
JCB recently introduced myCHOICE, a controls operation software that gives operators the ability to adjust their skid steer travel and loader controls for optimal operation from finer, more precise work to faster, high-duty cycle operation. “When customers see electronic controls, they expect to be able to modify them to suit their needs, similar to how one modifies a cell phone to match personal preference,” said Kenneth Walton, chief engineer for JCB. “myCHOICE skid steer software allows them to do just that.” Previously, JCB skid steers and compact track loaders featured three control modes. With myCHOICE, a total of six control modes are now available on all new JCB machines – three modes for transmission and three for loader functions.

Intelligent Compaction
Volvo Construction Equipment introduced the industry’s first intelligent compaction (IC) system that measures density in real time. Dubbed Density Direct, the Android-based system’s user interface features a 10-inch touch screen with multi-touch capabilities much like a smart phone or tablet. The Density Direct interface displays a map with color-coded density readings in addition to the numerical reading for density, the number of passes and temperature. Density Direct is currently available in North America on the DD110B, DD120B and DD140B asphalt compactors, with plans for aftermarket retrofits to come later.

Boost Fuel Economy
Kohler introduced three new engines featuring its electronic fuel injection (EFI) technology: the Confidant EFT, Command PRO EFI CH4440 and Command PRO EFI 999cc. Like its other EFI engines, Kohler says the new models deliver a fuel economy boost of about 25 percent over their predecessors. The new engines employ Kohler’s closed-loop system, which uses an oxygen sensor in the muffler to continuously monitor the air/fuel mixture. If the mixture strays from the ideal level, the sensor triggers adjustments to the amount of fuel injected into the system. Kohler says the new engines improve power reliability over their predecessors, as well, adding that because the system replaces a carburetor, issues related to that component are eliminated, including residue buildup caused by using ethanol-gasoline.

Tier 4 Final Wheel Loader
KCMA Corporation announced its first Tier 4 Final Kawasaki-KCM wheel loader, the 90Z7. To meet exhaust emissions requirements, this machine uses selective catalytic reduction (SCR) and a diesel oxidation catalyst (DOC), but does not require the use of a diesel particulate filter (DPF). The new engine is a Cummins QSL9 that pumps out 275 net horsepower. Diesel exhaust fluid (DEF) consumption is about 3 percent of fuel burned, and fuel efficiency is up about 5 percent. The 90Z7 wheel loader also features a high efficiency, 5.5 cubic-yard bucket design that increases penetration and material retention. A flex-shift feature balances speed and rimpull to maintain tractive effort and improve cycle times, while a standard lock up torque converter in second, third and fourth gear helps conserve fuel and improve hill-climbing performance.

Low Repair & Maintenance Costs
Komatsuís Parallel Link Undercarriage System (PLUS) rotating bushing undercarriage is available in three different shoe widths and made with extreme service shoes for maximum wear life and durability, lowering repair and maintenance costs by up to 40 percent in certain applications. The PLUS system provides up to twice the life of a conventional undercarriage, cutting downtime, repair and maintenance costs. “It excels in high-impact, rocky ground conditions and on low-impact sandy jobsites,” said Chuck Murawski, product manager, Komatsu America. “This leading edge track technology is quickly becoming standard equipment on several Komatsu dozer models.”

Multi-Use Rollers
Hyundai Construction Equipmentís lineup of new Series 9 rollers includes two compact tandem-drum models for asphalt paving and maintenance. The models deliver 360-degree operator visibility, up-to-date compaction technologies, quiet and fuel-efficient engines and easily accessible maintenance points. The engine and other components are easily accessible through a wide opening engine hood that provides 270-degree front and side access. The HR25T-9 and HR30T-9 tandem-drum roller models are specifically designed for aggregate paving applications. However, the machines can also be used for soil compaction.