John Deere the innovation king at Agritechnica

John Deere the innovation king at Agritechnica
John Deere eAutoPowr transmission & intelligent e8WD system

John Deere is the only gold medal winner in the DLG/Agritechnica 2019 Innovation Awards.

The company also won three silver medals for its innovations.

A total of 291 innovations were entered in this year’s award competition. The Agritechnica Innovations Jury awarded one gold and 39 silver medals.

The Gold Medal went to the John Deere eAutoPowr transmission and intelligent e8WD system for the 8R Series large tractors, developed in partnership with Joskin.

Stepless transmissions with a hydrostatic-mechanical power split have been used in agricultural tractors for over 20 years.

Up until now, additional generators for electric drives with a higher power requirement were installed on tractors (fan, compressed-air/air conditioner compressor, etc) or on implements.

The eAutoPower gearbox for the 8R large tractors from John Deere represents the first electro-mechanical power split gearbox in agricultural technology.

Technically, the hydro unit (pump/motor) is completely dispensed with; instead, two electric motors are used as a continuously variable actuator.

The electric motors have been specified so that they not only supply the drive, but can also provide up to 100 kW of electric power for external consumption.

The resulting possible tractor-implement electrification is demonstrated with a system solution for spreading slurry developed together with Joskin, where two axles on a tridem spreader are electrically driven.

Used in combination with an axle drive on a slurry spreader, the results in practical use include, among other things, higher traction, reduced wheel-slip and improved track guidance on side slopes.

On the tractor side, this electrical integration results in improved gearbox efficiencies and reduced maintenance costs.

In addition, the surplus power flows occurring at certain operating points can be “tapped” when utilising electric power for external electrical components, which further improves the overall efficiency.

The all-new John Deere eAutoPowr is the first electromechanical split-path infinitely variable transmission.

The tractor manufacturer says it provides maximum reliability and durability compared to other gearboxes.

The integrated generator delivers up to 100kW of power for external applications, and for implement electrification.

Throughput controller

Predictive Feedrate Control
Predictive Feedrate Control

John Deere won a Silver Medal for its Predictive Feedrate Control combine harvester technology.

Throughput controllers on combine harvesters cannot react to changes in the harvested crop conditions until the material is already in the harvesting header, in the intake duct, or in the threshing unit.

Extreme changes in harvesting conditions, such as lying crops, partial gaps and weed areas, result in correspondingly high over-loading or under-loading, and combine driving speeds that change too drastically.

The throughput controller is then often deactivated.

John Deere solves this problem with its proactive throughput controller, using 3D stereo cameras which detect the crop situation in front of the combine.

Crop heights, lying crop with lying direction, gaps, driving lanes, and harvested areas, are detected and classified by so-called “machine learning”.

In addition, the system uses the data of vegetation models, which consist of biomass maps generated via satellite or other technologies.

Camera or biomass signals can alternatively be used alone.

As soon as the combine begins harvesting, the system calculates regression models from the real-time and the geo-referenced vegetation data.

The harvesting conditions in front of the machine are therefore known, as are the strategies specified by the driver.

The combine harvester merges all sensor values and then adjusts its driving speed and its settings to the harvest situation. The proactive combine harvester operates automatically for the first time, just like a combine harvester operated by a proactive, experienced driver.

With this technology, John Deere has taken a major step in the further development of the automation of harvesting.

It is the first feedrate control system which combines two proactive input sources from GPS satellites and cab mounted sensors, a self-learning technology that uses forward-looking perception information as well as crop data.

The system allows the combine to react to changing harvest conditions and particularly to special situations such as a lodged crop.

John Deere says it offers an unprecedented level of rate control productivity, combined with significantly improved operator comfort in all harvesting conditions.

Big baler vibration damping

Intelligent large square baler ride control
Intelligent large square baler ride control

Another John Deere silver medal winner is the intelligent vibration damping for large square balers, which have achieved major importance in agriculture, thanks to the high transport and storage density of plant material they deliver.

However, due to high inertial and pressing forces, these big balers induce vibrations that subject the tractor cab to unpleasantly strong pitching movements, which put a strain on the tractor driver.

With intelligent vibration damping, these vibrations are almost completely eliminated on models of the John Deere 7R tractor series in conjunction with balers from John Deere.

Based on the signals of the acceleration sensors in the GPS receiver, and other signals within the tractor, the continuously adjustable drive is adjusted with the plunger frequency of the baler, so that a periodic change of the speed setting compensates for the vibrations created.

No additional hardware is required for this purpose.

This technology specifically developed for active vibration reduction means a considerable relief for the health and performance of tractor drivers.

Without it, periodic fluctuations in power and torque can cause significant tractor pitch vibrations, which puts considerable strain on the operator.

The innovation includes a self-learning control algorithm.

Combine efficiency package

Another John Deere silver medal winner is the Efficiency Package for Large Combine Harvesters.

John Deere aimed to optimise all the critical functional areas of the combine, to significantly enhance overall system efficiency.

A lean drive concept with innovative drive belts makes this possible, while reducing power requirements.

Further efficiency gains have been achieved in the engine, transmission, separation and ventilation systems, and the straw chopper.

Overall, these efficiency improvements have led to a significant increase in harvesting capacity, using the same engine power and with losses of less than 1%.

This performance is delivered in the majority of harvesting conditions without the need to continually fine-tune the combine settings.

Compared to walker combine harvesters, a further increase in performance on more powerful rotor combines is limited by the physical size of the machine.

As a result, for further performance increases, the construction volume must be used more efficiently, and the entire machine designed for a higher efficiency.

This includes not only drive assemblies, but also all other assemblies, from the intake duct to the chopper.

When developing its new dual-axial rotor combine harvester, John Deere has not only revised the assemblies for threshing and separating, but also all other performance-determining assemblies, while taking maximum efficiency into account.

The goal of the design was to obtain maximum performance stability, with unaltered machine settings wherever possible, under difficult harvesting conditions.

This begins with an identical pivot point of inclined conveyors and feed drums in order to always keep the feed angle identical relative to the rotors.

This includes a completely new, slim, belt-based drive concept that enables a transport width of 3.5 m to be adhered to, with a current maximum duct width dimension of 1.72 m, and 710 mm front tyres.

The dual-axial rotor threshing and separating concept was designed for maximum straw throughput and performance stability values.

John Deere the innovation king at Agritechnica

Especially during cleaning, great importance was placed on the discharge of large air volume flows, including via the straw distribution technology, in order to minimise the air counter-pressure, and maximise air separation.

The optimisation ends at the chopper, by replacing the familiar angled blades with so-called “dented” blades, with a golf ball air-flow effect for maximising the air volume flow.

The overall design contains all currently known technical measures for maximising the efficiency of a combine harvester. These then result in a reduced input, with maximised threshing output and therefore efficiency.

“John Deere invests more than 5% of its sales in research and development, and the medals demonstrate our innovative strength,” said Dennis J Docherty, John Deere’s Vice President of Sales and Marketing for Europe, CIS, North Africa, and the Near and Middle East.

“We are particularly proud of our ongoing collaboration with industry partners and service providers. Partnering and system openness are the main success factors for the further digitalisation of the farm industry.

"Our company is developing innovative solutions that allow farmers and contractors to make more profit from their field operations.”

“We have strengthened our worldwide network of research associations, and all John Deere’s product platforms as well as the European Technology Innovation Centre at Kaiserslautern are significantly involved,” said Martin Kremmer, Director of ETIC Kaiserslautern.

“We also benefit from our collaboration with universities and research institutes when it comes to advanced technologies such as artificial intelligence, automation systems and electrification.”

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