New suspensions from Claas and New Holland are among the recent upgrades and updates announced by tractor manufacturers.
New Holland Agriculture is introducing an upgrade to the T7 Long Wheel Base (LWB) range, in the shape of a suspended front axle.
The new axle is targeted to ease the operator’s life whilst driving at high speed,.
The combination of new axle geometry, low friction hub bearings, and a new hydraulic steering unit delivers improved feedback and control to the driver.
The self-centring characteristic designed into the axle reduces steering corrections to a minimum, especially at high speed.
In combination, the tractor’s front suspension has also undergone a major update.
To provide improved performance over the wide variation of front axle loads encountered by tractors, a new control valve with dual accumulators had been added.
In situations where the tractor is carrying a heavy rear implement, the new suspension mechanism delivers an 11% improvement compared to the existing design, when measuring chassis vibration.
The T7 LWB utilises a suspension concept known as ‘Skyhook’.
This active system, normally found on sports cars, aims at keeping the tractor level irrespective of external forces.
These forces typically would be an implement being raised or lowered, or the tractor braking or accelerating, actions where weight can be transferred on and off the front axle, causing instability.
The logic employed in the T7 is to momentarily stiffen the suspension if the operator brakes, accelerates, or operates the three point linkage.
The upgraded T7 goes as far as weighing the rear implement, to determine how stiff to make the suspension in order to reduce the risk of excessive suspension travel at high speed. An accelerometer unit within the nose of the tractor monitors any chassis movement caused by uneven surfaces, and continually adjusts the suspension damping.
Depending on operator preference, the suspension can be operated in soft, normal or hard modes, with a greater difference being introduced between the settings, when compared to the current suspension.
For 2018 models, CustomSteer brings a unique variable ratio steering concept to the T7 range. The driver is able to vary the number of rotations of the steering wheel it takes to turn the axle hubs from lock to lock.
There are three selectable settings, ranging from a single rotation of the steering wheel, 1:1, to 2:1, to 3:1.
On tractors with the IntelliViewTM IV monitor, the driver can select their own ratio, and even different ratios for forward and reverse.
Operators will see the benefits of the CustomSteer in a wide range of tasks, such as manoeuvring during front end loader work, or turning faster with less effort on short headlands, whilst ploughing or drilling.
Meanwhile, an aggressive 1:1 setting in reverse makes easy work of the steering when reversing with a trailer.
For control over the steering, the ratios can be changed automatically within the headland turn program, HTS II.
One ratio for working, one for turning at the headland, one for reversing, and all controlled automatically.
For safety at high speeds, any chosen custom ratio is gradually dialled out as speed increases, up to 26kph.
Slow the tractor down, and CustomSteer will automatically re-engage.
In addition to these key updates comes a higher vehicle capacity for the T7 LWB with regards to gross vehicle weight, now as high as 14,000 kg, resulting in higher payloads for customers.
An updated front instrument cluster, featuring white backlighting and blue needles for the gauges, refreshes the front console.
In the IntelliView IV monitor, a new intuitive graphic illustrates the selectable upper or lower engine values that can be chosen for the Auto Command transmission’s working limits.
For drivers wishing to monitor work closely, a camera-ready option allows up to three camera feeds to be connected at the rear of the cab, displaying their images ed on the IntelliView screen.