The 2012 Wheat Run went by faster than ever. Mikael Ekstrom and Andrew Voegeli, two of the four interns who had been traveling with the AGCO Tech Van this summer, gained valuable first-hand experience of the harvest by helping to support multiple combines of the custom harvesters on the run. The Tech Van’s central goal is to maximize uptime and help increase crop yield as much as possible. This year’s dry weather made the harvest harder as much of the crop growth was hindered. The interns noted that although the Oklahoma harvest was plentiful at between 70-90 bushels per acre, farmers in Montana were happy to get 40 bushels an acre as very little rain had fallen over the course of the season.
Surprised by the quality and speed of service, the interns were working hard with the Tech Van crew to ensure the combines were up and running. One situation that involved rotor bearings’ replacement had the Tech Van crew coordinate and work with a local AGCO dealer to get the bearings to the field faster and the combine back up running in a matter of hours. There were even a few times that needed a more in-depth process where an AGCO engineering team was consulted to research how to bring the machine back up to speed. While the engineering team was hard at work, the AGCO Tech Van crew would often find a temporary fix way to get the combine back out in the field, such as using a pickup truck to help jack up a combine that would help the crew until an official repair could be made.
The interns learned a lot about the harvest, gaining people skills with both farmers and custom harvesters. Most importantly, Mikael and Andrew discovered what it takes to support custom harvesters allowing them to take on the grueling task year after year. One of the most important lessons that Mikael and Andrew have learned is the ability to think on their feet. “Problems don’t always come at the most convenient time when the support team is right there. It is how you handle the situation and quickly come up with a solution is what matters the most,” said Andrew. Although Mikael’s and Andrew’s work has wound down, both have gained knowledge and experience that they can take back to the classroom to share with their professors and classmates that can help generate new ideas and solutions for future runs.