AGCO officials cut the ribbon Aug. 16, 2013, celebrating completion of a two-year, $40 million revitalization project to equip the Hesston, Kan., manufacturing facility with the latest finishing and paint technologies.
“We fully understand how important a high-quality finish is to our customers and dealers, and the impact it has on machine life and resale,” says Bob Crain, senior vice president and general manager for AGCO North America. “That is the reason we invested in this new E-coat and powder paint facility. It is the most advanced and extensive coatings application center in the North American agricultural equipment industry today, and we’re excited to start using it!”
The electrocoat (E-coat) and powder paint processes at AGCO are equivalent to those of the automotive industry and provide a thorough, consistent, durable finish on each part, enhancing the overall quality and longevity of the final piece of equipment.
The new 200,000-square-foot state-of-the-art dip and powder-coat paint facility consolidates AGCO Hesston Operations’ two paint stations into one streamlined, efficient building. Parts for all products manufactured in Hesston will be painted and finished there before being assembled into final products. Nearly 75 percent of parts will go through the 17-step E-coat process, which involves dipping parts in a series of solutions that remove all rust, scale and laser oxides, then applying a high-performance corrosion- and weather-resistant finish comparable to that used in the automotive industry. The E-coat primer is applied using a high-voltage and high-amperage charge for 180 seconds, ensuring thorough coverage. After curing in one of 10, 375-degree F ovens, parts receive a powder topcoat with one of five colors, then another final oven cure.
The remaining 25 percent of parts, including gearboxes and drives, components that cannot withstand heat, and parts that are best painted after they are assembled, will be painted using a liquid coating system.
Farm equipment has been built in Hesston, Kan., since 1947, and today, the Hesston manufacturing facility builds Hesston by Massey Ferguson hay harvesting equipment; Gleaner, Challenger and Massey Ferguson combines as well as White Planters; and its nine manufacturing lines produce as many as 45 pieces of farm equipment per day, depending on the season. Today, with more than 1,400 employees, AGCO is the largest employer in Harvey County and much of the surrounding area.
“There are only a few things we can control,” says hay grower Brett Bunker about farming. “So anything I can do to give me an advantage, I need to do it.”
Bunker says he gets the edge he needs with AGCO Buffered Acid Hay Preservative and his HayBoss G2™, a precision monitoring and automatic preservative application system. Both help guarantee his hay quality by dealing with moisture levels in his bales. They also help him maintain his growing cycle of four crops a year on the 1,000 acres near Delta, Utah, where he and his family grow alfalfa to sell to dairy farmers.
“If I get too much dew overnight, I can still bale and get my hay out of the field with a little higher moisture. Or if I need to bale before a rain and push it a little bit, I can do that instead of letting the storm hit, then letting it dry back down again.
“The quicker I can get hay off the field,” adds Bunker, “the better the hay and the quicker I can get growing on the next crop. [HayBoss] can save me anywhere from a half a day to even on the outside of five days.”
“Often, the producer can’t wait for things like the dew to dry, and we understand that,” says Jeff Roberts, president of Harvest Tec, the company that manufactures HayBoss and AGCO Buffered Acid Hay Preservative, and markets them through AGCO Parts. “The main benefit with HayBoss and the preservative is that extended operating window, by raising the level of moisture at which hay can be baled.”
Roberts adds that HayBoss provides the producer peace of mind. Its moisture monitoring and application offer accuracy unmatched in the industry, and they work seamlessly with Hesston balers.
“The AGCO Buffered Acid Hay Preservative is also made with the same care and consistency. That makes it far more reliable than other brands and totally safe for animals, the environment, the operators and their equipment.
“With HayBoss,” Roberts continues, “the grower gains confidence that their window is expanded into the upper ranges … as high as 27% moisture for large square balers and slightly higher for round and small square bales. That,” he adds, “has the potential to be a good contributor to overall profitability.”
In 1978, Hesston Corporation introduced the Model 4800, the industry’s first large square baler, revolutionizing hay production and feeding practices at a time when labor availability and fuel prices were driving a need for innovations on the farm. Big square balers have come a long way since then, and on May 16, 2013, a large crowd gathered at AGCO’s Hesston Operations to celebrate the 25,000th large square baler built in Hesston, Kan.
Credit for the big baler idea is generally given to Allen White, who spent more than 25 years as a company engineer. White started his research by building a giant bale chamber in the engineering lab and manually packing it with hay. When the 4-foot-by-4-foot bale did not get hot or spoil, engineers went on to build the first prototype baler. They quickly realized that the side-feed approach currently being used would not work, and in 1975, the first prototype that fed hay into the bottom of the bale chamber was built.
After extensive field-testing, the Model 4800 was perfected and released in 1978. Field testing and working with farmers to meet their needs have always been a hallmark of equipment development at Hesston. These productive balers proved to be a more labor-efficient and economical way to harvest, store and feed forages.
Today, balers built in Hesston are sold in as many as 39 countries and used to bale everything from alfalfa and grass hay to wheat straw, miscanthus for biofuel production, and even recyclables such as newspaper and aluminum cans.
“It is amazing to look back at all that has gone into today’s big baler models,” says Dean Morrell, product marketing manager, Hay and Forage. “Building the 25,000th baler is an invigorating milestone and a great tribute to everyone who has been involved in its development. I know there will be even more innovations in the future large square balers built in Hesston.”
Tomorrow, May 16, the 25,000th large square baler will roll off the assembly line at the AGCO facility in Hesston, Kansas USA and be presented to its new owner. Here are a few fun facts about the large square baler to help kick off this historic event
• The first large square baler — the Hesston model 4800, produced at the AGCO facility in Hesston, Kan. — was introduced in 1978.
• Nearly 50 individual patents were awarded to the original baler.
• There are at AGCO 15 employees who were involved with developing and building the first large square balers and are still working at the Hesston facility today.
• Together, they have 610 years of experience working at the Hesston facility, with tenures ranging from 36 to 49 years.
• Large square balers built in Hesston have been sold under the following brand names: Hesston, New Idea, Massey Ferguson, Fendt, Challenger, Case IH, New Holland and AGCO.
• They have been used to bale everything from alfalfa and grass hay to wheat straw, miscanthus for biofuel production and even recyclables such as newspaper and aluminum cans.
• Large square balers manufactured in Hesston have proudly been sold and delivered to customers in as many as 39 countries all over the world.
• Hesston by Massey Ferguson Models 2170XD and 2190 create bales that are 4-feet x 3-feet or 4-feet x 4-feet, respectively, and can weigh up to a ton.
Whether you choose large-round, large-square or small-square bales, making high-quality bales that preserve hay quality, maximize protection from the weather, and are easy to store or transport boils down to following a few rules.
The first, and most basic rule, is simplest of all: “Get out of the tractor, and check your baler and the first bales from a field to make sure adjustments are right, so the density and shape of the bales are correct,” says Dean Morrell, AGCO Product Marketing Manager for Hesston by Massey Ferguson hay products.
“The biggest mistake people make is moving too fast when they start baling. They don’t get out of the tractor to verify that everything is right, and if it is not, to tweak adjustments until it is,” he says. “The same rule applies to cutting, conditioning and raking. It’s a missed opportunity if you don’t get out of the tractor cab.”
Adjusting a baler to produce high-quality bales is relatively straightforward, says Morrell. Of course, by starting with windrows that are uniform in width and in the amount of hay they contain, producers help ensure bales are consistent in shape and density. Also, windrows that are as large as possible to meet the baler capacity help minimize the amount of loss during the baling process when hay is at its driest and most subject to leaf loss from handling.
Operating manuals provide a full rundown on how to set balers to make dense bales that are consistent in size and shape. Here are Morrell’s quick tips for doing the job right:
• Set baler pickup tines about one inch above the ground. This helps prevent contaminating the hay with dirt, which raises ash percentages and reduces digestibility. Baler wear and tear caused by picking up stones also is reduced or eliminated.
• Set the hay pickup flotation so that the pickup follows the contour of the ground at or just above the tine height setting. If the tines aren’t digging into the dirt, the flotation setting is about right. Regularly check the hay pickup for bent or broken tines and replace them as necessary. Be sure to stock up on replacement parts before the hay season begins.
• Synchronize the field speed and the baler pickup speed so the hay is lifted from the windrow and flows into the bale chamber. Pickup loss is lower when windrows are heavy because the baler is operated at a slower field speed, and there is less contact between the hay and the baler components.
• Bale chamber loss, particularly of the valuable leaves, is typically two to three times greater in round balers compared to square balers. To minimize bale chamber losses in round balers, the feed rate should be as high as possible to minimize the number of turns the hay makes within the bale chamber. This can be accomplished by using large windrows and high forward speeds. Since pickup losses are normally lower than chamber losses, it’s usually better to have some pickup loss by driving faster but reducing the amount of time it takes to form the bale.
• Monitor bale density. Even if your baler has a density gauge, it is still critical to get out of the cab and “thump” bales to verify that the density is high enough so that bales hold their shape and provide maximum protection from the elements. “You really don’t want to be able to stick your fingers into the bale,” Morrell says. “If you kick the bale, it should hurt your foot.”
• Follow drive directional arrows on the baler monitor to make sure hay is fed consistently across the width of the bale chamber so bales have square shoulders. This helps round bales shed moisture, and improves stacking attributes of square bales.
• Hay moisture at baling is a critical factor in determining superior hay quality and long storage life. Assessing moisture before baling depends on whether it is stem moisture or moisture from dew. The moisture present from dew will seep through the hay to some degree, while stem moisture will not. When the stem moisture is too high, spoilage can occur. Moisture at baling for large square bales should be no greater than 12 to 15 percent; for round bales, no greater than 16 to 20 percent; and no greater than 18 to 20 percent for small-square bales. The exception to this rule is when hay preservative is applied during baling, which allows hay to be baled with moisture content up to 30 percent.
• To reduce leaf shatter and resulting nutrient losses, avoid baling when hay moisture is too low.
• Make sure all operators know how to adjust the baler for top quality.
• Keep up to date on regular maintenance to ensure peak machine performance. Be sure to visit your local dealer to stock up on pickup tines, common bearings, chain repairs, belts, shear bolts and other common repairs before the hay season starts to minimize downtime from common breakdowns. Dealers often have a list of recommended parts for on-farm stocking and may offer preseason discounts for parts purchases.
Hesston has been providing innovation and solutions to farmers since 1947, and is the industry leader in hay-harvesting products. For more information about Hesston by Massey Ferguson products or to find a dealer near you, visit hesston.com.