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AGCO’s Jackson Plant: Better, Stronger, Faster

Imagine taking a brand-new tractor, worth tens of thousands of dollars, and purposefully trying to break it. That’s what the folks at the AGCO manufacturing facility in Jackson, Minn., do just about every workday.

It all happens at Jackson’s Quality Gate Five. The $1.97 million-facility can hold and check two tractors at once, one on the “jounce” and PTO testing station, and the other on a chassis dynamometer.

For the jounce test, a tractor’s rear wheels or tracks are positioned on pads that rock back and forth. This test is used to verify that there are no loose fittings, hoses or electrical connections. Afterward, the tractor is physically inspected to make sure nothing came loose as a result of the shaking, which is so violent no one is allowed to be in the cab.

While still at the first station, the PTO is tested at various speed and load levels, and its output measured across the rpm range. Each tractor is then moved to the second station and the chassis dynamometer. Here, a multi-roller bed is used to verify different functions like the steering, brake, transmission shift quality, DEF functionality and limited powertrain performance.

Six winches hold the tractors in place as they speed up to 33 mph and rev to as high as 400 HP. The dynamometer reads the engine rpm, what gear it’s in and how well it shifts, and when it shifts, how low the rpm goes.

“What we learn,” says Eric Fisher, the plant’s director of operations, “also affects what we do upstream.”

Overall, according to Fisher, the work in Gate Five takes about two hours, and includes 250-plus tests and the analysis of more than 150,000 data points. In just the first month of operation, the inspections, he says, “yielded a 25% reduction in defects, and that’s just a start.”

“Like its customers, AGCO doesn’t embrace technology for its own sake,” says Bob Crain, AGCO Senior Vice President and General Manager, Americas. “There must be a return on investment.”

The expansion and upgrades at the Jackson plant, as well as those throughout the company’s global facilities, offer just that, says Crain, “in the company’s relentless pursuit of its stated goal—to be No. 1 in customer-perceived quality.”

For more on the Jackson plant’s best-in-class quality assurance facilities, see http://www.myfarmlife.com/advantage/agcos-jackson-plant-better-stronger-faster/.

Dairyman’s Digest

It’s tough being a pioneer, but John Fiscalini comes from a long line of them. Scale his family tree, and you’ll find innovation in the Fiscalini DNA going back centuries.

The dairy business is the taproot of that family tree. But the mountains around the Fiscalinis’ ancestral Swiss homeland—the tiny town of Lionza—often made the transport of fresh milk treacherous or impossible, particularly during the harsh winters. So the family turned to cheesemaking as more than added value; it was a way to avoid wasting the work of the family dairy.

“I have milk in my blood,” says John, who with son Brian runs the 1,500-cow Fiscalini Farms at Modesto, Calif., in the San Joaquin Valley. “Going generations back, it’s all dairy, dairy, dairy.” Still, John didn’t bring cheese back into the family business until the turn of the 21st century, this time less as necessity than as craft. At the suggestion of the California Milk Advisory Board, John began attending farmstead cheesemaking seminars and “got roped into the sexiness of it,” he says.

The execution was less than sexy. Cheesemaking was new to California, so even finding the equipment proved a challenge, as did finding the right cheesemaker, an essential partner in the process. But John had the dairy part down pat. Attention to cleanliness and comfort of his cows give John’s renowned cheesemaker, Mariano Gonzales, a blank canvas to “work magic,” as John puts it.

“The milk that John produces—it’s very, very clean,” says Gonzales. “There is nothing in there to interfere with the bacteria I use to create the cheese.” After a dozen years working with that clean milk—the blank canvas—the awards have piled up. Fiscalini’s cloth-bound cheddar has won best cheddar in the world twice at the World Cheese Awards in London—very rare for an American cheesemaker. The dairy’s signature San Joaquin Gold, a smoky, Italian-style cheese aged 16 months, took gold at the World Cheese Awards as well.

Keeping It Genuine

To run their award-winning and innovative dairy, the Fiscalinis rely heavily on their tractors. “Well, we don’t baby these things,” John says of his Massey Ferguson® equipment—all utility tractors in the 80- to 90-hp range. From the newest, the MF491, to the vintage MF285, these are tractors already known for longevity and durability; but John and his dealer Rick Gray from Stanislaus Implement and Hardware still offer tips to keeping hard-working equipment up and running:

Genuine AGCO Parts. “Our guys [at the dairy] do a lot of the maintenance and service, but if something breaks down, we don’t want to put an aftermarket part on there or something that’s gonna be defective or not the high quality we expect from AGCO,” says John.

Good relationship with the dealer. “I’ve known John and his family for more than 30 years,” says Rick. “He is more than a customer. He is part of the family.”

John says the relationship with Stanislaus Implement is generational. “Rick’s father took care of my father,” he says. “They take care of you. The value of these tractors is the support behind them, end of conversation.”

Read the full story, watch the video about the Fiscalini’s digester, access recipes from Fiscalini Farms, and more at http://www.myfarmlife.com/features/dairymans-digest/

Mow It Down

1_12_mower1As a boy, he says he couldn’t get off the farm fast enough. Now, Sherman Barnette dreams of the day when he’ll be able to keep a few horses on his 15 acres near Grenada, Miss.

“The first thing I did when I got out on my own was buy some land and set up a small farm,” says Barnette. “Basically, right now, I grow grass, but I plan to, Lord willing, build a barn and have a few horses.”

Not that there’s any rush, says Barnette, who works for the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. “There’s just enough land that I can take care of it myself. I built a cabin up there and I spend a couple of nights there whenever I can. I get dirty, work on the tractor and cut that grass.” Staying on the land, he continues, “is therapy. It’s a good stress reliever.”

His tractor is a MF3635, and he keeps that grass in check with two Massey Ferguson mower implements purchased from Cemar Inc., in Holcomb, Miss.: a rotary flex cutter and a rear-discharge finishing mower.

“I bought them both at the same time, and I haven’t had any problems with them. Now, I take good care of them, but they’re well built,” he notes.

In addition to mechanical parts that Barnette says cut evenly, “the decks on both my Massey’s are thicker than those other [brands’] mowers. That might not seem like much of a difference your first year or two—they’ll do OK for a short period of time—but then you’ll start to see some damage and rust. These Massey’s are built to last.”

Rick McCorkle, agrees. Now retired, the Hollandale, Miss., resident uses a Massey Ferguson rear-discharge finishing mower and rotary cutter to maintain the two acres around his home, as well as prepare a food plot for deer hunting. He also helps maintain some other property, including his mother-in-law’s.

McCorkle, who runs his mowers with a MF1428—all of which were purchased at Cemar—says he prefers his Massey equipment over other brands. “I’ve had to replace belts more often on one of my other mowers, but only once on the Massey. My [Massey] mowers are 5 or 6 years old, but I don’t have any rusty spots on my deck or bad spots on them. They’re built real good.”

For more information on the full line of mowers and landscaping tools from Massey Ferguson, see http://www.masseyferguson.us/products/implements-attachments.

Challenger E Series Makes a Grand Entrance into the Australian & New Zealand Market

How do you get a tractor into the middle of Australia’s third largest city? Drive it down a river of course!

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Challenger E Series making tracks on the Brisbane River

 

The long awaited Challenger E series made a dramatic entrance to the Australian and New Zealand region, surprising a gathering of Challenger Dealers on the banks of the Brisbane River.

Built upon three decades of Challenger’s tracked tractor leadership, the industry leading E Series demanded an unveiling that would leave a lasting impression with the dealership team and kick off the launch of this exciting new range with a bang.

Local challenger dealers were invited to  a social evening at a restaurant overlooking the Brisbane River in Brisbane’s business district. As guest presenters introduced the new ground breaking E Series with informative presentations and videos, Challenger dealers would have been excused for assuming the evening was following a familiar schedule.

Drifting down the river under the cover of darkness, on a barge set up as a stage, the Challenger E series was poised to disrupt that familiarity.

Arriving at its destination with precision timing, the floating E series nudged closer towards the dealer group now congregating on the restaurant’s balcony and was revealed in a coordinated show of lights, smoke and the beat of ACDC’s thunderstruck.

And thunderstruck the crowd was. The unique unveiling was captured by a contingent of photographers as well as the dealership group and onlookers, with hands quickly diving into pockets in search of iphones to capture the sight.

Speaking after the event, key organiser of the E series launch and Challenger Product Manager Jeremy Duniam said that the evening went as planned.

“There were a couple of dealers that had a suspicion of what was going to happen, but most were stunned when the tractor was lit up and floating only metres from the river bank.”

“It was an exciting way to introduce the exciting new Challenger E Series,” Jeremy said.

A behind the scenes video of the spectacular unveiling will be available soon on AGCO Blog and www.facebook.com/ChallengerAg

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AGCO Brands Win Big at SIMA 2015

This year’s SIMA Paris International Agri Business Show was a triumph for AGCO’s core brands. Massey Ferguson debuted two new tractors and showcased the MF 5610 tractor that journeyed to the South Pole. Challenger’s MT775E was the winner of the “Machine of the Year XXL” award. The new Fendt 300 Vario was named “Machine of the Year” in the category for tractors below 150 hp. And the new Valtra T Series won the “Machine of the Year” award in the 180–280 hp category.

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SIMA is one of the largest indoor agricultural industry shows in the world. This year, the event focused on a theme of “Innovation First!” and brought together 1,700 companies from 42 countries with an emphasis on three key topics: people and territories, equipment and crops.

AGCO embraced innovations in communication by sharing this year’s SIMA experience through social media. Those who weren’t able to attend the show could follow the #AGCO25 hashtag on Twitter and Instagram, and additional news and videos can be found on the company’s social media portal created specifically for the event.

AGCO, now in its 25th year as a global leader in the agriculture industry, had a powerful presence at SIMA as an exhibitor. The company is living the “Innovation First!” concept through its cutting-edge Fuse™ Technologies — a platform that brings together machines, technology products, support, training and dealer services to ensure that farmers’ operations are optimized, coordinated and seamlessly connected through all phases of the crop cycle.

 

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