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New Holland’s innovations reduce costs and increase efficiency


New Holland Agriculture has won both Gold and Silver medals at the SIMA Innovation Awards 2009 for the impressive NH2 hydrogen-powered tractor and the advanced EasyDrive™ transmission respectively. The brand also received a Special Mention for its Intelligent User Interface, a fully-automated combine optimisation system, highlighting the broad scope of innovative technology New Holland develops for the benefit of its customers.

New Holland’s Energy Independent Farm concept

The hydrogen-powered NH2 tractor is a key element in New Holland’s Energy Independent Farm concept, a project that hopes to free farmers from the cost of purchased fossil-fuel and allow them to achieve fuel autonomy. The concept is a natural fit with the brand’s Clean Energy Leader position.

Based on the popular T6000, the experimental NH2 tractor replaces the internal combustion engine with hydrogen fuel cells to generate electricity, which drives electric motors to power the tractor. More than just an idea, the NH2 tractor is a 120hp working prototype able to perform all the tasks of a T6000, while operating virtually silently and emitting only water and vapour.

Hydrogen-powered vehicles have been in development for several years, offering many benefits over battery-driven vehicles, which are efficient only in a stop-and-start cycle and take a long time to recharge. The working cycle of agricultural vehicles is similar to a car running on the highway at a constant speed. Vehicles powered by hydrogen overcome these obstacles by using a compressed-hydrogen fuel to feed automotive fuel cells to generate electricity. Fuel cells have a long working life and avoid the environmental issues of disposing of batteries, which lose their accumulation capacity during their life. Energy-dense compressed hydrogen can be stored conveniently in a tank, allowing the energy to be stored for an extremely long period and the vehicle to be refuelled quickly.

Traditional barriers to the use of hydrogen centre on its distribution and availability. New Holland’s Energy Independent Farm concept envisages customers producing their own compressed hydrogen from water, using a process called electrolysis or directly from methane by burning waste or biomasses. Production systems would be powered by wind farms or solar panels and the hydrogen would be stored at the farm in underground tanks, taking advantage of tractors’ and combines’ short working distance from the farm, when compared to cars or lorries.

Farmers are in a unique position to benefit from hydrogen technology. They have the space to install alternative electricity generation systems, such as solar, wind, biomass or waste plants, and then store that power as hydrogen. Apart from the environmental benefits, such a system would allow customers to become energy independent and improve their financial stability, as fuel costs form a significant proportion of their operating costs now and in the future.

Compact transmission with efficient power delivery

The new EasyDrive™ transmission replaces the hydrostatic transmission on New Holland’s compact tractors, bringing with it quieter operation, better power transmission and greater fuel efficiency. EasyDrive™ will be introduced on the Boomer tractor range but will become available on a wide range of New Holland tractors from 40hp to 115hp, offering big-tractor productivity and ease-of-use features in smaller platforms.

The heart of the transmission is the Chain Drive Variator, comprising a Chromium steel chain running between two variable diameter pulleys. Each pulley consists of one moveable disc and one fixed disc that have sloped surfaces. The discs can be moved closer or farther apart to vary their effective diameter and provide an infinite number of transmission ratios. The SIMA judges were impressed by the way engine power is transmitted directly to the sun gear of an epiyclic gear set and to the ring gear of the epiyclic, via the Chain Drive Variator. This split ensures not all the engine power goes via the variator, improving power delivery and efficiency. The planets are then connected by the output shaft to the axles.

The EasyDrive™ has a speed range of 0.3 km/h to 30 km/h and moves seamlessly and continuously between low and high ratios without any abrupt changes. Sensors are used to measure torque, engine speed and variator speed to control the transmission electronically.

The transmission is operated by a shuttle lever and a Speed Control pedal. The pedal fixes engine speed and the transmission controller maximises forward speed for the applied load. Once the pedal is released, the tractor will decelerate to a stop in a smooth and controlled manner and hold that condition, even if it is on a steep slope.

Three transmission modes allow 30%, 60% or 100% of maximum forward speed to be achieved with the pedal fully depressed, enabling the operator to set the speed range for the current application, while the top 25% of the pedal movement allows the feathering of the forward/reverse clutch for coupling to implements. An automotive-style cruise control allows the operator to hold or fine tune working speeds for fixed speed applications. A useful anti-stall feature can disengage the drive before the engine stalls, ideal when pushing a loader into heavy material.

Intelligent User Interface puts a harvesting expert in the cab

The growing sophistication of modern combine harvesters and the importance of achieving maximum grain quality with minimum grain loss have made the operation of a combine an increasingly skilled role. New Holland’s Intelligent User Interface puts a wealth of harvesting experience at the disposal of the operator, automatically monitoring output and correcting settings at the touch of a button, allowing less-experienced operators to harvest with confidence and assisting them in optimising the combine to achieve maximum performance.

Key operating parameters are continuously monitored and displayed on the IntelliView monitor and compared with parameters set prior to harvesting. Should operation fall outside these preset limits, the operator simply presses the ACS (Automatic Crop Settings) Help button on the IntelliView monitor, and the system will recommend changes to the combine setup. The operator can choose to accept or cancel the recommendation, and if accepted the combine will automatically change the necessary settings.

Grain loss from the separation and cleaning areas as well as the returns volume are monitored. This is further enhanced by monitoring the amount of cracked grain or material other than grain if New Holland’s award-winning Grain Cam system is installed. Drum or rotor speed, concave clearance, sieves settings and cleaning fan speed can all be adjusted by the system to optimise performance.

Once the parameters are set by an experienced combine operator, the machine will not need to be regularly checked. Operators with limited experience can adjust the machine quickly and easily, confident that the adjustments are based on current working conditions and ensuring the highest capacity of the combine is reached.
In contrast to other control systems, the Intelligent User Interface is the only system available that actively suggests and implements adjustments.

New Holland will introduce the Intelligent User Interface in Season 2010, with the CR9000 rotary combines being the first to benefit from the new technology.

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