Re: The push button Combine [ & Tractor ]
Bundybear and other interested posters here; Please don't think for one moment that I own this thread.
It is here for everybody to have a say if they wish too.
If the thread wanders off electronic technology somewhat but still deals with the future of combine and tractor technology and particularly in how that affects the operations and attitudes of the operators and owners, well that's good as it opens up everybody's thinking and perspectives and if some engineers or company executives happen to drop in for a look it just may make them sit back and think a bit about where their company is going in it's headlong rush into the future.
Sometimes this is appears to be without any real thought by the companies as to just what the customers may actually want both here and now and in a decade or two into the future when that combine or tractor has quite a lot of time on but but is still a mechanically sound machine and will be still be in operation if the design is good.
A machine that has stood the test of time with flying colors ultimately leads to return business for companies that intend to still be around in a couple of decades.
Wishful thinking about latter day company executives, most of whom seem to suffer from an excess of hubris but stranger things have happened!
You might also see that I have deliberately refrained from singling out any particular make or color as this subject and the problems are universal to all colors.
It just happens that we are Gleaner operators and so this Gleaner forum is where I gravitated to to start the thread.
This subject in many ways touches on the future directions that the possibly two of the biggest financial outlays you will ever make in your lifetime career as a farmer on just two major disposable items ie; tractors and combines.
Both of which, unlike farming land, wear out, have a limited lifetime and are disposable but are also critical operational items influencing your farming operations and your financial fortunes during all of your farming lifetime.
What I tried to do when starting this thread was to try and look into the future from a farmers and buyers perspective on combine and tractor technology and the feelings that I have about the direction the technology is heading.
At this stage I feel it is quite possibly in the right direction but the manner in which the companies are going about implementing and using this mostly electronic technology advances are just unbelievably bad in the way they are implementing the electronic technology.
In the mechanical realm, they have now become just as unbelievably bad in the totally unnecessary mechanical complication that is the hall mark of at least three of the major combine and tractor manufacturers.
An impression that has just been reinforced when I wandered around our local large regional Wimmera Machinery Field days this week and took a long look at the latest and greatest in combines and tractors.
For an old guy who started harvesting in his mid teens in the mid 1950's and who along with his brother, has modified farm machinery all his life and designed and built a large and very successful pasture harvesting machine, [ Two Rotors Thread & Rolf's R62 photos ] the complication of the modern combines is quite astounding and reflects more than anything the increasing ignorance or "couldn't care less attitude as we don't have to maintain it" attitude of the combine designers of the actual field and maintenance and operating conditions that those combines will experience over their operating lives.
Modern combine and tractor designers seem just plain confused as to the meanings of "sophistication" and "complication".
They seem to assume that a "complicated" machine is a "sophisticated" machine.
To myself and others may differ, a sophisticated machine is also a simple machine but it does everything that the complicated machine will do.
And that simplicity and yet sophistication is something that is extraordinarily difficult to achieve by a designer but is the true hallmark of a very intelligent and clever design and a very good high class design team.
From the operator's perspective a sophisticated but relatively simple machine with a comparable performance to competing and complicated machines has huge benefits in costs of operation, maintenance , repairability [ Regardless of color, claims or anything else, if it shakes, rattles and rolls it will eventually break! ] and simplified requirements to derive the best performance and etc.
It is relatively easy to design a complicated machine today using the three dimensional computer powered draughting programs as everything can be checked on the screen as to whether it will fit into the machine design parameters.
That makes for very lazy designers as adding bits and pieces here and there to achieve another object becomes very easy but results in a difficult to service and maintain and complicated machine.
There is a constant refrain running through this thread and other threads here and I also struck it at our Field Days over this last week and that is the cry for smaller and simpler machines to fill the needs of the smaller farmer and operator.
Only a limited percentage of farms can now afford the newest combines.
I strongly suspect that even less farms can utilise the full production capacity of the latest and large class combines as field size, unloading, more time transporting and numerous other factors strongly influence a single very large machine's productivity as that" theoretical" productivity continues to increase.
Somewhere there is a cutoff or cross over point where the productivity and the increasing limitations imposed by outside factors on the productivity of the large machine crosses over with the productivity of say two smaller machines.
Two smaller machines then have the flexibility that enables operations to continue if one machine has a breakdown or some other factor intervenes and this then comes back to the limits of efficiency I posted on in the above post.
However I would not despair as the big combine manufacturers are just leaving a huge hole in the market at the lower end that somebody is probably already looking at filling by manufacturing a smaller combine.
It could even be that a Chinese, Korean or Taiwanese company has designed a suitable combine and as the Chinese are rapidly mechanising their agriculture and are starting with the small combines, something may just turn up much sooner than most expect.
Or just maybe a small company has brought the rights to something similar to say the L3 Gleaner and will again start production with a number of improvements.
I have observed over my lifetime that when a company or corporation, an organisation or even a unbelievably successful farming enterprise seems to be on an ever ascending trajectory where there is no end in sight to their size, power, success and influence, go looking in the basement for termites.
You will always find those termites in such a company and those termites mean that the limits to that company's success are already in place and may even mean that company is already on the down hill skids.
[ Typical and very obvious examples are Enron and Bernie Madoff but nobody was looking for the termites and very few actually want to or do look when everything seems to be so very successful but that is human nature.]
And I think those termites are already there in a couple of the big combine and tractor manufacturers and they may not be the companies that most of you immediately think of.
And all this post was supposed to be short and at the start was intended to assure other posters that all posts and alternative ideas are welcome here!!!
I would just ask that you be respectful in your discussions and posts as quite frankly, backbiting and aggressive posturing about some very minor and insignificant details does nothing to increase my respect for the posters involved and I suspect my attitude is shared by many who drop in here to have a read about the way other fellow farmers and operators are seeing things.
And I will add that the posters on this thread, after a minor contretemps near the commencement have been very good in their comments in this regard.
And please if you disagree or have some other angle put it up for others to discuss as no single individual has even a small part of all the wisdom and knowledge that exists out there in the farming community.
To be continued sometime!