Press Releases   May 13, 2015

John Deere and Michelin showcase best tractor practices

Today’s farmers have access to machines that offer unprecedented levels of technology to help enhance agricultural productivity. To what extent does operator knowledge affect the performance of a tractor which features fully automated engine transmission settings? This and other questions were answered when six tractor drivers from six different countries took up the European Drivers Challenge, jointly organised by John Deere and Michelin.

Earlier this year, hundreds of European contractors from Germany, France, Spain, Portugal, the UK & Ireland and the Netherlands applied to take part in the European Drivers Challenge via John Deere’s web page. The selected winners representing their home country were then invited for a two-day visit to the Michelin Technical Innovation Centre Test Circuit in Ladoux, France, close to Clermont-Ferrand. This is one of the world’s largest vehicle test centres, featuring 19 test tracks with a combined length of 41km (25.5 miles).

To compete in the challenge each participant operated his own new John Deere 6215R AutoPowr tractor, pulling a 20-tonne Joskin twin-axle trailer. The tractors were equipped with MICHELIN MachXBib tyres, with the trailers featuring MICHELIN CargoXBib High Flotation tyres. Before the challenge began, each driver had to select his own strategy of tractor settings and tyre inflation pressures.

Unlike a typical race, it wasn’t the fastest driver that made it to the podium; the winner was the contestant with the best overall strategy to achieve a short transport time with the lowest possible fuel consumption and the least soil compaction in the field. In addition, a special handling course had to be completed. Again, only the driver who completed the task and achieved the lowest fuel consumption, the fastest cycle time and the least soil compaction with no failures during the handling operation was chosen to be the ultimate winner of the challenge.

The range of tasks was designed to represent the typical daily challenges that today’s contractors constantly face. Time and money matter – that’s why state-of-the-art technologies help tractor drivers to manage fast transport cycles while keeping fuel consumption at a low level. John Deere’s intelligent power management (IPM) technology helps the operator to accelerate faster in transport applications and to maintain high speeds even on uphill climbs.

Furthermore, the fully automated engine transmission management system keeps the tractor at its optimum performance level at all times. Ultimately, it is down to the operator to achieve the best possible results by making the right choices and adjusting settings according to his own preferences.

At the European Drivers Challenge John Deere and Michelin demonstrated how the proper understanding of technology by users influences the performance even of highly automated equipment, and provided guidance for enhanced tractor handling.

Apart from tractor engine and transmission settings, overall vehicle efficiency is also strongly influenced by tyres. Tyres are highly sophisticated devices which consist of more than 200 components. They are the unique link between the field or road and the vehicle. They have to match payload and speed to manage difficult terrain with different levels of grip and traction, while minimising soil compaction.

Michelin tyres are utilising innovative technologies and services to help farmers and contractors meet their daily challenges. Innovation is a key element of the Michelin strategy – 6600 people work in the company’s R&D department, with an annual budget of 640 million euros to develop tomorrow’s tyres for enhanced global mobility.

By following the manufacturer’s recommendations, a tractor operator can save several hundred euros a year in fuel costs and increase his productivity by several per cent. To optimise tyre pressure for different loads and tasks, Michelin has developed an easy-to-use Pressure Calculator App, which is available for IOS and Android based mobile devices.