Bearings, seals and sensors for agricultural applications

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Bearings, seals and sensors for agricultural applicationsSKF has a wide range of technology that can be applied in the agriculture industry to increase productivity, lower operational costs and deliver sustainability benefits.

Products are typically aimed at extending machine component service life and reducing maintenance, both of which contribute to less stoppages, more reliability, and more machine availability. All of this results in longer operational hours for tractors, combines and attachments in the agriculture industries. Emphasis is also put on designing products with minimal lubrication needs. Where needed, the use of automatic centralised lubrication systems provide accurate and timely lubrication to all key rotating, sliding and oscillating positions on the vehicles and equipment. This lowers the use of lubricants, reduces component wear and ground contamination from oil and grease, thereby contributing to environmental care and sustainability. Advanced new mechatronics products offer greater productivity through ergonomic benefits while consuming less power than traditional hydraulic systems.

Agri Hub increases productivity and reduces pollution

SKF Agri Hub (pictured) is a completely new product used in rotary discs for land tilling. SKF field trials indicate an increase in productivity of up to 150 per cent and a reduction of the total cost of ownership by up to 30 per cent. Furthermore, the Agri Hub is lubricated and sealed for life, saving an estimated 500kg of grease per machine over 10 years that could leak from conventional designs. It is reliable for an estimated 10 farming seasons and is relubrication- and pollution-free and easy to install. As a single unit, SKF's Agri Hub replaces up to 15 separate components and is expected to reduce OEM costs in management and overhead by up to 90 per cent.

Virtually maintenance-free bearing for steering application

The SKF self-lubricating axial spherical TX plain bearing and a specially developed seal virtually eliminate the need for maintenance in this steering linkage application. The unit also provides increased load carrying and extended service life.

There is no need for standstills for relubrication and the risk of bearing failures due to improper lubrication is virtually eliminated. The bearing is also environmentally friendly due to zero grease leakage. This product is claimed to provide higher reliability and improved productivity. It can be used in temperatures from -20 to +50degC and is designed for 300,000 operating cycles in an environment of straw, stones, fertilisers, mud and high-pressure water cleaning.

Improved operator comfort and safety

Global positioning systems (GPS) are widely used in agriculture, saving time and up to 10 per cent fuel due to no more overlapping by harvesters. Their success is partly due to SKF sensor devices that are coupled to the GPS.

The SKF sensor device is in the steering column of the tractor and is coupled to the GPS. It enables the farmer to drive to a starting position and then engage the GPS control for automatic steering while mowing. If the farmer sees obstacles in his path, or needs to turn at the end of the field, he simply turns the steering wheel. This disengages the GPS steering and puts the farmer back in control. When the obstacle is avoided or the turn is made, the farmer can re-activate the GPS for the next part of the mowing process.

Continuous variable transmissions (CVT) are used today in many tractors. Although there are many advantages of CVT, especially when mowing, one main issue of this new technology is that the traditional mechanical brake in emergency situations, like mowing downhill, can sometimes cease to be fully effective. This is because if the tractor loses power, there is no engine brake possible and the forces involved can be too high for an operator to apply a mechanical brake manually. SKF has developed an electromechanical actuation system that can get power from the battery and provide an effective emergency brake function in all critical conditions.

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