John Deere Werke Mannheim, Germany, use FLIR Systems ThermaCAM™ SC-series infrared camera to optimize its tractors
John Deere is the world’s leading manufacturer of
agricultural equipment. The corporation is also known as a major
manufacturer of forestry and construction equipment and a leading
supplier of equipment used in lawn, grounds and turf care.
Founded in 1837, the company has grown from John Deere’s blacksmith shop into an established brand and a worldwide corporation that employs more than 47,000 people worldwide, reaching a USD 22 billion turnover. The company is well established in Europe: the John Deere Werke in Mannheim, Germany, are its second largest production site worldwide. 2,750 employees, including some 250 engineers, produce more than 37,000 vehicles annually.
Tractor energy management with InfraredTractors are one of the most known manufacturing core businesses of John Deere. Their reliability depend on the quality and versatility of the latter’s engines, which have to perform in harsh, dusty and muddy working environments and deal with vast temperature differences. Engines that are built into the tractors at the Mannheim plant are manufactured by John Deere works at other locations. They have to pass severe acceptance tests.
Monitoring and quantifying heat patterns
The heat development and distribution on the hood
covering the engine is crucial, as the tractor needs to be operative
under the most diverse climatic conditions. To realize the simple truth
that hot air should be able to leave the engine, air flows have to be
traced, captured, analyzed and, eventually, adjusted. An elaborate set
of cooling and heating tests at various revs per minute are conducted in
order to determine the “good” and “bad” air currents and to show their
impact on the hood. Thermography is a powerful indicator: the camera’s
findings, displayed by the FLIR Systems Researcher imaging software, can
indeed lead to an adaptation and even an entire re-design of the
tractor model hood to optimize the engine’s operation.
The analysis and fact-finding of the infrared images
or sequences is done together with the design engineers. Nevertheless,
the latter expect qualified statements on temperature raise, heat
distribution and development from the two engineers. “For us, as
thermographers and engineers, it’s important to focus on the following
questions: what is the background of our findings? What is the value,
and what are the consequences of our conclusions? These questions can
only be answered properly on the basis of an accurate handling of the
camera and a careful analysis of the visual material.” says Thilo
The reports are kept and archived in digital format
as well as in hard copy. They are instantly available for consultation.
Allowing to compare parts and components quickly and easily,
thermography contributes to developing a better product: “We are
regularly called to other existing product design groups to take infrared images”, says Waldemar Stark. Other infrared applications at
the John Deere plant in Mannheim include regular inspection of the tyre
stocks with a FLIR Systems E-series camera in order to prevent
self-combustion at the storehouse.
“The FLIR Systems SC-series camera, which we use
with the standard 24° and additional 45° lenses fulfils our needs”, says
Thilo Kazimiers. “Its ability to visualize operating cycles in
real-time, is very useful. And the Researcher thermal imaging software
package allows us to analyze the dynamic sequences”.
‘Nothing runs like a John Deere’ is the
corporation’s slogan and maxim. Thermography’s ability to visualize and
measure contributes to keeping this commitment.
Acknowledgements to Roland Geipert, Area Sales Manager at FLIR Systems Germany, for establishing contacts and providing support.
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