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Story by : Rajesh Rajgor

ZF makes some of the most hi-tech tractor transmission at its plant in Germany.

It is cloudy and grey, typical of a monsoon morning. Behind the wheel of a big Landini 7 – 215 Dual Power tractor, the farm ahead looks big. Bigger than the farms in India often are. But then, this is Germany. Somewhere near Passau to be precise. This farm is typical of the size of farms found in Germany. Farms that call for the use of high horse power tractors. The Landini 7 – 215 Dual Power for example. It is not surprising to learn that the transmission powering the smallest, or the least powerful tractor in Germany could actually work well on the most powerful tractor in India – in the range of 50 to 60hp. The Landini tractor is equipped with a synchronised transmission (ZF T 7200). There are 6 synchronised gears that shift automatically. Also a part of the transmission is the IRS (Intelligent Ring Shifter) and 4 power shift gears. The synchronised gears shift automatically, without the need to operate the clutch.   

The ECCOM 5.0 from ZF is found on the most powerful tractors in Germany like the Claas Xerion 4000 and the ATM Terrion 7000. ECCOM 5.0 is produced at ZF’s plant at Passau and suitable for use on vehicles that produce torque of upto 650hp. This transmission is claimed to be the most reliable and efficient by ZF sources. It is also well acknowledged for the operating comfort it offers. A continuously variable transmission (CVT) the ECCOM 5.0 does away with the need to operate the clutch or change gears. The driver can thus concentrate on other tasks at hand rather than worry if the right set of gears are engaged. With tractors as powerful as 420hp found in Germany, it is not surprising to see ZF offering the Series 9 transmission. At the other end, is the CVT Transaxle TMT 09. It is the smallest continuously variable ZF transaxle, and has a power range of between 65 to 90hp. The travel speed achieved is up to 50kmph. The TMT 09 is an inline transmission design that facilitates low centre of gravity. TMT 09 is found on tractors like Lindner Lintrac. This is one transmission that could eventually find its way to India. High hp tractors by Same Deutz Fahr are fitted with the TMT 32 and TMT 45 transmission. 

When the TMT 09 transaxle makes it to India, chances are that it will be made at ZF’s facility at Coimbatore. Eberhard Wilks, Head of Product Line Agricultural Machinery Systems, ZF, did not reveal any timeline for such a development. Instead he chose to say that if ZF does manufacture the likes of the TMT 09 transaxle in India, it will be localised, and for local consumption. The other transmission ZF could look at manufacturing in India is the TPT 9 and TPT 11 transaxles. These two transmission could cater to the export markets for the Indian OEMs. ZF could also look at manufacturing axles in the 25hp and 125hp range
in India. 

Technology in different brands

If the opportunity presented a means to check out tractors from John Deere, Fendt, Deutz and Lindner with modern implements like cultivators, ploughs, disc harrows and front packers, the scenario also presented a clear image about the nature and application of tractors in regions that lack abundant manual labour. Gernot Hein, Head of Communications and Marketing at ZF, said that his company was keen to highlight the gamut of technology offered in the form of transmissions for tractors, reflecting 75 years of manufacturing heritage.

Deutz Fahr

This 140hp tractor is equipped with ZF T7140 (transaxle) transmission with a power shift mechanism. Offering 32 gear ratios in total, this transmission is the smallest unit in the T 7000 transmission family. The TPT 11 transmission from the T 7000 family is even smaller and lighter. Of the power shift variety, this transmission is found on a Steyr 4115 tractor; is new and offers 32 gear ratios. Steyr 4115 attains a maximum speed of 40kmph, the APS function on the TPT 11 two program modes, helping to lock different power shift levels. If tough task were to be performed, TPT 11 enables the user to strike out 3rd and 4th powershift level.This keeps the engine from stalling. There is also a combo shift, which does away with the need to operate the clutch when shifting; an automatic reverse gear system, eases on the discomfort and allows for a smooth operation.

 

Claas 830 Axion

This 213 hp tractor contains ZF’s TMT 25 transmission with drive train controllers. ZF engineers worked with Claas to ensure user friendly controls. When operating under high-load conditions, it is possible to reduce the engine speed from a range of 1800-2000 rpm at 40kmph to 1270 rpm at 42 kmph. This ensures more fuel saving. The ability to clock good speeds yet have the engine turning at lower rpm also ensures superior fuel efficiency under partial load conditions, apart from reducing noise. The maximum torque this tractor puts out is 970 Nm.

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This 230hp tractor is equipped with ZF power shift transmission. Doubling up as a wheel loader, the transmission facilitates auto and manual shifts. There are 6 gear ratios on offer. 

McCormick VTX7/6 Series

This tractor is equipped with TMT 18 CVT transmission from ZF. The rear axle is also from ZF. The engine produces a maximum power of 185hp at 1900 rpm. Even at 50 kmph the steering requires little effort. The power shuttle function makes it easy to reverse the tractor. The CVT transmission on this tractor ensures car like comfort in the form of cruise control. For example a driver can choose to operate between 0 to 30 kmph using speed adjustment button.

75 years of precision manufacture

The first tractor transmission rolled out of the ZF’s Passau plant in 1946. The plant delivered the 1,00,000 tractor transmission in 1954. The year 1972 saw the introduction of T-3000 synchromesh transmission. The power shift transmission T-700 rolled out of Passau in 1989, followed by the manufacture of CVT transmission in 2000. ECCOM 5.0 CVT transmission for high hp tractors began manufacture in 2009. In 2011, production of the TERRAMATIC Series with TERRA+ generator module commenced. Further In 2014, TERRAPOWER and TERRAMATIC transmissions got a standard rear axle. Exports account for as much as 28 percent of the sales revenue at Passau. Each year 18,000 transmissions and 8,000 rear axles leave the assembly shop. They are supplied to thirty customers in fifteen countries. In the Central Division Assembly, all single components are assembled to make complete axles and transmissions on more than 20 assembly lines. The assembly area is divided into different sectors like agricultural machinery systems, bus and commercial vehicle systems. The transmissions and axles differ; in versions, size and number of components. Every day this versatile task requires precision, smooth operations and different logistical arrangements. The division is also responsible for the worldwide business of marine propulsion systems, aviation technology as well as the development and production of gearboxes for wind turbines. Test systems for all kinds are found here. Of applications in driveline and chassis technology and the open telematics platform. Openmatics are also included in the division’s portfolio. In order to continue to be successful with innovative products, ZF annually invests about 5 percent of its sales (2013: EUR 836 million) in research and development. In 2013, the Group achieved a sales figure of about EUR 16.8 billion with approximately 72,600 employees.

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