With harvesting wrapping up in many farming regions across the nation, it’s the ideal opportunity to mark the 40th anniversary of the Axial-Flow combine and the single-rotor technology that revolutionised the industry.
Introduced in 1977, these combines were a departure from the traditional straw walker design, in that threshing and separation was now performed by a rotor. The rotary design from International Harvester was the first of its kind to be mass-produced and represented a giant step forward for farmers, with an increase in capacity translating to a significant boost in productivity.
Case IH product manager Tim Slater said in today’s market, Case IH offers a broad model range to suit any operation, with the efficiency and reliability of the Axial-Flow among the qualities valued most by customers.
“The Axial-Flow turned 40 last year and the technology has definitely evolved in that time, but the core design principles are still important today. The Axial-Flow has less drive components than anything else on the market, this ‘simplicity in design’ enhancing the machine’s reliability in all conditions,” he said.
In terms of improvements in harvesting efficiency over the years, Tim pointed to increases in horsepower from 170hp in the original 1460 combine to a maximum of 625hp in today’s 9240, along with a number of industry leading features along the way.
The evolution of the Axial-Flow combine has also been marked by the inclusion of a feeder reverser in 1986 to a rotor reverser in 2003.
Cleaning systems have also evolved with a self-levelling cleaning system with hydraulic cleaning fan drive on the 240 Series, and a cross-flow cleaning system on the 140 Series, in order to maintain performance when the combines are harvesting on slopes. Clean-out doors have also improved farmers’ ability to clean down their machines between crop types or at the end of the season.
Other milestones include automatic header height control and Terrain Tracker (automatic header tilt) when used with Case IH fronts, long unloading augers with a pivoting spout, and suspended tracks suitable for controlled traffic farming operations.
“We also started with precision farming, with the first yield monitors being fitted in 1996, which has progressed through to yield mapping, auto steering and now the grain analyser for measuring oil or protein content,” Tim said.
The icing on the cake in its 40th anniversary year was the awarding of the Highest Retained Value Award to the Axial-Flow 140 Series combine by EquipmentWatch, recognising its performance and proven value on the market.
It identified the machine as “an excellent choice for demanding farming needs”, citing features including the lauded Case IH residue management system built to handle the tough residue
associated with new crop genetics, an engine that produces up to 442 horsepower and a grain tank capacity of 10,570L.
The award recognises manufacturers in 28 heavy equipment categories for products that show the highest retained value over the last five years and is the only industry benchmark that relies on data-driven residual values to confirm and project an asset’s value.
“It’s just further recognition of the quality of our Axial-Flow range. It changed the industry when released in 1977 and 40 years later continues to offer what the market demands: innovation, reliability, productivity and value for money,” Tim said.
Case IH Australia also celebrated the 40th anniversary of the Axial Flow at last year’s AgQuip in Gunnedah NSW, displaying a new model Axial-Flow painted in the original style and colours of its predecessors, creating a talking point for AgQuip crowds and proving popular for photos.
Tim said the Axial-Flow had been a market leader for decades and Case IH would continue to ensure it remained the benchmark well into the future.
“We’re always listening to our customers and dealer network in terms of the changing needs of local farmers and what they’re looking for in their harvesters. We appreciate the harvester is one of their most important investments, and the job it does can have a big impact on a business’ bottom-line,” he said.
“We take that responsibility very seriously and continue to refine and improve our products, right across the Case IH range.”