When you’re stomping around Fieldays admiring the displays of new farm equipment, it’s easy to be beguiled by shiny paint and impressive performance data so that you forget one of the most important questions – if I break it, how much will it cost to fix?
The answer to that question will reveal a lot about an equipment manufacturer’s design philosophy. Some will strive to make their gear “unbreakable” and therefore give scant attention to the question; others will accept that the demands of real-world farming are likely on occasion to exceed even the toughest specs, and therefore repairs need to be relatively cheap and easy.
The best manufacturers will go further and build in a “fuse” or sacrificial part intentionally engineered to fail under excess stress and so will protect other parts of the system.
Electrical fuses are the most common example; mechanical shear pins are another and are designed to shear in the case of a mechanical overload, preventing other, more expensive parts from being damaged.
Part 2 of this design philosophy is to ensure that replacing these sacrificial parts and getting the machine up and running again is as cheap and quick as replacing a blown electrical fuse.
Good examples of all this can be found in the range of hay and grass mowers on the market. These mowers can be expensive to run and maintain. If the cutterbar hits a rock while you are mowing a paddock, you can easily damage the disc modules. If you are really unlucky the damage can travel through to the gears, gearbox and driveshaft, resulting in very expensive and time-consuming repairs.
How much easier would it be if the disc that hit the rock had a set of shear pins between it and the rest of the mower’s drivetrain. The pins would fail, as designed, and the damage would travel no further. The best machinery manufacturers would also ensure that replacing the broken pins was a simple procedure easily done in the field, rather than requiring you to head to the workshop first.
One such manufacturer is SIP. In this blog we look at how the cutterbar protection system on SIP mowers makes them cost effective option thats easier to maintain and repair.
INTRODUCING SIP’S DISC DRIVE SAFETY SYSTEM
SIP are a Slovenian manufacturer of agricultural machinery with a history dating from the 1950s. In its early years the company maintained and serviced machinery made by other people, and this experience gave it a real edge when it began making its own equipment from the 1960s – it knew already what did and didn’t work. Heavy investment in R&D and manufacturing facilities followed, and as trading links grew between Eastern Europe and the rest of the world with the thawing of the Cold War, SIP expanded its range of products and found a growing number of customers outside Europe, including in Canada, Australia and New Zealand.
SIP mowers have the most cost-effective protection system in the event of disc overload. Replacing a broken shear pin is easier, cheaper and faster on an SIP mower than on any other brand. In fact, Waikato firm Reymer Ag Contracting says it only takes 10 minutes to replace a set of shear pins on its SIP mowers in the event of breakage
SIP’s Disc Drive Safety System (DDSS) uses four shear pins in each disc module, total cost $25 a set. So that’s the cost in parts to get the mower up and running again. By way of comparison, the equivalent cost with other systems can range from $400 to $800 per module damaged. Then there’s the labour cost – there’s only seven bolts to remove to expose the damaged module and get at the broken pins. Other designs have 14 bolts or more and expose the whole cutterbar, leading to potential contamination of its inner surfaces, which can lead to further damage. With the SIP system there is no oil to clean up, and the only tools required are a spanner, punch and hammer. Replacement shear pins are easily stored in the mower blade box as well, so they are always on hand.
It’s crucial when shopping for new equipment to factor in the cost of maintenance and repairs. The right product will be one that does the job but that also has ease and cost of repairs at the core of its design. SIP mowers, with their Disc Drive Safety System, tick all these boxes.