Farmers who regularly change three-point linkage-mounted implements on their tractors will welcome the invention of a new coupling system designed to make the task easier, quicker and safer.
The innovation of Austrian farmer Johann Gangl even allows pto-driven implements to be attached without the driver having to get down off the tractor.
The idea behind the Gangl Docking Systems' (GDS) quick coupling involves modules on the front or back linkage and on the implement that connect automatically. The implement is then immediately ready for operation.
According to Mr Gangl the coupling process can be done in less than six seconds.
"Although the coupling of attachments is such an important process, it is still being carried out like in the stone ages," he says.
Mr Gangl conceived the idea back in 2001 and gradually developed it to a marketable product.
It was perfected in co-operation with an investor, Josef Schober, who founded GDS to commercialise the design.
"Johann Gangl developed the quick coupling system for his own alpine farm in Austria because no suitable system was available for his new tractor," notes Mr Schober.
"His innovation was admired by other farmers in the region and now it is available to farmers around the world and we expect to supply some 1,000 units by the end of 2012. We find that tractor operators who tried the system during our test programme never wanted to do without it again."
In principle, the GDS 3 coupling system is made up of two elements: the main triangle module – based on the three-point linkage system – is mounted on the tractor and the coupling module is measured by Gangl and adapted to the individual implement.
The design allows for a basic coupler with manual or automatic locking to be upgraded at any time to include automatic implement drive shaft connection or both pto and hydraulic connections.
All are suitable for relatively light implements such as haybobs and heavy draft implements such as ploughs and cultivators. Importantly, the design allows for easy coupling on level or uneven surfaces.
"Our system can be used with any tractor and implement regardless of its age," explains Alexander Lechner, commercial representative and chief operating officer of GDS GmbH.
"An unlimited number of equipment modules can be purchased for each tractor module and the entire system is made of high-quality steel from Austria and sealed using the resistant GDS coating."
In addition to farm equipment, the GDS 3 coupling system can be used with implements used in grounds-care and municipal services – such as mowers, brushes and snow ploughs.
"The advantages of quick coupling at such speed and safety are self-evident," says Mr Lechner. "In Austria alone, 13pc of all tractor accidents occur when connecting and disconnecting implements."
However, the speed and convenience will perhaps be of most appeal. We calculate that with the current diesel price, an hourly rate of €16 and fuel consumption of 10 litres per hour, it is possible to save more than €3,500 per year when changing implements five times a day."