Farm Ireland
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Sunday 4 December 2016

Setting the trend in diagnostic control

Company expands tractor problem solving range for customers

Bruce Lett

Published 26/01/2010 | 05:00

AFTERMARKET parts specialist Vapormatic is now offering a multi-brand diagnostic tool to aftermarket tractor repairers and independent tractor garages.

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Vapormatic is one of several companies to offer a broad range of tractor parts and components, which tend to cater for ageing, rather than new or newer, tractors. The company recently added an immobiliser anti-theft unit to its range of products, which can be fitted to any make or model of tractor or plant machine.

Broadening its portfolio even further, Vapormatic has become agents for the Italian made Texa Navigator TXT Agri diagnostics tool. Diagnostics equipment is commonplace in the motor industry, where there is all manner of kit, with code readers, service interval reset tools and diagnostic tools available. Some perform better than others on Japanese, European and American vehicles.

For the agri sector, up to now there has been little or nothing available, as the proportion of tractors with electronic controls was far outnumbered by the amount of cars. On economies of scale, by comparison, there are fewer tractors to fix and a much smaller demand for diagnostic kit. On the other hand, there are far more electronic functions and controls on medium to high-spec tractors than the average tarmac muncher.

As a rule, tractor electronics are very reliable. They have to be because of the environment they work in and the pressure placed on them to carry this work in all types of weather. Nonetheless, the electronic fleet is ageing and while repairs may not be frequent, they certainly are necessary. The Texa diagnostic tool gives agri customers the option that auto customers have had for years -- to go elsewhere for perhaps a better rate and not be tied to the main dealer.

On its decision to introduce the Texa Navigator TXT to the UK and Ireland, Nick Dicks, Vapormatic's marketing man, said: "We recognised the changing world of the tractor, and introducing this product fits in with out programme and core business.

"It is a modern-day product for modern-day tractors, and with it we are suppo- rting independent dealers and agricultural engineers, mechanics and technicians."

Texa also provides diagnostic equipment for the motor, truck and motorcycle industry and, according to the company, is now the leading non-original equipment manufacturer (OEM) and diagnostic tool provider in the agri sector.

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For the customer buying the product, Mr Dicks says they are looking for ways to support dealers through financing and are confident a buyer could get their money back in a year in genuine new business.

Shane Rooney, area sales representative with Vapormatic here in Ireland, ran through the product: "The diagnostic kit consists of the Texa Navigator TXT, which is basically the same unit as used in the auto industry but with the agri software and a tractor cable kit.

"The cable kit enables the unit to be connected to all the major manufacturers and their models, Case IH, Claas, John Deere, Fendt, New Holland, Same, Landini, McCormick, Krone, Deutz Fahr and many more besides. Massey Ferguson is not on board yet but will be shortly."

A laptop, capable of running the software, is required as it communicates with the Texa unit via bluetooth, reducing the amount of necessary cabling.

"A 'dongle', which is a software key, is supplied with the kit. This allows the laptop to communicate with the Texa unit. There is only one dongle per kit, though you could have the software loaded onto a couple of laptops," Mr Rooney says.

Buyers of the Vapormatic kit also get a two-day training course in Texa UK, access to the technical helpline in the UK and online upgrades as part of the package," he says.

With the software fired up on the laptop, each step or stage of using the diagnostic tool is prompted on the screen and then confirmed before the user moves onto the next step.

Mr Rooney demonstrated that you select the model of the tractor and controller (black box) option and transmission, etc, that you want to check. Once this is done it tells you which cable to use and there is a small video in the corner of the screen directing where the cable is to be plugged in. The instructions are carried out on a step-by-step basis and are prompted for you on screen.

As the unit is generic, there is more information on some manufacturers than others, depending on what the manufacturer has made available.

Mr Rooney, for example, demonstrated that John Deere supplied wiring schematics, which enabled the user to see all the relevant electrical or electronic components, and a brief description of that component to identify it alongside the wiring colour codes.

The unit displays fault, or trouble codes, and a brief description of the error. It indicates the problem component but not the root cause, such as component failure/damage or wiring failure, but it is still enough to point you in the right direction.

The unit will allow the user to clear the fault codes and even reconfigure some controllers but it won't reprogramme an ECU -- that is the main dealer's job. There are even some technical notes available for some makes and models, which may indicate a problem or change in component manufacturer or type -- again dependent on what the manufacturer has released.

There is a database facility where the user can enter the tractor's details and it will record all the tests carried and the problems recorded. This can be printed out for the purpose of billing or for the customer's own records.

The Texa Navigator TXT Agri is certainly user-friendly, prompting the user on each step of the way. It allows the user to read and clear fault codes, and it gives enough information to fix a problem.

It is not a match for the OEM's diagnostic tools, but then it never could be. OEM tools have access to a vast array of information and, even with fault codes, provides extensive information in determining a reason for the fault code. On very new models, even the manufacturers often do not have an immediate solution for any problems that surface.

The Texa unit allows the same level of access that aftermarket providers in the auto industry have on non-new products and enough information to hopefully fix at a cost, reflective of the year or value of the product. At the moment, the unit is equipped with 'Version 1' of the agri software; the truck unit is on Version 19 and the car is on Version 36. It must be remembered, though, that as soon as technical notes, upgrades or new software become available they can be downloaded via the internet, so there is no waiting on discs.

For further information and price, contact Vapormatic's Shane Rooney on 087 646 8171.

Irish Independent