Farm Ireland
Independent.ie

Saturday 25 February 2017

Texa paves a way for the future of agri-diagnostics

Increased use of on-board computors creates need for new tools

Bruce Lett

Today, middle-to-high specification tractors may use numerous electronic systems to control engine, transmission, lift, hydraulics, front suspension and much more
Today, middle-to-high specification tractors may use numerous electronic systems to control engine, transmission, lift, hydraulics, front suspension and much more
Texa sales manager Dave Gordon demonstrates the Texa Navigator TXT Agri diagnostic tool to an interested group of agricultural dealers
Texa sales manager Dave Gordon gives a detailed rundown of how it works

At the FTMTA's training facility just outside Naas, Co Kildare, more than 30 agricultural dealers recently attended an information day organised by aftermarket parts supplier Vapormatic.

Last year, Vapormatic became an agent for the Texa range of agricultural diagnostic equipment in Ireland and Britain. Before this, mainstream vehicle diagnostic equipment manufacturers had shown little or no interest in the agricultural sector, preferring instead to concentrate on the car and truck industries.

Today, middle-to-high specification tractors may use numerous electronic systems to control engine, transmission, lift, hydraulics, front suspension and much more. Each system may have its own electronic control unit (ECU) or blackbox to provide a means of communication between each one. Many manufacturers use what is called a controller area network (CAN) bus system.

This is essentially a communication link or 'bus' between each of the tractor's ECUs. Using just two wires, CAN-High and CAN-Low, there is a continuous stream of information from each ECU circulating between all ECUs. The idea of the CAN bus system is to reduce the amount of wiring required for communication between ECUs.

In tandem with the CAN bus comes a more sophisticated means of identifying and logging faults in a tractor's electrical system. Today's electronic systems store not just the fault, but the number of times it occurred and when. It is these fault codes that diagnostic equipment such as Texa's can read, analyse and clear or reset.

Because of the lack of aftermarket agri-diagnostic equipment manufacturers, tractor garages outside of main dealers were limited in what they could do if an electronic problem arose in a modern tractor.

This meant in most cases that farmers and contractors had no option but to go to a main dealer in an attempt to resolve an electronic problem that may have occurred. The problem with this scenario is that when equipment ages and perhaps tends to be more prone to problems, this becomes increasingly expensive.

As in the auto industry, many look for a cheaper fix as a vehicle enters its middle or late working life but, up until now, this has not been possible in the agri sector.

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Since Vapormatic introduced the Texa Navigator TXT Agri to the market, the system has developed quite quickly.

At the FTMTA's training facility, we were introduced to the latest that Texa has to offer.

The firm is on the verge of releasing version three of its software and Texa sales manager Dave Gordon demonstrated many of the features of the system on a tractor in the workshop.

Mr Gordon said that manufacturers do not often provide Texa with the information required to develop its diagnostic equipment. As such, it is quite a task for Texa to develop the relevant diagnostic software for the different manufacturers and ranges.

The company appears to be managing, though, says Mr Gordon. "With the next software release, which will be version three, we will be able to programme the variable geometry turbo and EGR (Exhaust Gas Recirculation) valve that John Deere uses."

According to Mr Gordon, Texa has the capability to plug into an enormous and ever-increasing number of agricultural tractor and tele-handler manufacturers, plus industrial engine manufacturers.

One example of why diagnostic equipment is becoming more important or useful is because of the increased use of biofuels.

"On combine harvesters and self-propelled silage harvesters in particular, biofuel promotes the growth of a fungus," says Mr Gordon. "This fungus can block the injectors and with the Texa tool the problem injector or injectors can be identified."

Support is important with all diagnostic equipment and is part of the service that Texa provides. Where a user comes across a problem or fault that cannot readily be rectified, there is the facility within the Texa tool to go online with the details of the problem and request help from the firm.

The Texa diagnostic kit does not come cheap, though, with a retail price of ¿4,990 plus VAT. For this, you get the Texa Navigator TXT Agri, a cable kit for the more popular makes and models, and 12-month software and helpline subscription. This price does not include a laptop, which is required to run the Texa programme.

Because Texa also makes diagnostic equipment for cars, trucks, motorbikes and boats, there is the potential to expand the use of the Texa diagnostic tool further by buying licences for that equipment. For more information, contact Vapormatic on 045-873146 or www.vapormatic.com or www.texa.co.uk.

Indo Farming