Machinery: Optimum performance
The input of farmers and contractors is reflected in the enhanced spec of the new Optum tractor from Case IH
More muscle, an excellent power to weight ratio and dimensions close to those of the Puma range; these are the features which characterise the new Optum CVX tractor from Case IH, and which helped it scoop the prestigious 'Machine of the Year 2016' award at Agritechnica.
Assembly of the new Optum tractors started at Case IH's St. Valentin plant in Austria in September, and the first units have already left the factory. The first Irish deliveries are expected for early 2016.
Andreas Klauser, Case IH President, said his engineers listened to the views of farmers and contractors when designing the eagerly awaited Optum. An in-depth customer clinic was held, involving owners of a variety of brands in the 180 to 300hp segment.
"There are big technological advancements in design, construction and performance of modern tractors - and there are key requirements in high-end tillage farming which our development engineers have kept at the forefront of their minds," he explained.
"These tractors are very fuel efficient, low on emissions and extremely powerful at the same time. We believe they offer excellent performance, productivity and comfort, and we were proud to present them at Agritechnica."
Underneath the bonnet
The most striking thing on seeing the Optum CVX for the first time is its new design; with the new bonnet's dynamic lines and signature lights, the series seems to announce a new departure for Case IH tractors of the future. Beyond aesthetics, the Optum range consists of two models with compact 6.7 litre engines from FPT Industrial.
There is a choice of either 270 or 300hp at a rated speed of 2,100rpm, and a maximum power of 313hp at 1,800rpm for the larger of the two models. As these engines fulfil Stage IV emission requirements without additional components such as particle filters, the newly designed compact bonnet allows for excellent forward visibility.
Changes to the engine also include new valve material and design for the engine head, resulting in higher combustion pressure.
However, the major change is to the lower part of the engine block and oil sump, with a clever design where the sump serves as the backbone of the tractor, thereby removing stress from the engine block.
While the typical weight of the Optum CVX amounts to 11,000kg, this 'structural sump' allows for a maximum gross vehicle weight of 16,000kg, providing multiple ballast and payload options for the customer.
Case claims the Optum has the ability to put additional power to the ground whilst maintaining the agility of smaller models, thus further increasing efficiency and comfort levels for the operator, whilst reducing total cost of ownership.
"This is the 'Optimal' solution for such a broad range of requirements and specifications. Our engineers have rethought and revised every single detail, always looking for ways to optimise efficiency, performance and reliability alike," reports Dan Stuart, Case IH product market manager.
For example, a single turbocharger delivers the high torque required at low engine speeds and responds faster than twin turbos, thus making the Optum a true power pack."
Owners and operators will enjoy the longest service intervals in this power sector because less time and money needs to be spent on routine maintenance.
With a massive reservoir of 630 litre diesel and 96 litre AdBlue tanks on the Optum, combined with idle speed management which reduces the engine speed from 850 rpm to 650 rpm, less time is spent returning to the farmyard for refuelling.
This efficiency has recently been verified by DLG as independent testing association with a PowerMix test result of just 249 g/kWh. This PowerMix test has been created to replicate typical customer usage in a repeatable and comparable way to other tractors in the same power bracket.
New 4-range CVT and park lock
The continuously variable transmission used in the Optum tractor range was engineered to reliably handle and transmit high draft loads generated from over 300hp engines. Two available speed options include 30m/h to 40km/h ECO, as well as a 30m/h to 50km/h ECO range; the maximum speed in reverse is a ridiculously fast 27km/h in both cases.
In conjunction with the new front and rear axle design and a wheel base of 2,995mm and 2.15 diameter tyres, the continuously variable transmission ensures excellent power to the ground and impressive traction whilst, at the same time, helping to achieve maximum fuel efficiency. The Optum also features a new spring applied/hydraulically released park lock.
The new tractor features the front axle from smaller Magnum models, with which some readers may be already be familiar, with saddle style front axle suspension.
"The shorter front axle to front linkage distance provides an excellent vehicle weight distribution and more compact overall dimensions. In addition, our engineers have gone a long way to maximise the tyre envelope with specially designed fuel tanks, thus providing a very tight turning angle", added Mr Stuart.
Safety and control
To ensure maximum road safety, the Optum can be supplied with ABS to help safe braking in tricky situations. An optional advanced ABS version is also available.
When activated in the field the driver steers normally but when turning the inner wheel brake is applied automatically to assist; this is controlled electronically which prevents the wheel from locking up.
A tyre pressure monitoring system is also available, which allows the operator to monitor up to 16 tyres either on the tractor or on implements.
The system is integrated within the AFS 700 monitor and allows the operator to set parameters which, if exceeded, will warn the operator on the display. With airline connection available at the rear, the operator can then re-inflate the tyre to get back to the farm.
The 4-speed rear PTO of the Optum CVX range comes standard with an Electronic Speed Shift. Another interesting development is the optional 2-speed front PTO which comes with the same design concept as the rear PTO pack and provides the operator with two speeds (1,000 or 1,000 ECO) which can be selected from the cab of the tractor.
With the 1000 ECO option fuel savings can be made in operations such as mowing. With the relatively low base weight, rear and front linkage and its high horsepower, Case IH claims the Optum addresses the need for flexibility and performing multiple functions, including tasks with heavy front and rear implements.
It is expected to retail in the region of €180,000 plus VAT.
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