Texa paves a way for the future of agri-diagnostics
Increased use of on-board computors creates need for new tools
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.