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Automatic Hitching for total Safety of Farmers when Coupling machinery

Attaching farm machinery or trailers to tractors can be dangerous, with the risk of serious injury and even death. However, farmers perform this key operation numerous times per day, just as they did over 50 years ago.

The Horizon 2020 EU-funded SIWI project addressed the risk posed by coupling machinery and trailers by developing the first fully automated hitching system for farmers. “The operator can connect and disconnect the tractor while remaining seated and not go near the coupling” says Steen Nørgaard Jensen project coordinator and marketing director of Danish SME SIWI Maskiner Aps. “Productivity is dramatically increased since a trailer change is done in just 30 seconds instead of the current 5-8 minutes” he adds.

To engage the hitching system, the tractor with the SIWI module reverses back towards the trailer module. The farmer then raises the tractor module and the trailer module until they are level. When both modules are positioned correctly, the farmer connects hydraulic, electrical, pneumatic and power take-off connections via the control box inside the tractor cabin. The control box then gives farmers a green-light approval, confirming that the connection is correctly performed, and the farmer can move the trailer.

It should be noted that for maximum safety, all systems are equipped with a safety lock system that keeps both modules connected during driving. “Our system enables farmers to use one tractor on the farm instead of four or five, which is the current way of working. This brings along enormous environmental benefits, and greatly reduces the time that farmers waste on non-value-added activities,” explains Nørgaard Jensen.

Greater market uptake

Researchers validated the technical, commercial and financial feasibility of SIWI and created a strategy for commercialising the ground-breaking technology around the globe. “We carefully analysed our target market and identified key drivers that will fuel the market adoption of our products. To speed up post-project sales, we fine-tuned our commercialisation strategy and contacted several distributors in our target markets,” comments Nørgaard Jensen.

This approach will increase the market’s adoption of SIWI’s ground-breaking technology and allow the company to expand into international markets, especially Japan and the United States, boost growth and increase its workforce. Nørgaard Jensen states: “We will further invest in the project and develop the prototype into a commercial-ready product and proceed with its commercialisation.”

Compliance with international standards

Engineers carefully designed the technology to ensure full compatibility with all the types of implements currently available on the market. Furthermore, it is compliant with the ISO binary unit system and the load sensing hydraulic systems currently found in all state-of-the-art tractors and implements. "Our products are fully certified as per industrial standards. During the project, we will certify our new product as per Directive 2001/95/EU (EC certificate for strength/reliability) and TÜV Strassenverkehrs-Zulassungs-Ordnung Approval, for transport in public roads,” points out Nørgaard Jensen.

SIWI represents a major advance for the agricultural machinery industry, enabling farmers to safely connect and disconnect trailers and machinery at the touch of a button. Therefore, it can be used easily by disabled persons as there is no need to leave the tractor cabin to unhook heavy power transmissions axles.

Reference source: Automatic Hitching for total Safety of Farmers when Coupling machinery

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