Big cat hunting
Case IH Puma Tier 4B Series tractor
An American big cat, pumas are known by several different names including cougar, panther and mountain lion. In some areas, these wild cats are becoming rarer.
However, the Austrian-built Case IH Puma range is experiencing anything but a decline. In fact, it is thriving.
The St Valentine plant is Case IH’s European home, producing 28 tractor models from 99-240hp – including the Puma range, which ranges from 150hp to 240hp. Now onto its third generation, the Puma has quite a following among contractors and larger farmers, although it still has a few years to go to achieve legendary status like the Magnum.
After a quick cup of tea with Darren Miers and the boys from Grain and Food (Ag contractors based near Hamilton in New
Zealand), we headed to a local dairy farm with some slurry to spread using the high-spec 1250 muck spreader on demo from Giltrap Agri Zone in Cambridge, along with the top-ofthe-range Puma 240 CVT.
The Puma range is being made available in Classic and Ultimate models, providing as many – or few – bells and whistles as you prefer.
With torrential rain and icy wind, we managed to get onto the paddocks in less than ideal conditions.
The big Puma was actually lighter on the paddock than I was expecting. The weight of high-spec 12-tonne muck spreader behind was no issue. Although it is a well-built (heavy) machine, the Grain and Food guys had been dragging it around the hills a few days earlier with no trouble.
After a day dodging showers, I am sure the big 240 Puma was
pleased to be back to the dry, clean yard at the end of the day with the rest of the red Grain and Food fleet.
With competition fierce between tractor brands, each has to keep up or be left behind. The new Puma model boasts six new engine design patents. These improvements offer around 15hp (unboosted) over the previous model, while decreasing the nitrous oxide emissions levels to be compliant with Tier 4 final requirements.
To achieve this, Case hasn’t had to add an expensive diesel particulate filter or exhaust gas recirculation system. A 48-litre AdBlue tank mounted next to the diesel tank and treatment system is the main requirement, along with refinements within the engine. Engine noise in the comfortable high-spec cab is not noticeably loud by any standard. Automatic productivity management (APM) helps maximise efficiency in fuel consumption by reducing revs in relation to engine load while maintaining forward speed via the CVT transmission.
The 240 Puma is only available in CVT. The CVT system has received an update to make it more responsive and to operate more like an automatic car, interpreting the operator input and changing speed/power output accordingly depending on accelerator input.
The other feature that I really like on this transmission is the active hold system, which allows you to stop the tractor on a hill without using brakes, and allows you to pull away again without using either brake or clutch pedals. This is easier on the tractor and operator; great for round baling duties or operating big trailers and muck spreaders.
Another fuel-saving feature of the transmission on the new Puma range is the eco mode, which is useful in transport situations where it will cut right back to around 1600rpm once it has reached its top speed 40-50km/h, depending on front axle fitted.
The Case IH design and technical teams have kept with the 12-month/600-hour interval engine and 1200-hour transmission oil changes like most agricultural tractors they are producing. This is right up there in terms of what the rest of the industry is offering and helps keep the overall cost of ownership of a new Puma down.
More importantly, it means less downtime at busy
times when the weather is good and you need to get through the work.
Daily servicing is pretty straightforward. The oil dipstick/filler on the same side as the fuel tank is easily checked without raising the bonnet. The one-piece bonnet is easily lifted, requiring a tool to release the safety. With two positions (45 and 90 degrees) to choose from, this allows enough room for a quick check or easier access for servicing. Radiator cooling packs are easy to get at and clean mounted up front.
One of the most noticeable new features of the Puma range is the updated cab design. Addition of new LED lights on each of the four corners takes the total lighting package up to 28,800 lumens and should give a 360-degree range of lighting options to suit whatever task is at hand during darkness. The rear fenders have also been updated. PTO and linkage controls are still built in, and the main change is to the shape, which allows 710 tyres to be fitted and keep the mud at bay without fender extensions. As standard, the Puma 240 is fitted with Michelin 650/65 R42 rear and 540/65 R30 front tyres.
Inside the cab, the Ultimate series Puma, like the test tractor, receives a leather operator and training seat. The other cosmetic upgrade is the air-conditioning unit.
Case IH has gone to a one-piece front window, further enhancing visibility for the operator. For rear view, two-piece mirrors – like the big trucks use – have been added, which are great for viewing different fields of vision without altering the mirror. Controls are mounted on the multi-controller arm, with information displayed down the front right pillar and in the AFS 700 touchscreen monitor. This leaves a greater unobstructed view forward, with a cooler box utilising the air-conditioning unit in the place of a traditional dash setup.
IN THE CAB
As an operator, you wouldn’t complain about the space, comfort and visibility offered by the Puma cabs. Quality of finish is high and the leather seat is a nice finish. Case IH uses the same operation and control systems from the Maxxum CVT tractors, right up to the biggest Steiger wheel and Quadtrac machines, which immediately makes them familiar to a number of operators – as do the standard use of colours: yellow for PTO function; orange for drive; blue for FWD.
Being a longer wheelbase machine, comfort levels are excellent – as you would expect with a premium seat package cab suspension and front suspension, which is an option. I would expect it to be fitted almost as standard with the workload expected of a tractor of this size.
For road work at 50km/h, the ride is very good. More important than actual power and speed is being able to pull up a loaded tractor and load, keeping the drive and other road users safe. With the Ultimate spec, you get air and hydraulic trailer brakes. For those wannabe truck drivers, the exhaust brake pedal will be right up your alley.
A computer used to be the size of a room. Now it is condensed down to the size of a smartphone. In the Puma range, the function-operating computer comes in the form of the AFS 700 touchscreen unit, bigger than a smartphone with roughly a 10-inch screen to make for easier operation.
I found this unit very user-friendly; scrolling through to find what you want is straightforward. The Headland Management Control system is very easy to set up, as is creating and selecting or removing tasks, or changing the order of function – time or distance parameters are easily selected.
The Headland Management System allows the operator to programme up to 32 individual functions/steps. You have the option of programming the sequence you want or, possibly easier for some, just record the sequences in the paddock as you start the job.
A handy feature is balers and wrapper combos being able to mount up to three cameras with display on the AFS unit. Having ISOBUS III capability, the implement can control a number of tractor functions with ISOBUS control directly on the AFS screen without needing another separate monitor in the cab.
Being guidance-ready, the Puma is set up ready for whatever task you may have to throw at it. The information on areas worked and fuel used is useful for contractors to work out costings and improve the service they can offer their clients.
If you choose to opt for no AFS monitor, you can still use most of the tractor functions through the control arm and display on the right-hand pillar of the cab. This allows you to use another ISOBUS terminal, if that suits your situation.
The 170L/min hydraulic pump of the Puma CVT tractors provides impressive lift capacity of 10,463kg at the rear linkage. The (up to) nine electronic remotes (five rear and four mid-mount) should be ample for most situations.
Not so visible, but very useful all the same, are the updates within the hydraulic system. You can select which remote you want on a lever within the AFS Pro 700 touchscreen, and you can easily further fine-tune flow rates to suit different applications.
Used with the Headland Management System, the operator can concentrate on where they are going, while other functions are taken care of by tractor automation. Another new feature I’m sure Puma drivers will appreciate is being able to move straight through the hydraulic remotes, from locked in to out, without having to pause in between.
Electro hydraulic PTO with soft start function saves damage to implements like round balers. Used in conjunction with headland management, you can set start/stop times at certain points when raising/lowering implements to prevent damage to drive shafts and implements.
THE BOTTOM LINE
This is the most time I have spent in a Puma tractor in the last couple of years. The improvements and changes made to design and function have immediate benefits for those who own and operate these latest models.
With the evolution of the third generation Pumas, I can’t see these machines featuring on the endangered species list any time soon.
“You have the option of programming the sequence you want”
Main pic: Testing with the Puma and high spec muck spreader
1: The big cat is guidance-ready 2: A high-lift, one-piece bonnet
makes for easy servicing
3: The Puma 240 has a large
touchscreen AFS monitor
4: The solid-built, high-spec back end is a strong feature of the Puma range 4
5: The Austrian-built Case Puma
240 CVT tractor
6: Leather seats are a nice finish in
the Ultimate spec
7: A new lighting package gives