A trip into the manufacturing heartland of Italy
On a recent trip to the EIMA conference 2018 in Bologna, Italy, Harrison Hunkin thought he’d stop by and check out how Italians make tractors
You may not be familiar with Argo Tractors, but you would certainly know their brands.
McCormick is one. Yes, the iconic American brand that was once a juggernaut is now Italian-owned.
But the company is also behind Landini, perhaps the most famous agricultural brand to come out of Italy.
I was lucky enough on my recent trip to the land of pasta to be given a guided tour of Argo’s three main production facilities – it was a chance for me to witness how the Europeans do it.
But to get there, I had to make my way further into the region of Emilia-Romagna in Italy’s northeast – one of Europe’s manufacturing capitals, and home to automotive giants like Ferrari, Maserati, Ducati, and Lamborghini. THE ART OF CRAFT
Our first stop was to the newest Argo facility in Luzzara, 55km north of Modena, for all you geography buffs out there.
This plant is fully dedicated to the production of Argo’s specialised tractors – Landini’s established orchard specialist Rex and now Rex 4 series tractors are produced here, as well as a few specialist McCormick tractors.
A smaller facility, Argo was kind enough to open its doors and let us witness the production line.
I’d love to be able to tell you how many tractors roll off this production line every month, but my Italian is atrocious and the facility managers’ English wasn’t much better, but they seemed to be completing quite a few.
As expected, it was clean and organised, but my highlight was seeing that manpower was still needed to get the job done.
Manufacturing plants are glorious viewing; it’s like clockwork inside as everyone goes about their business quietly but efficiently.
Next stop was Argo headquarters and the historical home of Landini, Fabbrico – 20km south. This old village totally encompasses the factory. To see such a large facility nestled inside a tiny little Italian village is quite cute, something the Italians do very well.
Here, tractors from 80 horsepower (59.7kW) all the way to the
My highlight was seeing that manpower was still needed to get the job done.
300-plus hp (223.7kW) McCormick X8 are built. All factory areas are equipped with quality control facilities aimed at achieving quality.
We arrived just as the lunch bell sounded, which meant we didn’t witness any work (typical), but I think that was a blessing, this way I able to slowly wander through the production floor, examining Landini and McCormick tractors at different stages of their production lives. A fascinating sight.
The R&D and engineering divisions are also located here at the Fabbrico headquarters.
Then, following a divine Italian countryside lunch, courtesy of Landini, my final destination was further south – at Argo’s third production plant, San Martino, where its crawler machines and range of medium-sized tractors are built.
The San Martino site is special for another reason as well, Argo also produce many components, predominately transmission mechanisms, there.
From all three facilities, Argo now has a total production capacity of more than 22,000 tractors manufactured and marketed under the brands of Landini, McCormick and specialised vineyard tractor mark Valpadana.
Argo’s area manager Filippo Bassoli told me that Landini’s history – which dates back to 1884 – has helped the company to create a far-reaching network of relations.
“Landini is recognised as a specialised, utility tractor and that’s also what the market recognises,” Bassoli says.
“McCormick however is seen as the bigger more powerful brand, obviously due to its American roots,” he added.
While they aren’t on the scale of a John Deere, for example, Landini, McCormick and Valpadana tractors make their way onto thousands of farms every year – including some at the San Martino plant that were destined for
They are also unique in the tractor market because they do produce their products on Italian soil, to the contrary of the majority of manufacturers, which are nudging their production offshore.
“We are very proud to still be Italian, to still operate out of where Landini was born,” Bassoli says.
“It’s important to keep those origins alive.
“Where Landini and now Argo is based is quite strategic placed as it is a manufacturing and automotive heartland with lots of history.
“It is definitely something like to push,” he says.
“We want to push that ‘Made in Italy’, because the history and heritage of this region speaks excellence in European manufacturing.”
While it was a full-on day of tractor seeing, the experience can’t quite translate onto paper, it’s an opportunity meant for eyes.
Thanks for the tour Argo… and that meal.
We are very proud to still be Italian, to still operate out of where Landini was born.
Opposite – main: The village of Fabbrico surrounds the Argo production plant Opposite – inset: Argo headquarters1. First stop, Luzzara2. Inside the Fabbrico production plant3. Landini and McCormick tractors at the end of the production lineLunch time calling at Argo HQ 4.