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

Farms & Farm Machinery - - Contents -

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.

ITAL­IAN-BUILT

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

Aus­tralia.

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.

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