Winds of Change

An­drew Hobbs meets the de­vel­op­ers of an award­win­ning fire preven­tion sys­tem that could save time and money for farm­ers Aus­tralia-wide

Farms & Farm Machinery - - Contents -

Tor­nado Har­vester Air­flow Sys­tem

It was a spate of har­vester fires, a fact of life for Aussie pulse farm­ers, which brought the frus­trated farmer into the Hor­sham Hy­draulics work­shop two sum­mers ago.

The fam­ily com­pany’s op­er­a­tions di­rec­tor Eddy Nagor­cka says 2016 had been a bad year for har­vest fires – with heavy crops, volatile dust and no prior rains cre­at­ing the per­fect cir­cum­stances for a po­ten­tial blaze.

To pre­vent the risk of this hap­pen­ing, most farm­ers stop har­vest­ing a num­ber of times through­out the day to use an air com­pres­sor to blow dust out of the ma­chine.

“A cus­tomer came to us and said they were sick of blow­ing down their header all the time… They were blow­ing it down ev­ery half an hour, but within that pe­riod they were still hav­ing smoul­ders,” he says.

“They said they were sick of it, and can we put on some sort of air sys­tem that can blow away the dust while we are op­er­at­ing?”

The small team at Hor­sham Hy­draulics came up with a so­lu­tion that they fit­ted to the har­vester within a cou­ple of days and the re­sults, Eddy says, were out­stand­ing.

“They went to not hav­ing any smoul­ders or fires and the ma­chine was re­ally clean – and they’d only have to blow down the ma­chine at night, and there wasn’t much there to blow down,” he says.

That was the first one – and five more were to fol­low that sum­mer as word spread around about how the slapped to­gether kit had helped to save a lot of time dur­ing a busy har­vest sea­son.

“So after that we thought this was a mar­ketable prod­uct so we put a lot of time, ef­fort and money into de­vel­op­ing the prod­uct fur­ther to bring it onto the com­mer­cial scale,” Nagor­cka says.

“We put count­less hours into it, and we are still putting hours into it, there is al­ways some­thing to de­velop and im­prove, man­u­als to de­velop and that sort of thing. It is still on­go­ing.”

That prod­uct is now known as the Tor­nado Har­vester Air­flow Sys­tem, which took out the Agribusi­ness In­no­va­tion of the year prize last year’s Wim­mera Ma­chin­ery Field Days.

Un­like most ex­ist­ing fire sup­pres­sion sys­tems, the Tor­nado has the ben­e­fit of run­ning con­sis­tently to keep the har­vester clean.

“It doesn’t al­low any­thing to ac­cu­mu­late and sit on hot spots and start a fire. So it is a bit more pre­ven­ta­tive, and also cre­ates a boost in pro­duc­tiv­ity as well, be­cause the user isn’t hav­ing to get out and blow down the head­ers as fre­quently,” Nagor­cka says.

IN­SIDE THE TOR­NADO

The sys­tem uses a 6kW (8hp) fan that can move be­tween 1,500 and 2,000 cu­bic feet of air per minute – with the air pumped to high risk ar­eas such as the en­gine bay and ex­haust sys­tem by be­tween six and 12 dif­fer­ent out­lets.

It is con­nected to a cab-mounted dis­play, which al­lows the har­vester op­er­a­tor to check that the sys­tem is op­er­at­ing ef­fec­tively, and is cov­ered by a long-last­ing ven­ti­lated cover to pre­vent any ma­jor ob­struc­tions from en­ter­ing the fan.

The Tor­nado has come a long way from the 2016 model, with Hor­sham Hy­draulics team­ing with Dan­ish com­pany Dan­foss to de­velop a spe­cial hy­draulic valve to help run the fan, as well as im­prov­ing the hoses used and de­vel­op­ing new mount­ing brack­ets for the sys­tem.

It can also now be fit­ted onto 11 dif­fer­ent makes and mod­els of har­vester, with Nagor­cka say­ing the unit is mounted above the rear left hand wheel, be­tween it and the auger, on most mod­els.

“They are very ma­chine spe­cific, be­cause they have all got dif­fer­ent ar­eas that they need to con­cen­trate the air­flow on,” he says.

“Some mod­els are very sim­i­lar, so you use your man­u­als and all that stuff as your ba­sis and then change the bits

and pieces – it might be an ex­tra bracket or two – while some are com­pletely dif­fer­ent so you have to start from scratch.”

MAR­KET FO­CUS

De­spite a big mar­ket­ing cam­paign in 2017, which in­cluded road trips and field days, the take-up of the unit slowed a lit­tle in 2018 as the im­pact of drought con­di­tions was felt across Aus­tralia.

“So we have con­cen­trated this year on SA and WA, and we have got some sys­tems over in those ar­eas, so hope­fully next year all of Aus­tralia can have a pretty good year and we can im­prove,” he says.

In the mean­time, the com­pany has been build­ing its dis­trib­u­tor base where it can, work­ing with ma­chin­ery deal­ers and a reg­is­tered train­ing or­gan­i­sa­tion to train peo­ple to in­stall the sys­tem prop­erly.

This, Nagor­cka says, is for in­sur­ance rea­sons – with the com­pany ul­ti­mately aim­ing for the units to be fac­tored into an in­surer’s pol­icy con­sid­er­a­tions.

“We don’t want some­one dam­ag­ing the rep­u­ta­tion of the brand be­cause they are tak­ing short­cuts in in­stalling,” he says

“In­sur­ance is very in­ter­ested in this sys­tem, so we don’t want to undo all our hard work by tak­ing short­cuts on the qual­ity of the in­stal­la­tion.”

Work­ing with deal­ers that have up to 15 dif­fer­ent branches has been ben­e­fi­cial, he adds, be­cause it means po­ten­tial buy­ers are deal­ing with peo­ple they know and trust.

But be­cause the net­work is only about 10 months old,

Nagor­cka says the Hor­sham Hy­draulics of­fice is still field­ing new queries from farm­ers Aus­tralia-wide.

Not that he is com­plain­ing.

“They are ob­vi­ously pro­mot­ing it as well, but un­til peo­ple are very well aware that there is a dis­trib­u­tor net­work around they are ring­ing us,” he says.

“You get a sense of achieve­ment that peo­ple want some­thing you have de­vel­oped.”

Top (L-R): Eddy Nagor­cka, left, and Richard Nagor­cka, sec­ond right, de­vel­oped the Tor­nado in re­sponse to farmer de­mand; A Hor­sham Hy­draulics em­ployee fits a Tor­nado Har­vester Air­flow Sys­tem to aJohn Deere S770; Eddy Nagor­cka talks to a po­ten­tial cus­tomer at one of a se­ries of Field Days the com­pany vis­ited in 2017

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