Towed agricultural equipment has a hard-working life. Shocks and loads are typical mechanical stresses associated with all aspects of farming, from ploughing to harvesting. Trailers, rollers, ploughs, mowers, rakes and balers require strong construction to ensure maximum reliability and secure overall return on harvest. This level of fabrication can take time though, so businesses are now offering manufacturers of towed equipment a way to expediate fabrication with the inclusion of curved metal elements.
As anyone in steel fabrication knows, welding takes time. While welds are required in most towed equipment, minimising them can expediate the fabrication process. A viable alternative is to instead use curved metals, which offer a comparatively fast production process. Using a bending machine, such as a press brake or a roller, metals can be precision curved to design specification without employing multiple welds. As well as offering faster production, bending can offer more value to the customer than multiple welds, as less operator input is required. Furthermore, as the bending process can be conducted with high repeatability, it is more suitable for servicing the high quantity orders associated with large scale manufacturing.
But where can you utilise curved steel sections in towed agricultural equipment, and what are its specific benefits?
In chassis construction, press braked, high strength materials such as Hardox can be processed by some equipment in lengths up to 12 metres, with a maximum pressing capability up to 1000 tonnes. This can serve to eliminate welds across the design, while also allowing the use of a stronger metal in the chassis which can be challenging and time consuming to weld. The result is a stronger chassis overall, improving the service life and return on investment (ROI) of the equipment in question.
Another suitable application is in material flow. Chutes and pipes which are induction bent instead of welded ensure a more laminar flow of material within equipment (e.g. a wood chipper) which helps to reduce wear over an extended period. Again, this translates to greater reliability in operation. Tubes and pipes can be induction or mandrel bent to specific requirements, suitable to fit almost any design and application requirement.
Despite agricultural equipment being designed to promote overall reliability and durability, nobody can deny that towed equipment has become more aesthetically pleasing in modern times, as new manufacturing and fabrication techniques allow brands to indulge in distinctive design language. Precision curved steel offers an advantage in this regard, as it offers a more organic look than a frame section with multiple welds. By specifying curved metal, manufacturers and fabricators can ensure their product offers a truly modern design aesthetic.
Barnshaws is a UK metal bending company, with a proven track record in the construction, civil, sculpture and transport sectors. While curved metal is a feature in many of these industries, it has been slow to catch on in the agricultural sector. Precision curved steel’s combination of expediated production, high repeatability and application versatility presents an opportunity to manufacturers of towed agricultural equipment to increase time efficiency and add value to their production activities.
Author: Matthew Pritchard, group project manager at Barnshaws Section Benders, explores the benefits curved steel can provide to manufacturers of towed agricultural equipment.