During its Tech Day, held December 7-8, 2022, CNH Industrial highlighted its latest technology advancements for agricultural equipment. Progress within the precision technology space was a key focus for the company, as well as developments in automation, electrification, digital technology and alternative fuels.
CNH Industrial is the parent company for four construction and agricultural brands:
- CASE Construction Equipment
- New Holland Construction
- Case IH
- New Holland Agriculture.
Within all four of these brands the company has made major advancements in the aforementioned technologies.
In September, its Case IH brand introduced what is considered to be the world's first autonomous spreader. Equipped with technology from Raven Industries — which CNH acquired in 2021 — the Case IH Trident 5550 applicator enables driverless operation to help farmers increase their productivity and overcome labor challenges.
Autonomy is a key area of focus for many OEMs in the agricultural equipment industry due to the benefits it can provide farmers who are being tasked with feeding a growing global population. Enabling driverless operation of machines frees farmers up to focus on other tasks. It also ensures they can remain productive even if not able to find and hire as much labor as might otherwise be necessary.
Development of alternative power systems is important as well to help make farming operations more sustainable. Not only does use of electric machines and alternative fuel reduce emissions but also costs as some fuels can be produced onsite and with electrification there is often less maintenance which needs to be done.
CNH is forecasting a 10-15% annual growth rate over the next 2-3 years, which should benefit the fluid power segment as agriculture is a key industry particularly for hydraulic components. Even as electrification and automation — areas in which CNH says it intends to pursue sales growth — progress, there will remain a need for fluid power components in many cases.
The following technology launches made by CNH during its Tech Day demonstrate the ongoing advancements taking place in the agricultural industry.
Automation and Autonomy Solutions Added to Portfolio
Several solutions related to automation and autonomy were introduced at CNH's Tech Day. These included:
- Driverless Tillage
- Driver Assist Harvest
- Baler Automation
“The agriculture industry is faced with the challenges of time, costs, constrained operational windows, and a dwindling labor force. Autonomy will become an integral part of farmers’ operations everywhere,” said Derek Neilson, President, Agriculture, in a press release from CNH announcing the new technologies. “We believe that Autonomy and Automation technologies are fundamental to the future of farming. They cover all farmer segments and drive real world benefits.”
The new Driver Assist Harvest solution integrates Raven Autonomy with Case IH's harvest technology, enabling the system to chart the path and speed of the tractor pulling the grain cart alongside a combine harvester during an ‘unload on the go’ operation explained CNH in its press release. The tractor is kept in sync with the combine harvester, helping to improve efficiency of the operation while also simplifying it. It will be available for both Case IH and New Holland Agriculture brands.
Driverless tillage allows remote operation from outside of an operator cab through use of an advanced Perception System and Remote Command & Control capability from Raven. Farmers can plan and execute tillage with precision and monitor operations from anywhere.
Baler Automation on New Holland large square balers is enabled through a new technology which utilizes a lidar sensor. Per CNH, the windrow in front of the tractor is scanned for density, volume and direction. The tractor and baler then use this input to automatically control steering, forward speed and baler settings to ensure the baler follows the windrow precisely for accurate crop feeding. This allows for an optimized bale shape as well as increased productivity and comfort for farmers. The feature will also be available on Case IH balers.
“We’re on the road to full autonomy. We focus on delivering an autonomous tech stack that scales across all production cycles for the cash crop segment: crop preparation, planting/seeding, crop care, harvest, hay, and forage. Focusing on automation and autonomy is not taking farmers out of farming it’s making their machines more productive with functional automation,” said Parag Garg, CNH Industrial Chief Digital Product Officer, in the company's press release. “Our focus is to make the Precision Technology on our equipment so smart, that the customer can focus on the farm and let CNH Industrial take care of rest.”
New Electric and Autonomous Tractor Unveiled
CNH also introduced its new all-electric light utility tractor prototype which includes autonomous features, the New Holland T4 Electric Power. The tractor features an electric motor with peak power up to 120 hp and a maximum torque of 440 Nm. It includes four-wheel drive and a maximum speed of 40 km/h, enabling farmers to remain as productive as if the machine were powered by a diesel engine but with the benefit of producing zero emissions.
A full day of operation is possible on a single charge with the battery pack, depending on the use case for the tractor. The battery can be recharged to 100% in an hour when a commercially available fast charging system is utilized. Electric implements can be used with the tractor as well as traditional mechanical, hydraulic and PTO powered implements.
According to CNH, the tractor is capable of providing greater traction control and smoother shuttling while reducing operating costs up to 90% by using electric instead of diesel power. Noise is reduced up to 90% as well, and vibrations are greatly minimized.
Built into the roof of the T4 Electric Powe are sensors, cameras and control units for autonomous capabilities. The tractor can be remotely activated using a smartphone app while a Shadow Follow Me mode enables machines to be synced to work in tandem with one another. There is a 360-degree perception system included as well to detect and avoid obstacles, ensuring operational safety.
CNH expects to begin commercial production of the tractor at the end of 2023; it will be available from both the New Holland and Case IH brands.
The company was able to develop the tractor in half the usual time due to a collaboration with Monarch Tractor, a developer of electric and autonomous tractors which the company formed a strategic partnership with in 2021.
The T4 Electric Power features similar styling to CNH's other alternatively powered agriculture equipment, the New Holland T6 Methane Power and T7 Methane Power LNG — also launched during its Tech Day.
Electrification Center Opened in Detroit
CNH announced at its Tech Day the opening of a new technical center in metro Detroit which will support its electrification development efforts. The center is expected to enhance its technology capabilities, aided by the fact the facility is near a nationwide hub for electrification OEMs and suppliers.
Several automakers and suppliers are located in the area, many of whom are focused on developing electrification solutions such as GM.
The new technical center will work together with the company's existing electrification site in San Matteo, Italy. New alternative energy solutions for both construction and agricultural applications will be researched at the center.
“This new location underlines our commitment to growing our electric vehicle and subsystem profile, and marks yet another milestone after successfully expanding our in-house team,” said Marc Kermisch, Chief Digital and Information Officer and ad interim Chief Technology & Quality Officer, CNH Industrial, in the company's press release announcing the new facility. “Under one roof our team can now leverage cross-functional and cross-sector expertise at both component and machine level. The result sees us becoming more customer-focused and building mission-fit electrified drivetrains and high voltage systems.”