I logged a lot of travel miles last
week. About 10,000, actually. And that’s not an exaggeration. I flew
to Germany for a week of meetings and events spread out from
Frankfurt to a small town called Marktoberdorf near the Austrian
border. So it was several days of planes, trains and automobiles. But
it was well worth the effort.
It all started with an invitation to
attend the grand opening of Fendt’s new tractor assembly plant in
Marktoberdorf, a picturesque town near the Alps. But if I was going
to fly all the way to Europe for that one event, it made sense to
look around and see if there were some other machinery stories I
could develop during the trip. Of course, there were.
Sometimes I need to pinch myself to
believe I have a job that lets my fly around the world to get
first-hand looks at new tractor models and the state-of-the-art
assembly plants where they’re built. But I’m willing to sacrifice
myself and do that so I can bring the information back for you to
read in the pages of Grainews!
While I was on the other side of the
Atlantic, I also met with the people at DLG, the German Agricultural
Society, who organize Agritechnica, the world’s largest farm
machinery show. You may have read my daily show reports in this blog
during last year’s event. The next biannual show isn’t until November
2013, but planning for it is already underway at the DLG head office.
I managed to get an exclusive look at the preparations for 2013 and
hear first hand what it takes to put this show together. Look for a
report on it in an upcoming issue of Country Guide.
The day after I spent time with the
Agritechnica staff, Malene Conlong, DLG’s international media and
communications manager, and I took a train out to a small community
south of Frankfurt to see the organization’s equipment test centre,
which is Germany’s equivalent of the Nebraska Tractor Test Lab. But
this facility does a whole lot more.
After a thorough look around the test
centre, we took in a traditional German meal with a couple of the
staff members. From there it was back to the train station to head
south to Bavaria to make it to the Fendt factory.
This 300 Series model waits in the
final inspection station at the end of the state-of-the-art assembly
line at Fendt’s new Marktoberdorf Germany tractor assembly plant.
And did I mention Fendt blended the
opening of its new factory with the launch of a new tractor series,
the 500? These models were launched for the European market last
week. Reid Hamre, Fendt’s product marketing manager for North
America, says the tractor will eventually be available here. But it
will take some time to get a dedicated North American model ready.
There is more to introducing the same model on two continents than
you might think.
European engineering standards are a
little different than the ASABE (American Society of Agricultural and
Biological Engineers) standardized specifications North American
tractors conform to. So, companies need to create two versions of the
same tractor. That doesn’t happen overnight.
It will be “at least several months”
before North American farmers can even think about ordering one, Reid
says, but we’ll give you a preview in the pages of Grainews of what
you can expect when the tractor finally does become available here.
So keep an eye out for the November and
December issues of Grainews. There’s a lot to see.
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