Several years ago, John Deere was one of the earliest brands to give the digital component of its equipment a strong emphasis. Without a doubt they were ahead of all the major brands, which have since recognized the growing importance of that technology.
Now, Deere is again getting ahead of curve by using the data that can be captured and shared through its digital JDLink system for another unique purpose: It’s giving customers in Europe fuel-use and uptime guarantees.
Deere can use JDLink to keep track of customers’ tractor performance and monitor their fuel consumption. With that data, the company can offer buyers a fuel-use guarantee.
Buyers of 6R, 7R and 8R tractors in Europe will actually get a money-back assurance that their tractors will meet fuel-use targets
“Customers will be refunded during the first full year of ownership if total fuel consumption has exceeded the John Deere target level,” reads the program announcement.
“And that’s not all — if the operator achieves a higher fuel efficiency than the target level, owners will receive an efficiency bonus equal to twice the cost of the fuel saved.”
“If we don’t meet it, we pay you back,” Thomas Höglmeier, segment manager for John Deere, explained to journalists during the Agritechnica machinery show in Hanover, Germany. “We measure it with our telematics. Fuel represents 50 per cent of (European) contractors’ costs.”
Contractors (or custom operators as we’d call them) are a big target customer group for Deere over there. To lure them over to the green brand, this isn’t the only guarantee Deere is willing to make. It will also ensure tractors keep working and not go down for repairs.
“Arable farmers aren’t so much focused on fuel,” Höglmeier said. “They focus on uptime.”
To qualify for that uptime guarantee, buyers will have to opt for a full maintenance contract. But that’s one more aspect that allows owners to know exactly what their yearly equipment costs will be. And mechanics will be around to make periodic inspections to keep machines going.
“Dealers are doing in-field visits optimizing our machines,” added Höglmeier.
If a tractor does go down, the dealer will have to provide owners with a backup replacement to keep farm operations going.
Deere claims its engineers have done so much testing on individual components, that they can predict the typical life cycle of many different parts. Customers who buy the service agreement will see local dealership mechanics coming out to replace parts based on that schedule, even if they’re still working.
“We can predict part life and replace them just before they fail,” said Deere’s Georg Lanschied during the same presentation. “We’ve tested this a lot so we can be sure we’re not replacing parts for no reason.”
So far, this guarantee has only been announced in Europe, but there is a strong likelihood it will soon appear in Canada and the U.S. as well.
And just like this announcement, Deere also debuted two new 6R Series tractors at Agritechnica for the European market. The 6230R and 6250R offer 230 and 250 horsepower, respectively, pushing the top end of the 6R lineup significantly from its current 215-engine horsepower limit.
Like the guarantee programs, the new 6Rs are expected to soon appear on this side of the Atlantic.
These models offer a high horsepower-to-weight ratio of 31 kilograms (68 pounds) per horsepower at their base chassis weight of 9.3 tonnes, but they can be ballasted up to 15 tonnes for heavy fieldwork. That pushes the ratio up to over 130 pounds per horsepower to improve traction.
These models use an updated version of Deere’s AutoPowr transmission. When roading, the AutoPowr achieves a 50-km/hr-road speed at just 1,630-engine r.p.m. Or it will do 40 km/hr at 1,300 r.p.m. to save fuel. Power comes from a 6.8-litre PowerTech PSS six-cylinder diesel with dual turbochargers. Deere claims this engine-transmission combination and its “advanced DPF and SCR” emissions systems offers a two to three per cent improvement in total fluid consumption.