It’s possible that technology is really taking over the farm conversation. The latest evidence is the launch of the new Case IHH AFS Connect Magnum tractor line. The brand change to include the AFS tag shows that this is a connected tractor — but interestingly, the announcement carried no information about the kinds of factors traditionally covered for a tractor introduction, including engine horsepower ranges and transmission information.
For this new tractor line, to be launched for 2020 but rolled out at the National Farm Machinery Show this month, the big changes may be under the hood, but they’re far more tech-related than linked to horsepower.
“The Magnum has eight models, from 180 to 380 horsepower,” says Bill Weber, Case IH high-horsepower marketing manager. “That’s the same lineup as the current models.”
The new Magnum is more than a refresh when the added technology is included. Consider this new model series as a jumping-off point for the company’s digital farming strategy. The new, bigger cab gets an advanced 12-inch AFS 1200 monitor that runs more like a tablet than previous systems. In addition to customizable screens, this is the entry point to the AFS system from the cab.
“The AFS Vision Pro operating system is Android-based,” Weber points out. “This is a familiar tool that farmers use on a daily basis.” He added that a look at the growing Android community shows that Google (creator of Android) holds a hefty 80% market share globally as an operating system. “And it’s an open platform,” he adds.
Consider the new AFS Connect Magnum as a rolling data machine that’s connected. The tractor can become a base of operations. The AFS Vision Pro operating system, combined with the AFS Vector Pro receiver, is designed to drive a higher-efficiency fleet with improved management.
Weber says that a farmer can be 100 miles away and still check in with an operator using the system. He adds that if that person has a problem, the farmer can get even better remote display access than the AFS system offered in the past. It’s an enhanced connection that even allows a remote viewer to put an “arrow” on the remote screen to point out specific issues, or help the operator “see” some action to complete. That same feature is available through a dealer who can help any user remotely — which can enhance service.
OPENING THE CAB: Long known for its high-visibility cab design, the latest Magnum model includes brighter displays and the AFS 1200 monitor (right). (Photo courtesy of Case IH)
Beyond the new nose, which signifies the redesigned Magnums, operators get a redesigned cab that uses a lighter “wheat” color scheme, offering a more open feel, Weber points out. Beyond the 12-inch display on the console, which can be supplemented with a second display as an option, there’s a column screen that’s significantly brighter than its predecessor, showing key engine information.
Weber says that Case IH engineers worked with automotive engineers at FCA — owners of Ram and Jeep and a related company to CNH Industrial — to bring the cab fit and finish to a higher standard.
The MultiControl armrest is refined, and it has eight control buttons and a MultiFunction handle with four programmable hot keys. There’s also an encoder knob at the operator’s fingertips.
The refined operating system in this tractor brings along some interesting features as well when it comes to controlling hydraulic remotes. A user can program which remotes perform which tasks, and match that to user preference. Say “Dad” prefers his remotes to toggle in a certain way when in the field, but “Son” prefers another. With this new tractor, users can each set their own profile and move to that preset when they enter the cab.
In addition, you can store implement profiles in the system, which can help during busy times. Using a tillage tool for seedbed prep, but have to make a quick changeover to a planter? Just unhook one and connect to the other. In the AFS 1200 monitor, select the implement you’re connected to, and your preset “rules” for that implement are ready to go. That’s after you do an initial setup.
Managing the fleet
The AFS Connect system will also provide visual data the farmer can use to manage an entire fleet of machines. Leo Bose, Case IH commercial training manager, explains that with the new system — which is backward-compatible to model 2019 machines — a farmer can know where those newest machines are working in the operation, and boost efficiency with tending and fleet support.
Information access has also been enhanced. “You can provide a trusted adviser field-level access to information using email,” he explains. “That adviser can have access to that information for as long as you like, for a few days or the entire season.”
Bose also notes that updates to the tractor no longer require the dealer to come out to the farm with laptop in hand. Updates to software can happen automatically — when the tractor isn’t in operation — to provide enhanced service for the machine. And over time, this can be valuable, as Case IH analyzes machine data that can help boost efficiency. For example, if those data show a different profile would work in a continuously variable transmission to boost fluid efficiency, that revised profile could be loaded into the machine remotely.
Case IH has a stated focus on automation for the future. “We continue to work with Bolthouse Farms on autonomous tractors, and we’re working on the next phase,” he says. Adding that fully autonomous machinery is still in the future, this new platform is designed with that driverless future in mind.
Learn more about the AFS Vision Pro system and the new AFS Connect Magnum tractor at caseih.com.