Tractor of the Future’s tyres ‘increasingly connected’ – BKT
26 journalists with expertise in agricultural mechanisation are currently judging contenders for the European Tractor of the Year (TotY) award. Sponsor of the award, off-highway and agricultural tyre specialist BKT, says the details on innovations presented by entrants forms “the identikit of the perfect tractor.” The futuristic developments now available from many equipment manufacturers represent in their totality a vision for what will be possible in a single machine, BKT says. These innovations include data connectivity and digitalisation, high-tech safety features, increased sustainability, and autonomous driving, as well as tyres that assist in delivering such improvements in the field. The TotY sponsor calls its role “certainly the richest experience of 2020.”
Digital technologies and tractors
The growth in digital technologies has increased access to data, which can be used to bring together environmental, climatic, and land-related factors. Farmers can target interventions to increase the effectiveness and efficiency of their operations. The software systems installed on machines in the field return data with which it is possible to track and certify produce from the field through to the processing industry.
BKT adds that connectivity will be a valuable support also for the technical management of machines, forecasting their wear and tear for example and so planning the necessary maintenance, and hence a cost-saving process.
Safety and the comfort for the driver are also connected to digital mapping of the environment, climate, and type of terrain. Data on which the perfect machine will have to be capable of providing a response in real time, to protect the well-being of the driver, BKT says.
So, a simple unforeseen summer storm can be anticipated by the direct satellite connection to the cabin, thus changing the work schedule. In the same way climate change, through digital information, will show us other useful information, such as the need to change the pressure in the tyres for example, enabling ideal adaptation to changes in terrain. Finally, all the necessary information must be available inside the cabin, so everything is kept under control, and making it very easy to use.
At a rate dictated by environmental change, among new generation tractors, BKT finds electric vehicles, tractors powered by alternative energy sources, solar or hydrogen. Farmers must keep an eye on total costs in managing their cost-effectiveness, in terms of efficiency, consumption, and environmental impact. All stages which, if controlled through the technology, can be planned, and hence offer a better vision in terms of general sustainability.
Tractors will not only be connected in order to transfer data, they will be connected to remote consoles also to be able to work autonomously. Artificial intelligence will collect agronomic data from the sensors positioned directly in the field for example and the tractors can even have no cabin as there will be no driver. The next innovation we will see are engines which alternate hybrid and electric systems and semi-automatic tractors, which can even be controlled from a smartphone. The self-driving tractor will incidentally be available in the field before any other conventional vehicle on the road.
Future tractor tyres
In this scenario, BKT says the tyre industry is operating very flexibly thanks to its research, since the tyre is one of the fundamental components for vehicle performance, in global terms of environmental and economic sustainability.
The dialogue between the tyres and the machines is therefore a crucial point; an example of integration for the new generations of working vehicles are the sensors mounted on the tyre which can communicate to the vehicle the consumption of the tread or the compactness of the soil, in order to vary the tyre pressure and so avoid wear and tear.
BKT says its dialogue with its end users and with operators themselves, is now facing up to the change, reassured by its own experience but also with an openness to innovation, and is engaged in and proactive towards the best solutions.