Before a new tractor is delivered to the farmer, it first goes from the factory to the dealership. There, before delivering it to the customer, the so-called zero inspection, i.e. PDI inspection. We visited Pol-Agra, a New Holland dealership, to trace the PDI of a modern tractor.
The PDI (pre-delivery inspection), that is to say the inspection before delivery, is generally entrusted to an experienced mechanic. In Pol-Agra, such a person is, among others, Emil Górnicki, who in mid-February 2022 was preparing a New Holland T7.270 AutoCommand tractor to hand over to a farmer.
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Why do today’s tractors, manufactured in modern factories and subjected to rigorous testing, need to be re-inspected before being released to farmers? Contrary to appearances, the answers are very simple. First of all, transporting a tractor from the factory to the dealership is always a risk of unforeseen events. Second, the tractor can wait more than a year at the dealership, which leads to a natural need to inspect its condition. Also, during this time, new versions of the software may need to be installed.
One should not combine the PDI inspection of the tractor with its so-called first start and handover to the farmer. These are two different issues, although inextricably linked to each other. Many people with a zero inspection don’t even know it, but after buying a tractor, they are prepared for its so-called first run.
– For many years we have been organizing training for operators of New Holland tractors and combines. We invite customers to our company and with the help of specialists from the Polish branch of CNH, we provide them with technical knowledge related to the operation of the donated equipment. These meetings take place before the equipment is handed over, so that the farmer is prepared and familiar with the operation on the day it is received. Some systems, such as automatic piloting based on satellite navigation, are started with the customer in the field after aggregation with a given machine, because in this case it is the most effective learning – explains Arkadiusz Janczarek, manager service at Pol-Agra.
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Point by point
Let’s go back to the inspection of the New Holland T7.270 AutoCommand tractor carried out by a Pol-Agra service technician based in Płońsk. He used the prepared PDI procedure in the form of a list with items to check. These included components and tasks such as: operating fluid levels, engine, clutch, transmission, front and rear drive axles, PTO, wheels, cab air conditioning and electrical, braking, hydraulic and steering systems. The tractor checked was not equipped with an automatic and telematic steering system, so their evaluations were not carried out. Instead, it had factory prep for these systems.
“Today almost 80% of the New Holland T7 tractors we sell are factory prepared for an automatic steering system in the form of an orbitrol with solenoid valves, sensors and wiring harnesses. Such a tractor can be quickly fitted with a satellite navigation receiver and the software for autopilot can be activated at any time – explains Emil Górnicki.
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We are not going to walk through the steps of zero inspection because many of them, such as checking the oil level and operating the hydraulic valves, are simple tasks. However, doing them allows you to be sure that the tractor is working properly and you just have to do it. The PDI inspection of a New Holland T7.270 AutoCommand tractor takes the mechanic a full working day. The work therefore takes time. Above all, after checking each of the nearly 150 points, the service technician finally saves his assessment in the cloud. This allows bosses to supervise employees and the manufacturer to collect tractor condition data collected by dealers.
Tires with a
From the long list of activities to be carried out during the PDI inspection, we have selected a few that are interesting and noteworthy in our opinion. Let’s start with the tires, as these are important and often underestimated parts of an agricultural tractor. The New Holland T7.270 AutoCommand was equipped with Michelin XeoBib VF tires, size 710/60 R42 (rear axle) and 600/60 R30 (front axle). These tires are made in UltraFlex technology, which allows them to operate at 40% lower pressure than traditional tires. Its latest version, with the numbers 1 on the sides of the protectors, invites you to inflate them to a pressure of around 1 bar. This was also done on the Pol-Agra website.
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To accurately determine the tire pressure of the front and rear axles, use the Michelin Pressure Calculator mobile application. After providing the data on the axle loads of the tractor and the aggregate equipment, we will obtain optimal pressure values that will allow us to fully use the potential of the tires made in the UltraFlex technology. Emil Górnicki, while adjusting the tire pressure, checked the tightening torques of the bolts in the rims with a torque wrench.
Two electronic control units
The New Holland T7.270 AutoCommand has two electronic units that control its components, systems and functions. In technical terminology, these specialized computers enclosed in solid cases are abbreviated as ECU (Electronic Control Unit). On a New Holland T7.270 AutoCommand tractor, the electronic engine control unit (ECU) is mounted on the AdBlue tank under a cover. The electric pump of said urea solution is also located here. This information will be useful in the event of a problem with the SCR system due to the spillage of dirty liquid in its tank. This is where we find the AdBlue filter whose cartridge is not cleaned, but replaced by a new one.
Why do we provide engine driver location information in the PDI inspection article? We take this opportunity to remind you that it is worth cleaning it at least once a year so that the electronics inside have better working conditions. The best solution is to blow this area with compressed air. Attention, do not use water, because it is known, they are electronic components.
Another electronic control unit, the New Holland T7.270 AutoCommand tractor ECU, is responsible for the operation of all other components, systems and functions of the tractor. It is concealed under a cover behind the operator’s seat. It is not necessary to remove the dust here. There are 2 CAN diagnostic connectors allowing communication with the electronic modules of the tractor. The first gives you access to control the tractor’s EHR and BRK hydraulic braking systems, and the second lets you manage satellite navigation and automatic steering. The main diagnostic connector is also located inside the cab, but higher on the right rear pillar. Its use requires no cover removal and is immediately available.
– New Holland T7.270 AutoCommand has three diagnostic connectors. After connecting to one of them via the laptop adapter with the service program, I select the tractor model and access its electronic control units. During the PDI examination, I check for error codes and software version. If a given update is available, I upload it to the tractor ECU – explains Emil Górnicki.
Calibration after update
During the PDI inspection of the New Holland T7.270 AutoCommand tractor, it was found to have the main ECU module software version 1.13, the latest being version 1.14. Therefore, the mechanic downloaded the update, which in this case took a few minutes. This resulted in the need to calibrate the tractor gearbox. No wonder, because it is an AutoCommand continuously variable transmission, the operation of which is controlled electrohydraulically. In order to calibrate it, which is also carried out each time after changing the transmission oil, a special device is connected to the diagnostic connector on the cabin pillar.
The HH menu is then activated via the dashboard display below the steering wheel, allowing you to select one of the tractor components. After entering the gear icon, its calibration begins. Emil Górnicki also checked the assignment of the hydraulic sockets to the hydraulic buttons located on the rear fenders. Of the five pairs of hydraulic valves mounted on the rear of the tractor, one set is intentionally vertical, as it is used to connect the upper hydraulic bar. The Pol-Agra company mechanic made sure the fender buttons were programmed to make it work.
Good service is important
This article further demonstrates the importance of a dealer in the decision-making process when choosing a new tractor. It is his employees who play an extremely important role from the moment of selecting the tractor’s equipment, through its preparation for handover to the farmer, to the first start-up and training at the end of the production stage. ‘purchase. Of course, the after-sales service is also of great importance, especially the efficient and prompt service when using the tractor.
Therefore, when buying a tractor, it is worth paying attention not only to the manufacturer, but also to the quality of its dealer. The very act of performing a zero check has a significant impact on the trouble-free operation of a new tractor. This importance increases in direct proportion to the amount of electronics in the vehicle. The more there are, the more important the role of the service technician. He must have up-to-date knowledge in this field and appropriate diagnostic equipment.
- The article was published in “Agricultural Technical Review”. SUBSCRIBE