Sending out a message to the industry, Deutz-Fahr’s newest factory shows it is here for the long haul. James Rickard reports.
Not becoming a full-liner, sticking to what they are good at, and future proofing tractor production were just a few of the key messages spelt out by Deutz-Fahr at its recent factory unveiling in Lauingen, Germany.
Dubbed ‘Deutz-Fahr Land’, the new facility also includes a visitor’s centre and cost 90m Euros to develop. Built on a green field site adjacent to its old factory, a recent visit revealed the lengths the manufacturer has gone to with the development of its newest facility, which would not look out of place producing spacecraft.
Featuring the latest manufacturing techniques and technology, the fully automated paint shop alone cost 20m Euros. Factory design priorities were to keep lead times to a minimum – a tractor can be assembled in about 16 hours - and keep quality as high as possible. Several quality control gates are situated along the 700m assembly line, with a final test station which can automatically run through all tractor functions, including a moving platform which checks front axle/suspension articulation.
In addition, 10 per cent of tractors are put through an intensive three hour audit, which includes a run out on the companies’ test track.
For visitors, the new ‘Arena’ allows the firm’s product portfolio to be showed off to large groups of people and enables training and testing for Deutz-Fahr staff. It also features a museum, cinema and restaurant.
Building of the facilities began in 2014, with full production of tractors commencing this January. Tractors assembled here include 6, 7 and 9 Series models ranging from 120hp to 340hp. In 2018, Deutz-Fahr’s latest machine, the 11 Series, as previewed at the last Agritechnica in 2013, will also be built here. All tractor models are built on the same assembly line.
The new factory is capable of producing about 5,000 to 6,000 tractors per year, depending on model, on a single shift. Future proofing of the factory includes its ability to produce even larger tractors in the future, pointing towards the possibility that Deutz-Fahr may enter the 450hp to 600hp market segment.
Unlike several other manufacturers recently such as CNH, Agco and Kubota, which are all climbing over themselves to be a ‘full liner’, SDF is categorically steadfast it does not want to buy any implement manufacturers.
It does, however, have an agreement with Kuhn in certain regions to offer its balers branded as Deutz-Fahr, and until recently it had an agreement with Kverneland to offer a range of grassland equipment.
SDF’s CEO, Lodovico Bussolati explains; “For the dealer, this means they are free to pick and choose which implement franchises they take on, rather than being forced to take on certain products which they may not want.”
Mr Bussolati adds; “To be competitive, we want to be a specialist at producing tractors and combines. Even though tractor sales are decreasing, the total horse power sold is very similar year on year. As a result, our new factory is equipped to produce larger and more technologically advanced tractors in the future, not necessarily higher numbers of units.”