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Magnum reloaded: An in-depth look at Case IH's latest tech-packed tractor

Since its launch in 1987 the evolution of Case IH’s Magnum tractor has predominantly seen it get bigger and more powerful.

 

However, as it gears up for the digital age, the latest incarnation is much more technology focused. James Rickard reports...

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The first major European public outing for the new Magnum range will be Agritechnica in November.
The first major European public outing for the new Magnum range will be Agritechnica in November.
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Magnum reloaded: An in-depth look at Case IH's latest tech-packed tractor

Representing more than just a development of one tractor range, the updates to Case IH’s latest Magnum sets a new cornerstone for the firm when it comes to control interface and electronics, updates which will eventually be rolled out across the rest of its tractor line-up.

 

And while it may not look like the firm has done much to the tractor from the outside, apart from adopting the Optum family styling, it is an entirely different story inside and underneath.

 

 

Re-christened the Magnum AFS Connect, the name reflects Case IH’s efforts to build on its suite of precision farming technology and take the new Magnum into a data-led farming era.

 

This extends to a complete redesign of the cab’s main elements; right hand armrest design, multi-functional lever, touch screen terminal and pillar-mounted dash, all adding up to the promise of increased features, functionality and connectivity. In addition, comfort, storage, visibility and secondary control layout have all come under the microscope for improvement.

 

Magnum AFS Connect range overview

Magnum model

280

310

340

380

Engine

8.7-litre, six-cylinder, FPT

8.7-litre, six-cylinder, FPT

8.7-litre, six-cylinder, FPT

8.7-litre, six-cylinder, FPT

Rated power (hp)

280

310

340

380

Maximum power with power management (hp)

351

382

409

435

Torque (Nm)

1,381

1,531

1,671

1,850

Maximum torque with power management (Nm)

1,558

1,708

1,800

1,850

Transmission

19 by four powershift or CVT

19 by four powershift or CVT

19 by four powershift or CVT

CVT only

Rear linkage lift capacity (kg)

8,843

9,705

10,929

10,929

Rowtrac version

No

No

Yes (CVT only)

Yes (CVT only)

 

As before, four models make up the range from 280hp (351hp maximum power) to 380hp (435hp maximum power). Oily bits are predominantly the same which sees 8.7-litre FPT engines used, married to a choice of the firm’s CVXDrive continuously variable transmission (CVT) or its 19 by four powershift. Two Rowtrac versions will also be available; the 340 and the 380.

 

Engines are now Stage 5 emissions compliant via a new selective catalytic reduction (SCR) and engine management system. Crucially, dimensions of the SCR canister remains the same and it is said to use similar amounts of AdBlue compared to Stage 4 models. It also means it does not require any diesel particulate filters or exhaust gas recirculation – a true after treatment, as the manufacturer puts it.


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Case IH's Autonomous Concept Vehicle (ACV).
Case IH's Autonomous Concept Vehicle (ACV).

In terms of technology, much of this was influenced by the development of the firm’s autonomous concept vehicle (ACV), based on a Magnum, which has had a big impact on guidance systems, sensors, communication and data transfer. In essence, this tractor has the building blocks of what it needs to be fully autonomous, or part thereof, as and when the market requires, says the manufacturer.

 

While its Maxxums and Pumas are volume sellers in Western Europe and high powered articulated Steigers in the Americas and Eastern Europe, it is the Magnum which straddles multiple markets and was therefore the model of choice by the firm to begin this step-changing technology roll-out. It is also a model in a segment which demands this type of technology, it adds.

 

To find out more, we headed to the home of the Magnum in Racine, Wisconsin, US, for an exclusive look behind the scenes.

Armrest controls

Armrest controls

Looking more like something out of a BMW or an Audi, one of the main new features of the redesigned armrest control interface is the use of encoder technology – essentially a rotary dial to navigate the terminal.

 

Taking pride of place in the centre of the armrest, it offers a physical navigation method of the new touch screen terminal. Surrounding this are shortcut buttons to key tractor functions, further speeding up set-up and convenience, says the manufacturer, especially when on the move.

 

However, at present there is only so much the encoder can do, which sees limited navigation and adjustment achievable. But, like the rest of the tractor, it is future proofed to have its repertoire expanded.

 

To make identification and their use easier, buttons are grouped and colour-coded into their respective functions; configurable buttons are silver, PTO yellow and engine and transmission orange.

 

Adding a bit of colour to the cab are the spool paddles which are colour coded by LEDs. Any of these paddles can be configured to control any spool, with their colour changing to match the correct spool.

 

Similarly, four programmable buttons can be assigned any function such as a spool, headland management activation and IsoBus control, for example. All assigning is done via the new touch screen terminal, which on the surface sounds daunting, but is actually relatively easy.

 

While it is a completely new armrest, several design cues have been carried over from the current version, resulting in an evolutionary design which will be familiar to current Case IH users, and not too taxing for non-Case IH operators.

Multi-function control lever

Multi-function control lever

Similar to the armrest controls, the lever is more of an evolutionary design bringing with it greater functionality and flexibility over its predecessor. But although its range of abilities has expanded, it still fits comfortably into the palm of your hand, and does not feel like a button-fest like some control levers have become.

 

The same lever and layout is used for both powershift- and CVT-equipped tractors. For the former, the lever acts as a throttle, while for CVT machines it becomes the ‘drive’ lever with engine revs taken care of via a split throttle.

 

For CVT machines, the lever still offers proportional drive control, a USP which sets it apart from much of the competition that use a return-to-centre style lever which you have to ‘pulse.’

 

On top of those on the armrest, a further four configurable buttons are incorporated into the lever. In addition, six buttons; four controlling two double-acting spools and two controlling rear linkage control, can also be assigned other functions. Effectively, just on the lever alone there are 10 configurable buttons.

 

Incorporated into the lever are controls for shuttle, transmission (gear selection on powershift models, and virtual range change on CVT models), linkage, two spools, auto-steer and headland management control.

 

As well as the main control lever, you can also specify a joystick which can be used to control various hydraulic functions, primarily the front linkage, and it also incorporates buttons for transmission control and shuttling. Additional assignable buttons add to its flexibility.

Connected

Connected

At the heart of the Magnum AFS Connect is the new AFS Pro 1200, 12 inch touch screen terminal. As well as providing access to all tractor features and functions, it is the gateway for all data management and transfer, cementing the tractor’s new connected credentials.

 

Much like a desktop computer, data files/folders, such as prescription maps and yield data, can be dragged and dropped to wherever it is needed. Data is transferred from the tractor, via an in-built 4G modem, to CNH Industrial’s cloud which is accessed by the manufacturer’s newly launched MyCaseIH.com portal.

 

Such is the ‘language’ the data uses, Case IH says the data is compatible with an ever increasing number of farm management systems, avoiding the need to translate the data. Via the portal, data can be channeled anywhere the customer needs, such as dealers, agronomists and suppliers, and the customer owns all the data and can decide who sees it.

 

Using a desktop, smartphone or tablet, several elements can be done remotely including planning for logistics and servicing, setup help, software updates and diagnostics.

 

From the manufacturer’s point of view, its aim is to offer a suit of technology which can be built on as and when required by the customer. From a user’s point of view, the terminal is a quantum leap away from its predecessor, in terms of its capability, and offers a high-end tablet-like user experience.

 

Perhaps a few more on-screen shortcuts would not go a miss, especially when you start delving into tractor set-up. This said, we will wait and see as to what the tractor is like in the real world when we get it for a test drive on UK soil.

Terminal features

Terminal features

There is no denying this tractor and its new terminal has more features and functions than you can shake a stick at. On top of all tractor settings, such as hydraulics, transmission and engine, a whole menagerie of functions can be setup, adjusted and controlled.

 

The screen is split up into various portions - some permanent, some configurable. The top portion is permanent, allowing access to all settings and user profiles, as well as displaying guidance and connectivity statuses.

 

To the left is a semi-permanent area, usually reserved for transmission status, but can be customised to show other data. Similar to before, the main portion of the screen can be taken up with one of seven ‘Run’ screens, effectively configurable home screens which you can set-up to display whatever you want.

 

Run screens are much easier to set up and you can pinch, drag, drop and expand until your heart is content. The ‘tiles’ within each of the run screens can then be tapped on, offering a full screen expansion and a shortcut to that function/feature for adjustment.

 

In terms of customisation, you may want one Run screen which shows tractor information (wheelslip, linkage position, fuel use, etc), or maybe you want one showing predominantly guidance information, or if using a compatible implement, maybe IsoBus information and control.

 

Other neat features include multiple camera views triggered by various actions, a colour 3D representation of the tractor on the guidance screen, and fully customisable lights.

 

Still to come is the firm’s AccuTurn Pro, which sees guidance and headland management system tied together for a completely automated headland sequence – something the firm has had on its Pumas and Optums for a while.

Cab

Cab

As well as control interface, several other aspects of the cab’s architecture have also changed, not least the dash. Gone is the bulky ‘A’ pillar display, replaced with a much more contemporary looking fixture.

 

Mounted in a portrait style, it shows all primary tractor information such as speed, engine rpm, fuel level, temperature, gear position, etc. It also has a big effect on perceived cab space, and along with the lighter interior colour scheme, the whole cab feels lighter and airier.

 

Cab frame remains the same, however, its five pillar design has been ousted in favour of four, which now sees a full-sized left hand door used. This brings with it greater visibility, the option of a left-hand wiper and more room for passengers.

 

As for security, finally, a manufacturer has come up with central locking. Via a key fob, you can either manually press a button to lock and unlock, or it can automatically do this based on your proximity to the tractor. Also, at night, the lights will come on as you approach the tractor, and will stay on for a certain period once you have locked the tractor.

 

For comfort, a new semi-active, four-point cab suspension has been developed which stabilises the cab, keeping it level. This is often experienced when cornering, during sudden acceleration or deceleration periods, and/or when a passenger is on board.

 

In the rear right hand corner of the cab, climate controls have migrated to the roof line and feature more automotive style controls. In doing so, this has opened up more storage space in the cab, boosted by a compartment underneath the passenger seat, which also includes a torch.

Clever braking

Clever braking

On top of the tractor’s adjustable steering rate, which can be operated in one of three modes; slow, medium and fast, Case IH has also developed a new brake-assisted steering system.

 

Acting like a ‘smart’ independent braking system, it was developed in response to customer feedback, particularly Rowtrac users who wanted tighter headland turns – in certain conditions the Rowtrac can ‘push on.’

 

It is available for both wheeled and Rowtrac versions of the Magnum. When turned on, it automatically engages the inside brake for tighter turns. This can be operated in standard mode, which only applies the inside brake if it detects slippage, or aggressive, which will actively assist with every turn.

 

It can also be integrated into a headland management sequence, only allowing its use at the headlands, and there is the option of a tyre pressure monitoring system.

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