Rubber tracks have value for many reasons, from increased flotation to less compaction. They also have some limits, like the ability to heat up if roaded too fast, or run too hard in the field. And often you don’t know you’ve overheated the track until the damage has been done.
Two track makers are ramping up their efforts on that issue; both are pushing toward the idea of embedded sensors that measure heat and report it to the operator. Camso, formerly Camoplast Solideal, and Continental both showed off embedded sensor tech during Agritechnica in November. Camso appears closer to market with its announcement that smart track technology will be used for measuring temperatures during high-speed roading. Continental was showing its prototype track during the show (using a heat lamp that showed how easily its sensor could capture temperature changes).
Camso and an app
Camso is the brand behind rubber track and track systems for a wide range of manufacturers. Martin Lunkenbein, Camso service and aftermarket sales executive director-agriculture, was visibly excited when talking about the company’s new sensor systems.
“We can measure the temperature of the track and alert the operator to back off the speed if needed,” he explains. “With higher roading speeds and fields far away from each other, farmers are looking to operate at maximum transport efficiency.”
AN APP FOR THAT: Martin Lunkenbein, Camso, shows off an app developed by industry partner Claas. The app interfaces with the Camso smart track sensor, and can also predict track life and alert users to overheat conditions.
He says that having that alert can add life to the track. In addition, Camso and one original equipment manufacturer (OEM) partner, Claas, have developed an app — still a prototype — that communicates with the sensor-embedded track. “The app can alert you if you're running too hot,” Lunkenbein says. “But it can also show you other information about your track use.”
He showed a screen of the prototype app that could predict track life based on current use patterns. That’s a factor many farmers would find useful.
The Camso track is part of the TerraTrac system on Claas machines. The sensor tech and app are destined for launch in 2018, though timing was not announced. For more information about Camso products, visit camso.co.
Over at Continental, maker of Trackman tracks, the idea of embedded sensors was also on display. This prototype display showed the embedded track, though the timeline for launch was not specified.
SHOWING A PROTOTYPE: The heat lamp, left, is focused on the sensor in the Continental Trackman track prototype. The screen at the right is a demonstration screen showing what an operator may see in the machine if track temperature changes.
Dennis Hare, Continental director of sales and marketing, rubber tracks and specialty ag products, says the sensors will help manage temperature issues. “Tracks can run hot, and this is a way to know that before there is damage,” he explains. “We're asking tracks to do more, to carry more and to go faster.”
That necessitates a way to track temperature before damage can occur. The company showed off its proprietary track-condition monitoring concept at Agritechnica. The system uses a microchip molded into the tread of the track that communicates directly with a user-friendly monitor in the cab, which can provide operators real-time data.
In this way, operators are able to know if the track is heating up, and they can slow down as needed. The aim is to avoid downtime. And with the information, Continental also sees the potential for predictive maintenance, so users can respond and fix problems before downtime occurs during a busy season.
Learn more about Trackman track by visiting continentaltrackman.com.