A shared harvest...

Oct. 1, 2002
Concern for quality, productivity and the latest technology creates unique partnership between agricultural equipment manufacturer and machine builder

John Deere is the world's leading producer of agricultural equipment. Founded in 1837, John Deere products and employees have built a worldwide reputation for integrity, quality, commitment and innovation. Today, Deere is a Fortune 100 company with a global presence and a worldwide perspective. The company has manufacturing facilities in Europe, Asia and North and South America. Deere markets products in more than 150 countries and is committed to delivering the world's finest solutions and genuine value in equipment, service and support—on time, every time.

John Deere Brasil S.A. has a long history of achievement in the manufacture of agricultural equipment. Founded originally as SLC in 1945, the company grew through the years and manufactured Brazil's first combine in 1965. Eventually, SLC captured the attention of agricultural equipment giant John Deere, which purchased 20 percent of SLC's shares in 1979. In 1996, John Deere purchased another 20 percent of SLC and began production of agricultural tractors in Brazil. In 1999, John Deere purchased the remaining 60 percent of SLC and the name of the company changed to John Deere Brasil S.A.

Today, of all the agricultural machines working in the Brazilian fields, 50 percent are John Deere (combined with the original SLC models). John Deere Brasil S.A. exports many of its products throughout Central and South America as well as Europe. In fact, the company exports 60 percent of the combines manufactured in Brazil.

The main factories of John Deere Brasil are located in Horizontina, Rio Grande do Sul, in the southwestern part of the country near the Argentina border. In two of these factories, 1,700 employees manufacture various models of agricultural tractors, combine harvesters, platforms, header and planting equipment. As Gerson Ricardo Pohl, business opportunities and Internet, explains, all equipment produced at the Horizontina facilities are guided by the John Deere corporate philosophy firmly in mind: "I will never put my name on a product that does not have in it the best that is in me."

To manufacture these products, John Deere Brasil has a wide variety of metalworking equipment, including stamping presses, machining centers, CNC lathes, MIG welders, rolling machines, coil cut-to-length lines, lasers, oxy-fuel cutting machines, press brakes, shears and turret punch presses. For example, this year the company installed a Finn-Power F Express Flexible Manufacturing Unit that automatically loads sheet onto a turret punch press, punches and forms the sheet and then unloads the fabricated part.

High-speed laser

In one of the John Deere Brasil facilities, the company produces combines. This combine-manufacturing center produces approximately 10,000 different parts, 2,500 of which are replacement parts for existing John Deere combines. In early 2002, a Finn-Power FPL-6 LaserWork Center (see Figure 1) with load/unload went into production. According to Dirceu Luiz Dal Bianco, production engineer DISE, "We chose the Finn-Power FPL-6 for its high speed and high productivity, the Ping-Pong repositioning and the load/unload. This was our first contact with this type of a laser system."

Figure 1. The FPL-6 laser is designed with digitally controlled linear drive motor technology to allow maximum speeds, even when making small notches or narrow contours.
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The FPL-6 is a breakthrough in sophisticated high-speed laser cutting for sheet metal fabrication, creating enhanced production with superior speed, accuracy and part quality.

Figure 2. Ping Pong repositioning movement allows smooth and efficient transitions for increased productivity.
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The system is designed using innovative linear drive motor technology that allows maximum speeds, even when making small notches or narrow contours, which provides high-speed performance, contour accuracy and process safety. This laser system employs a flying optics system with a working area of 3000 mm X axis, 1500 mm Y axis and 100 mm Z axis. Maximum positioning speed of the X/Y axes, simultaneously, is up to 300 m/min. Finn-Power's unique Ping Pong repositioning movement, shown in Figure 2, allows smooth and efficient transitions for increased productivity. In conventional repositioning, the head moves in straight lines, taking extra time just to position the cutting head.

"Today we estimate that cutting with oxygen, the Finn-Power laser is approximately 30-percent faster than our other two lasers," says Dal Bianco. "As we learn more about the machines, we expect this to increase to about 40–45 percent. When we switch to nitrogen as a fuel source, we expect the Finn-Power laser to be about 50-percent faster."

NC Express software

The Finn-Power FPL-6 Laser Work Center is programmed with the NC Express software, a user-friendly, integrated and automated tool for managing Finn-Power equipment in the most efficient manner available. NC Express is a tooling, nesting and optimizing software package designed to easily integrate into an existing manufacturing environment, taking full advantage of the CAD design database. It may be used as a single part drafting and tooling program or as a fully automated machine tool management system. Either way the results are the same—optimized automatic N/C code creation.

This article was adapted from one that appeared in Volume 12 of Finn-ish Line, a biannual publication from Finn-Power International (Schaumburg, IL), www.finn.power.com.

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