Custom-designed engine sweetens the deal for harvester company

  • When developing the Tiger 6S – one of the largest and most productive sugar beet harvesters – manufacturer ROPA turned to its long-time engine partner to develop exactly the kind of reliable, immensely powerful and high-torque/low RPM power source it could depend upon

When family-owned German manufacturer ROPA Fahrzeug- und Maschinenbau GmbH was designing one of the world’s largest and most advanced sugar beet harvesters, it collaborated with Volvo Penta to ensure its Tiger 6S would have the power and torque to support a daily haul of around 2000 tonnes, while working as reliably and efficiently as possible.

Beets are the source of around 20% of the 176 million tonnes of sugar consumed annually around the world. Germany is one of the world’s top five growers of sugar beets, producing over 4 million tonnes of the sugar that is used and consumed each year.

Every moment of suitable weather in the short timeframe between late September or early October is crucial for harvesting beets before the soil freezes in Europe – a concern not faced by sugar cane producers in warmer, tropical climates. Beets must therefore be extracted as swiftly and efficiently as possible with the most reliable equipment.

Volvo Penta adopts a partnership approach, intensively collaborating with customers throughout a machine’s pre-production stages to optimize powering, positioning, fitment and performance of an engine. The company also comprehensively trains an OEM’s field service technicians. This approach tailors the power solution for machine operation and application, as Michael Gruber, Head of Technology, ROPA, proudly reveals:

“It was important that we had an industrial engine that is durable, robust and reliable, so we informed Volvo Penta of our desires and requirements for Stage V very early on. The result was the Volvo Penta D16 TWD1683VE, which provides immense power [796hp/585kW] from its six inline cylinders and dual turbochargers while delivering very high torque at the very low RPM that is necessary for harvesting beet.”

In the 1000-1100 RPM range, the 16.12-liter diesel engine generates a huge 3,550 Nm (just 100 Nm below maximum torque), enabling it to work for longer in the low speed range. This results in valuable fuel efficiency while supporting more stable, sympathetic vehicle operation in pursuit of that all-important maximum uptime.

Its common-rail injection, SCR catalytic converter and AdBlue combine for even cleaner, more efficient, power generation, while enabling compliance with the most stringent off-highway exhaust emission standards without the need for exhaust gas recirculation or a diesel particulate filter.

Regardless of weather conditions, operators can confidently run the ROPA Tiger 6S – a huge 15m-long, approximately 33,400 kg harvester that can quickly fill its 43 m³ / 30 tonne-capacity bunker and empty it in under a minute. Even at low engine speeds, it makes quick work of the job at hand, hitting ground speeds of 17.5 km/h in the field at 1240 RPM. Its maximum 40 km/h road speed is achievable at 1200 RPM, facilitated by its stepless CVR (constant variable ROPA) gearbox for optimal power traction without gear changes.

“The reaction time and response qualities of this engine are far superior to the previous Stage IV engine,” explains ROPA operator Werner Hofbauer. “The two serially connected turbochargers ensure a very agile behaviour, which suits this machine really well.”

“All machines have different requirements,” continues Anna Maria Ullnert, Product Manager Industrial at Volvo Penta. “That’s why we work closely with our customers to secure the best configuration for their specific needs. Through cooperation with operators, designers, and OEMs, we support our customers with everything from performance predictions and application integration to verification and rigorous field testing.”

This comes as no surprise to ROPA, whose three-decade-long partnership with Volvo Penta has helped the company build and maintain its favorable reputation. “We have been using Volvo Penta’s combustion engines for over 30 years – many of them are still running today with 15,000 hours and more on the clock, but they are no trouble,” concludes Michael. “That’s why we have a lot of trust in Volvo Penta and believe their engines help make one of the best powertrains of any beet harvester on the market. The D16 is a great fit for the Tiger 6S and will be instrumental in helping us keep – and increase – our market-leading position.”

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