John Deere’s innovative 8000 Series Self-Propelled Forage Harvesters are once again in the spotlight, having been recognized with a 2016 Red Dot international design award for product design.
A jury of independent design specialists from 41 countries chose the forage harvester from thousands of entries around the world by applying stringent selection criteria. Product categories for the 2016 awards ranged from consumer electronics and communication to fashion, lifestyle and sports.
“The revolutionary new design of the John Deere 8000 Series Self-Propelled Forage Harvester reflects the innovative technology and functionality of these machines,” explained Professor Matthias Schönherr, a former Porsche design specialist who was mainly responsible for the design of the new forage harvester. “Design expresses brand values and the quality values of the machine: power, dynamics, confidence, reliability and the like. Styling is the ambassador of all these qualities that an agricultural machine can have.” For John Deere, the journey toward receiving this award was driven partly out of necessity.
Justifying an all-new design
As product lines mature they eventually reach the end of their lifecycle. This was the case with predecessors of the 8000 Series. Earlier models (5000, 6000, 7000, and 7080 Series) had reached the limit in terms of what could be simply updated when it came to design, styling, and improving engine performance and components. Over time, customer needs and government regulations also change. So, companies must either update their outdated products or create all-new products to address those changes. “It was simply absolutely necessary to build a completely new vehicle,” said Richard Wübbels, Manager of Engineering for forage harvesters and crop headers.
... the design should look just as up-to-date in two or three years as it does now.”
—Professor Matthias Schönherr
Designers started with a clean slate. The team repeatedly gathered customer input along the way and meticulously scrutinized various components to find improvements. “It required a forward-looking approach to ensure a positive long-term effect. That means the design should look just as up-to-date in two or three years as it does now,” said Schönherr. After conceptual drawings of the forage harvester were created they were shown to customers who provided their feedback. “The concept drawing that proved most appealing was selected,” explained Schönherr.
It is one thing to create a visually appealing machine, but John Deere also wanted its new forage harvester to exceed customer expectations in terms of its functionality. Operators told designers that were working on the project that previous forage harvesters did not include all of the necessary features to make their daily work easier.
Take a closer look at some of the features that went into the award-winning design of the 8000 Series Self-Propelled Forage Harvesters.
Attention to detail
This detailed customer input created additional design requirements as the project progressed. Thus, additional focus was placed on improving things like operator comfort and efficiency. “The objective for the new forage harvester was to integrate these requirements into the machine,” Schönherr noted. “Otherwise, every design error could quickly turn into a fundamental problem.”
No details were too small to be considered. For example, Schönherr said the water tank and the toolbox on the left side of the vehicle were positioned so that the operator only had to walk a short distance and could stay on the left side of the vehicle after attaching or removing the header.
Materials chosen to complete the cab interior were also selected with great care. “The look and feel of the components plays a very important role in how the machine is perceived, we therefore used high quality materials in the interior,” Schönherr said. “Operators usually spend significantly more time on the forage harvester than on a combine harvester. This makes a friendly, open, well-lit and organized working environment necessary.”
Inside the machine’s cab, all elements, not only the indicators and controls, were fully integrated into the design. “In the final steps we integrated graphical elements into the displays, for a modern and contemporary appearance in line with development of the forage harvester,” Schönherr explained. Even consideration of where operators would place their food and drinks inside the cab were taken into account. How would operators clean the cab? What communication features are present? Those were only a few of the issues that were studied before the design was completed and the first 8000 Series Self-Propelled Forage Harvesters were built.
“This coveted award is an integral part of the 8000 Series product success story,” said Christoph Wigger, John Deere Region 2 vice president, sales and marketing. John Deere forage harvesters are manufactured in Zweibrücken, Germany, and consist of eight models from 380 to 843 horsepower. Fully integrated with a suite of precision farming tools, the 8000 Series are designed to provide ultimate chopping performance in grass and corn for livestock feed and biogas production.