New power train for spading machine: from idea to prototype.
“You have to keep innovating and investing if you want to keep going,” says Alfons Sleiderink, director of Farmax Metaaltechniek. “We are constantly improving our spading machines. By listening to our users and working together, we innovate and refine our product.” The iPro-N innovation programme supports Farmax in their latest endeavour: a longer drive train.
Listening to the market
“When I took over the company in 2002, our spading machine had more or less the same design as the ones 20 years before that,” Alfons tells us. Innovation was a must. In cooperation with a contract worker, they designed a completely new machine. One that keeps doing its job in heavy clay soil. This innovation came with a disadvantage, too, since the combination was too heavy and tended to sink into the clay on some plots. “We took a look at the design of the old, light machine and combined both concepts. This resulted in the spading machine that we now offer in various models. This new ‘old’ machine saved us and put us on the right path.”
“We see a rising demand for a drive train that can be used for both our spading machine and our power harrow,” Alfons tells us about the latest development. “Performing two tillage processes in one go saves time and decreases the strain on the soil.” Designing and constructing a new drive train requires a significant investment. That is why Alfons approached Bas Ramaker at Novel-T in 2016 for an iPro-N subsidy. This was a success.
Involving a German expert partner
“One of the requirements is cooperating with an expert party from Germany. We involved the German Rögelberg Gebriebe from Meppen.” iPro-N has five phases, and Farmax has by now reached the final one, the prototype phase. This phase entails subsidy support of forty percent for a maximum project size of 135,000 euros. “We would have started without the subsidy, but the development phase would have taken longer,” Alfons tells us about the effect of this scheme.
To the market
The prototype is currently being tested in the Flevopolder and Haarlemmermeer. Once the necessary improvements have been implemented, it is time for the most important question: when to release the design for a pilot run, or even serial production? Alfons: “We aim to introduce the new design at Agritechnica in Hannover in November this year. Whether we will be able to remain to be seen.”
“Thanks to the good contact Alfons Sleiderink maintains with users, he knows where to find areas of improvement,” says Bas Ramaker – program manager Ipro-N at Novel-T – about Farmax’ capacity for innovation. “When he came to me with his idea for the longer drive shaft, I immediately saw opportunities for a contribution from iPro-N. The scheme tracks the innovation process and supports him from idea to prototype development. The first tests with the prototype went well. I have full confidence that Farmax will distinguish itself through this innovation to attract new clients.”
Collaboration across the border
Cross-border cooperation can be a real eye-opener and may even result in access to new markets. Do you, as an entrepreneur in the manufacturing industry, also want to explore your innovation options? And are you open to new collaborations? Make an appointment with an innovation matchmaker. They can help you with your business case, inform you about European regulations or match you with other companies or expert organizations, such as the University of Twente or Saxion, University of Applied Sciences.