Since the Claas Lexion 480 arrived a quarter of a century ago (12th November 1995), Claas has been at the forefront of combine performance. The launch of a totally new threshing concept – its patented APS HYBRID SYSTEM, (a combination of the APS threshing unit and the ROTO PLUS residual grain separation system), made it the top performing combine of the time.
Increased threshing drum
Compared with the Claas MEGA straw walker machines, the hybrid system had an increased diameter threshing drum – 600mm compared with 450mm and an increased feeder housing width 1700mm compared to 1580mm. These increases along with two smooth-running axial rotors enabled the Lexion 480 to achieve grain threshing throughputs of 35t/hr. In 1996 this figure rose to 40t/hr due to an increase in the length of the rotors.
At launch other features to be revealed included spreaders which swivelled allowing material to be spread the full width of the header and the VISTA CAB complete with CEBIS screen.
It was in 1998 in a bid to combat potential soil damage from ever bigger and heavier combines, the Lexion 480 was introduced with the TERRA TRAC system. This was the first track system fitted to a large combine that was suitable for high-volume production and kept the width of the machine under 3.5m. Move forward to 2011 and road speed on Terra Tracs increased to 40 km/h.
So successful were the combines, the 10,000th machine, a 480 TERRA TRAC, was produced in 2002. Three years later saw the arrival of the ‘600’ series. The Lexion 600 series brought with it never before seen levels of performance. In fact in 2008, a new Guinness World Record was achieved. One Lexion 600 series combine harvested 532 tonnes of wheat within 8 hours, remember that was with one combine.
When that record was broken it was once again a Claas Lexion this time a 770 TERRA TRAC in 2011 that harvested an incredible 675 tonnes of wheat within 8 hours in the UK.
2019 saw the second generation of Lexion launched with four new lines. As expected, these machines offered more performance, more throughput, more intelligence and even more comfort. They also offered the largest grain tank on the market at 18,000 litres which could be unloaded at up to 180 l/sec.
These new machines also set the standard for fuel efficiency with engines from MAN and Mercedes-Benz. The combination of these new engines with the APS SYNFLOW HYBRID threshing and separation system and the CEMOS AUTOMATIC machine optimisation system (a self-learning system which continuously optimises areas such as primary separation, cleaning, secondary separation and engine load) maximises output whilst minimizing fuel consumption.
The use of these new engines also brought horsepower gains, with the top-of-the-range LEXION 8900 having so much power – 790 hp – it was not sold in North America due to their comparatively low yields and limited quantities of straw.
The current range topper, as of summer 2020, is the LEXION 8900 TERRA TRAC. This machine, working in real world conditions in the UK achieved peak outputs of over 100 t/hr and averaged over 94 t/hr with grain losses of less than 1%. These remarkable outputs are due, in part at least, to the ability of the hybrid system to allow harvesting late into the night, when moisture of grain and straw increases with negligible loss of performance.
Jan-Hendrik Mohr, who is responsible for the grain harvesting business division on the CLAAS executive board explained that;
“With so many positive characteristics, it is perfectly clear that CLAAS will continue to rely on the APS SYNFLOW HYBRID system in the upper performance classes in the future. This means that the LEXION top-of-the-range class is better equipped than any other combine harvester to face the diverse requirements of the global market. Satisfied, and therefore loyal, customers all over the world are the best proof of this. However, the pressure of costs and time as well as expectations regarding comfort continue to increase; these are the factors that drive our engineers as they work every day on the further development of CLAAS combine harvesters.”
This hybrid technology is not limited to the top of the range Lexions either with the TUCANO HYBRID available with the APS threshing unit in combination with a single rotor. Meanwhile, 2019 has also seen the youngest member of the CLAAS hybrid family start to roll off the production line in China: the DOMINATOR 370.
When the Claas Lexion 480 arrived it set new levels of performance which were hard to imagine being improved upon, yet here we are 25 years later with throughputs having risen from 35 t/hr to over 94 t/hr.
What will happen in the next 25 years?
- Will performance keep rising?
- Will machines get smaller but more efficient?
- Will we see a completely new threshing system?
- The demise of the giant, expensive machines?
I can’t answer these questions but I for one am looking forward to finding out.
Do you have any thoughts about the combines of the future? Please let me know using the comments box below.
Thanks for reading – Justin https://farmingthroughtheages.com/
To learn more about Claas, visit their website here
All images © CLAAS KGaA mbH