June 26th, 2015 | PRODUCT

The inside story of the full-scale production of the YT series

Agriculture for the next generation and feeling pride in farming: Thoughts on the new YT series tractor.

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Going beyond just design. Having gained wide recognition for its stylish appearance, the concept tractor delivers a powerful message of transformation through capturing the ideas of the farmers who use the product, delivering maximum cab comfort and pursuing not only design but creating new farming.

Embodying this message, Yanmar continues forward with new initiatives and developments in full-scale production.

The interview takes place at the Yanmar Central Research Institute in Maibara City, Shiga Prefecture with four members at the Global Development Division: Yoshiaki Kurokawa, Fumihiro Egawa, Kenji Monzen of the Product Development Division 1, and Tsutomu Takahashi of the Evaluation Engineering Division.

Yanmar optimizes tractor production utilizing simultaneous design and production methods

--The YT series was put into production utilizing new methods envisioned through the concept tractor. Were there also changes made for the full-scale production of the tractor?

Yoshiaki Kurokawa Up until now when creating a tractor, we began with the mainstay parts which affect the performance, such as the transmission, before moving onto the design and styling aspects. In that respect, the technical department was the main driving force behind the tractor's development. However, this time, we pursued both design and performance simultaneously. We time we had concentrate on both the design and functionality at the same time. This was an entirely new task from anything that we had undertaken previously.

--How did you approach the task?

Yoshiaki Kurokawa While I was in charge ofoutfitting, there were quite involved back and forth discussions surrounding the design aesthetics. These discussions continued late into with night with the members coming down from Tokyo barely making their last train back. There was also much debate between not wanting to compromise on design and the physical requirements. One topic in particular was the headlights. While the tractor has 4 lights, as it also operates on public roads we also had to comply with special vehicle standards and regulations. Furthermore, tractor design typically has a compact hood and small lights to enable adequate vision of the front tyre and ground area. Working within these limitations, but keeping with the design we devised the four-light mounted tractor design. We challenged limits, making adjustments on the up-down and sideways axis to maximize usable space. While we debated many things we never compromised. And it was through these processes that the YT series design was actualized. The design certainly has impact that hasn't been seen before in the industry. I was really satisfied with what we achieved.

Fumihiro Egawa It certainly reflects a full transformation. And this added to the sense of anticipation.

――Fumihiro and Kenji, tell us about the processes involved in the areas that you worked on?

Kenji Monzen While I was in charge of the hydraulic machinery, after hearing the expectations for improvements held by sales, I knew that just expanding on our current model wouldn't be enough. Enhancing the pump capacity alongside a range of specifications was pivotal; however improving on the specs alone would also have the adverse effect of added vibration and noise level. We pursued an overall upgrade, integrating a range of specification improvements. Making improvements to the design but leaving the inside untouched would certainly not satisfy our customers' expectations.

Fumihiro Egawa Compared to the current tractor, pretty much every part has been improved upon. It wasn't just minor changes; rather we set about completely transforming the entire model, creating a versatile tractor. Moreover, customizable settings for operability and configurations enable close to fully automated farm work, enhancing the comfort and benefits for current farmers through enabling ease-of-use for those new to agriculture. It is a product that most certainly appeals to a broad range of users.

――In a sense, the YT series is new innovation created from a history of innovation and expertise in tractor production?

Yoshiaki Kurokawa The tractor received huge amounts of attention, so within the company everyone was aware of our work, often offering us a hand.

Tsutomu Takahashi Everyone was asking us about how we were. We received a lot of encouragement from everyone at the Yanmar Central Research Institute, which opened up further opportunity to bridge inter-departmental gaps.

Yoshiaki Kurokawa Our business customers also expressed keen interest in pursuing new advancements in line with Yanmar's full model upgrades. With such a range of people coming together, getting the job done was a lot smoother.

From reducing workload to stimulating enjoyment the YT series offers all-round comfort

--The YT series reflects a truly collaborative effort from everyone in the technical department. What would you consider the most impressive feature of the tractor to be?

Tsutomu TakahashiI would say its operability. More specifically the advanced e-CONTROL features. Yanmar's innovative system for automated control of engine RPM and travel speed, allows for optimized adjustments of RPM and travel speed based on the work load. This feature maximizes operation performance and precision, contributing to dramatic reductions in costs. Once the task and work environment is programmed, the tractor will complete the task automatically without further need for manual direction. Up until now in farm work, the operator would have to stop work to adjust the settings. While this is a small movement, endless repetition can feel quite laborious. Moreover, the optionally fitted sub-monitor has a camera attached allowing the operator to see the ground area and machine situation upon completing the task without having to do shoulder checks.

--Operating comfort has been a central focus since the beginning stages as a concept model, right?

Tsutomu Takahashi The cabin capacity was also increased. The tractor is a working vehicle and therefore it is thought that as long as people can ride it then it satisfies the requirements. However in reality, many tractor operators fit the cabin with computers and GPS systems. Additionally during long hours out on the field, small details such as drink holders are also an important feature. Considering these uses, we devised a spacious cabin that the operator can utilize at ease. Furthermore, we minimized vibration and noise to minimize exhaustion felt from long hours of work. This is a significant point of improvement.

Fumihiro Egawa While advancements in the engine department, in compliance with gas emission regulations, has always been a focus for large tractor production at Yanmar; the added emphasis to further minimize vibration and noise is a more recent development. And, this newest technology is exemplified in the YT series. In addition, I also worked on the transmission and related areas. While manual shift transmissions in tractors reduce power loss, in the same manner as cars, our goal was to leverage infinitely variable transmission to optimize speed control and ease-of operations, enabling almost anyone to operate the machine. Moreover, through reducing the amount of power needed to shift gears, we delivered an energy efficient infinitely variable transmission system.

Horses were replaced by tractors, and harvesting rice with sickle was superseded by the combine. Now we are aspiring to reduce the work load, and optimize machine productivity with minimal energy-use. Yanmar's shift towards transforming energy-use, is evident here in our work.

--The concept of the YT series is to provide solutions for not just farming machinery but for issues surrounding the entire agricultural industry.

Tsutomu Takahashi The tractor has always been purely a working machine. And from here on, it will still be used to get the job done, albeit with the added enjoyment that one gets from its design and features. The YT series offers the added comfort of an office combined with an eye-opening and innovative design, providing an enjoyable experience for farmers operating the tractor for 8 hours every day. We committed ourselves to building a tractor that farmers riding it 8 hours every day, can do so with added enjoyment.

Kenji Monzen For us, there was a lot of excitement and passion that went into making the tractor. For us, there was a lot of excitement and passion that went into making the tractor. leading to added everyday enjoyment in farming. That's ultimately what we are aiming for.

The more one uses it the more these features will become apparent

--Combining these innovative ideas, the production stage of YT series is complete and it is released onto the market. How do you want customers buying your product to use the tractor?

Tsutomu Takahashi Our final product has undergone testing, evaluations and assessments for possible areas of improvement. It has been fitted with a lot useful features, so first of all, we want customers to use it and try it out. We understand that the featured optimized digital technology can be overwhelming for first-time users. So trying it out is the first step. While it can be pre-programmed and easily operated with the touch of a button, customizable functions can also be adjusted along the way, catering to various arising personal preferences and needs. Delivering more than what meets the eye

Fumihiro Egawa In the case of tilling, when approaching the headland, one must raise the implements, reduce RPM, change gears and reduce speed.In a split second, a lot of things need to be done. With the YT series, all of the operations can be preset, enabling full automation customized specifically to the operator's needs. It has numerous unrivaled functions including one touch speed controls. With such features at one's fingertips, anyone can use it. These automated functions ease the workload of farmers. And, with labor-shortages in the farming industry, such ease of operations enables family members to ride the tractor, providing a helping hand. Smooth handling and comfort enhancements further add appeal to newcomers in the industry.

--The YT Series sets the pace for the next generation of farming.

Yoshiaki Kurokawa On top of maximizing productivity we have taken design beyond anything seen before. People brag when they purchase a new car right. And delivering a product that people can brag about to their friends and family in the same manner is my goal here. For children also, it holds visual excitement and appeal. This model reflects many possibilities in this sense.

Profiles

(From the left to right)

Product Development Division 1, Global Development Division, Development Division, Agricultural Operations Business
Yoshiaki Kurokawa

Product Development Division 1, Global Development Division, Development Division, Agricultural Operations Business
Kenji Monzen

Evaluation Engineering Division, Global Development Division, Development Division, Agricultural Operations Business
Tsutomu Takahashi

Product Development Division 1, Global Development Division, Development Division, Agricultural Operations Business
Fumihiro Egawa

From conversation here there was a strong sense that despite the high expectations and numerous hurdles that the team came up against, they faced these challenges with enthusiasm and enjoyment, overcoming any barrier that they came up against. Creating the world's first diesel engine, the pioneering spirit of the Yanmar's technicians continues, carving out a new course of history for agriculture. On the next page, we visit the team providing on the ground, for the YT series.