When the Valtra engineering team set out to design the fourth generation N Series, it wanted to create the world’s most powerful four-cylinder tractor while retaining its excellent agility. The design team backed this up, and the end result was a great success. The new N Series has proven popular among customers and earned numerous awards.
Valtra’s new T Series was presented this spring with the prestigious Red Dot Design Award in the product design category. The new N Series in turn claimed the Golden Tractor for Design award at the Agritechnica agricultural trade fair in Hanover, Germany, in November. The jury comprised 24 European agricultural journalists, who named the new N Series the best designed tractor of the year.
“The fourth generation N Series is closely related to the latest T Series. They share the same basic cab, but the mudguards and exhaust pipes are different. In addition, the cab on the new N Series is slightly lower and further back,” explains Kimmo Wihinen, Head of Design at Valtra.
The N Series was designed especially for use in farmyards, forests and built-up areas, so its external dimensions are smaller than those of the T Series, which is mostly used for heavy field work. For the same reason, outward visibility was a priority with the N Series, and this has been achieved in part by giving it a compact bonnet and nose.
Ergonomics, functionality and smart features
Valtra’s industrial designers were not only concerned with how the new tractor looked – in fact, this was only a small part of their work. More attention was paid instead to practicality, quality, safety, serviceability, ergonomics, usability and productivity.
“For example, the pillar-mounted air intake was designed to take in cleaner and cooler air from the side of the cab instead of from above the engine. This solution puts less load on the engine, which in turn reduces noise from the fans and fuel consumption. Such design details have a big impact on how the tractor performs,” Wihinen points out.
Another great design detail is the flashlight integrated into the B pillar, available with the auxiliary lighting package. This serves as a cab light when fixed in place, but the driver can also detach it and use it like a normal flashlight. The design solution has three obvious benefits: it makes sure that a flashlight is always onboard, it provides a handy place to keep it, and it recharges the flashlight when it is stored and used as a cab light. The flashlight also features a magnetic attachment, so it fixes to any metallic surface to free up the driver’s hands.
If for some reason a metallic surface is not available, the flashlight is easy to stand up thanks to its flat surfaces.
Expensive tools, affordable parts
Design has big influence not only on a tractor´s features and performance, but also on the efficiency of the manufacturing process. For example, the new rear mudguards now feature a one-piece integrated design, which prevents mud from accumulating on the inside and makes them both easier to produce and smart looking. However, the tooling costs for creating the moulds are higher.
“The brand new cab frame uses many more moulded parts than previously, but at the same time the actual number of parts and welded seams has been reduced. As a result, it takes around 40 percent less time to manufacture the cab frame. The dimensions are also much more precise now, and the overall structure is more robust,” Wihinen adds.