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Optimized tractor control

The TIM (tractor implement management) solution enables the implement to control securely certain tractor functions. Recently, the AEF association has released the TIM specification version 2.

With the active TIM function, the implement controls some of the tractor functions (Source: Adobe Stock)

The Isobus-based tractor implement management (TIM) was originally invented by John Deere and further developed by the nonprofit Agricultural Industry Electronics Foundation (AEF). It is a cross-product and cross-manufacturer solution, in which the implement controls certain tractor functions e.g. forward speed or remote valves to relieve the driver and to increase machine performance and productivity.

First TIM solutions were introduced at Agritechnica 2009. At that time only the machines of the same manufacturer could exchange data. A machine combination from different manufacturers was not possible. As specified in the TIM specification version 2, the implement sends information to the tractor via a standardized and secure communication. The secure data exchange is based on the digital certificates as used in electronic banking systems. Using TIM, field operations become technically simpler and more convenient as the TIM takes over some of the tiring driver tasks. The TIM version 2 has been submitted for international standardization.

TIM background

TIM is an Isobus-based function. Isobus is a standardized (ISO 11783) application layer, which bases on the J1939 higher-layer protocol for CAN. It was especially developed for agricultural applications. Using Isobus-tested (certified by AEF) devices, farmers expect that the coupling of the tractor and the implement works in a plug-and-play manner. Communication and control between devices, even from different manufacturers, is expected to be possible.

This applies in particular for machines equipped with TIM. They are tested according to the AEF guidelines and have to observe the boundary legal safety rules. After a successful conformance test, the AEF supplies a digital certificate, which will be integrated in the tested TIM machine. With the first connection between the tractor-implement-combination, the machines check the validity of their digital certificates. If in agreement, the tractor and implement exchange a shared key. This key will be checked when starting the combination of tractor and implement. Only if the result is positive, the farmer will be able to use TIM i.e., the device (implement) will be able to automatically control the enabled tractor functions without intervention from the driver.

Variotronic by Fendt

A Fendt tractor with the Rogator 300 sprayer (Source: Fendt)

Fendt offers the optional Variotronic implement management function starting with its Vario 500 Profi Plus tractor. On the implement side, TIM is included in the Fendt Tigo XR self-loading trailer and the Fendt Rogator 300 plant protection sprayer. The Tigo XR trailer enables automatic throughput control and adjusts the tractor speed to the pick-up working load. A sensor delivers permanent feedback about the torque on the pick-up device. This optimizes the pick-up process, unburdens the driver, and allows him to concentrate on the loading process observation.

The Fendt Rogator 300 sprayer combined with Fendt Optinozzle adjusts the tractor speed according to the nozzle parameters, the wished drift reduction, and the application amount. The driver is also able to adjust the tractor speed while the TIM is active. Then the tractor-implement holds the given speed level automatically. In the same time the sprayer adjusts the nozzles on the changed tractor speed.

Krone Digital

The tractor-press-combination while testing on the Innovation farm Wieselburg (Source: Krone)

Using the Krone Digital TIM functionality, a round baler controls some tractor functions automatically. On the Innovation Farm Wieselburg (Germany) the TIM technique on the Krone Comprima V150 XC round baler press and the Deutz Fahr 6155.4 TTV tractor has been tested. The baler press is equipped with a sensor-monitored bale ejector to ensure that a ready bale is thrown far enough from the press. This function enables the unhindered closing of the bale chamber. The active TIM functionality is displayed and accessible via the tractor terminal (human machine interface). The balling press adjusts the tractor speed to the pickup process. On achievement of the required bale diameter the tractor is forced to stop, the bale is packed in a net and thrown out in a controllable way.

A TIM performance test with an experienced and an unpracticed driver shown in both cases a performance improvement of ca. 7 % regarding the complete baling process. The bale quality was comparable in both cases. For example, if 40 bales per hour can be pressed without the active TIM function, then ca. 43 bales can be prepared with the active TIM. On some big farms, up to 500 bales are sometimes pressed on a day. To fulfil this without TIM, the driver would stop the tractor 500 times and activate the bale ejector controller 1000 times. Using TIM, these failure sources as well as the required alertness and time effort are eliminated. The driver has more resources to monitor the complete process. The optimized control has also a positive effect on the fuel consumption and reduces machine down-times.

TIM certification for Kubota

Kubota M7003 tractor and BV5200 press succeeded in the TIM conformance test by AEF (Source: Kubota)

The Kubota M7003 tractor and the BV5200 round baler press succeeded in the TIM conformance test by AEF in July 2020. This means that the M7003 tractor can be controlled by the BV5200 press or by another AEF-certified TIM-capable implement from different manufacturers. Using the tractor-press combination, the implement can control the power take-off shaft, the hydraulics, and the driving speed of the tractor. The recurrent tasks, such as bale packing, tractor stoppage, and bale ejection control, formerly done by the driver are automated using the TIM function. The press also monitors the bale progress status. Last year, the Japanese enterprise Kubota has taken over the AEF core membership after 11 years direct engagement of its daughter Kverneland Group.

TIM speed control by Claas

Cargo 9000 and Cargo 8000 loader wagons are able to control the tractor speed (Source: Claas)

Using the TIM Speed Control function introduced in September 2019, the Cargo 9000 and Cargo 8000 loader wagons from Claas are able to control the forward speed of a tractor. Claas claims, that the TIM-equipped wagons work with the AEF-certified TIM tractors from all manufacturers. The speed control depends on the throughput. Torque measurements on the rotor and pick-up provide the basis for control. The speed is reduced at high volumes in the swath and increased at low volumes.


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