Agritechnica 2015: Innovation in Transport Widths — Should North America Follow Suit?

If you’ve ever traveled in Europe, you’ve likely experienced two-way roads narrower than a single lane in North America. It’s no wonder vehicles are generally smaller, drivers are better-versed in high-speed manoeuvring and transport regulations are taken very seriously.

In the agriculture industry, the emphasis on meeting such transport guidelines has bred all kinds of innovation, as Shaun Haney recounts from Agritechnica, in Hanover, Germany.

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“All you have to do is walk around and see pieces of machinery — like some of the slurry vehicles that are very, very long, but very, very narrow,” says Haney. “The other thing you notice is across all the different product lines…in the demo videos they show in the booths, not only are they showing in-field performance, but also highway performance.”

One such innovation on display won a Silver Medal in Agritechnica’s 2015 Innovation Awards. The Peecon Gull Wing double tire system allows a tractor with rear dual wheels to quickly become roadworthy through a hydraulic folding system. The tires ride “piggy back” until they’re folded down and re-attached to the rear wheels.

Equipment origami was on display for many European manuacturers, with implements folding multiple times to fit road size regulations.

Here in North America, farm machinery is always getting bigger, creating safety risks as it takes up more space — both width and height — on roads. Is it time we took a few pages from Europe’s book of transport?

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