Increase Comfort and Time Operating a Windrower

AGCO’s new OptiAir windrower cab air-suspension system may be the greatest innovation in comfort since the padded seat.

By Tharran E. Gaines

There have been plenty of studies that link an increase in productivity to comfort in an office setting. Now, imagine that “office” bouncing across an alfalfa field at 12 mph.

Make no doubt about it, comfort can impact a farm machinery operator even more viscerally than the typical person behind the desk. That’s one of the reasons AGCO’s new OptiAir windrower cab air-suspension system was recognized as an AE50 award winner by the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers (ASABE).

Available as an option on new Hesston by Massey Ferguson® WR9900 Series self-propelled windrowers, the four-post air suspension system has proved to provide a reduction in experienced vibration levels of nearly 40% when compared to the cab on older models of Hesston® windrowers. What’s more, in contrast to cabs on some other windrower brands, the reduction in root mean square amplitude (RMS), which is an official measurement of cab vibration in three different directions, is even more dramatic.

According to Dean Morrell, AGCO® strategic marketing manager for hay and forage, the new OptiAir system employs a radically new design to achieve greater comfort. “In place of coil springs, like those in other designs, the OptiAir system uses self-leveling airbags on all four corners of the cab. Each is automatically adjusted by an on-board air compressor and pneumatic system,” he explains.

“This provides a more responsive suspension system that can also work toward leveling the cab on steep hillsides. In addition, the OptiAir system is not subject to hard ‘bounce back,’ like springs. This contributes to an even smoother ride, whether you’re in the field or on the road.”

As Morrell explains, the engineers in Hesston, Kansas, re-evaluated just about every component in the cab when designing the OptiAir system. As an example, three of the four airbags are equipped with internal leveling. The fourth airbag—located on the right front corner—is coupled to the airbag on the left front corner to prevent the cab from continuous movement and swaying.

This feature also helps the system compensate for weight variations in the cab, such as the presence of a second person in the instructor’s seat. The internal leveling mechanics of the airbags incorporate a “dead band” window as well, which prevents the system from being over-sensitive and keeps the individual airbags from constantly competing against each other.

“Put it all together,” Morrell concludes, “and you’re talking about unmatched comfort that can have a direct impact on operator comfort and productivity.”