A three-way partnership between Tata Steel, JCB Landpower and GKN (the manufacturer of the Fastrac tractor chassis) enabled JCB to develop an optimally-designed next-generation tractor.
Tata Steel, GKN and JCB
From initial concept through to production, Tata Steel, GKN and JCB worked closely as a project team to develop the design for a new solution. Members of the Project Engineering team at GKN worked hard to produce the optimum chassis to suit the requirements of JCB while incorporating the GKN philosophy of ‘Design for Manufacture’. This philosophy enabled them to give the most accurate chassis assembly while retaining the most efficient production process.
Tata Steel recommended a series of intelligent design changes that allowed for a 30% increase in loads on the front and rear axles. The new chassis is 100% stiffer, with no increase in weight. The innovations make the new Fastrac much more comfortable for the operator, with less vibration and better visibility – but it remains competitive on price. There is a reduced turning circle too – an important part of JCB’s brief.
Smaller turning circle
A reduced turning circle enables farmers to be more productive in the field.
The innovations also make the new Fastrac much more comfortable for the operator, with less vibration and better visibility.
The new chassis is 100% stiffer, with no increase in weight.
30% more load on axles
A series of intelligent design changes by Tata Steel allowed for a 30% increase in loads on the tractor’s front and rear axles.
JCB Landpower is always seeking to improve its products so it can offer its customers more flexible and efficient vehicles. It wanted its next generation Fastrac tractor to have an increased load-carrying capacity and a smaller turning circle.
Together with the need to move to a tier-4-compliant engine (to meet new EU and US emissions standards), these requirements called for a complete redesign of the existing chassis structure. JCB turned to Tata Steel and GKN to help achieve these objectives.
The three-way partnership between Tata Steel, JCB Landpower and GKN enabled JCB to develop the Fastrac 4000. The model was launched to the market in January 2015.
Working together: JCB - GKN - Tata Steel
Historically, vehicle design has often focused on developing the load structure, building up strength with structural material until it is fit for purpose. Using computer-aided tools, engineers from Tata Steel worked closely with JCB Landpower and GKN to meet the product specifications using the material in the most efficient manner, leading to a chassis structure that was as light as possible. This helped ensure the new Fastrac remained competitive on price, and boosted efficiency by not unduly increasing the mass or size of the components.
Working as a team from the beginning and implementing GKN’s Design for Manufacture principles to ensure the product was what JCB required resulted in a more efficient chassis structure. As well as assessing the overall stiffness and strength of the chassis, this included making changes to the chassis rails to meet basic structural requirements.
To be more productive
A smaller turning circle enables farmers to be more productive. The need to reduce the vehicle’s turning circle required a narrower chassis, while leaving room for the larger engine and gearbox. The team conducted some 250 analyses looking at various design iterations over a period of eight months. ‘Better for less’ was the mantra for creating a chassis that was 100 per cent stiffer, with no increase in weight.
Through a series of intelligent design changes and developments, we were also able to increase loads by 30 per cent on the front and rear axles: from 2 tonnes to 2.5 tonnes, and finally up to 3 tonnes on the front.
This smarter approach to vehicle design helped create a competitively-priced Fastrac tractor with a significant increase in front- and rear-load carrying capacity, with no increase in overall chassis structure weight.
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