Ten years after the introduction of the LEXION combine range which set a new standard for combine output with firstly the LEXION 480 and more recently the 580 models, CLAAS has introduced a new top-of-the-range model, the LEXION 600 which is the most powerful combine in the World, and will set a completely new industry benchmark for combine output.
Depending on crop and location, the LEXION 600 has the capacity to clear in the region of 4,000 acres (1,618ha) of crops a season.
Already working in UK crops it has proved capable of achieving outputs of up to 50 tonne/hour in oilseed rape and 80 tonnes/hour in early wheat, giving it a total crop processing capacity of 160 tonnes/hour of grain and straw, which is 20-25% higher than the LEXION 580.
CLAAS UK see the potential market for the LEXION 600 as someone who may currently be running two large straw-walker or smaller rotary machines, each clearing about 1,800 acres (730ha) at a cost of about £17 to £20/acre all inclusive.
By replacing these two machines with a single LEXION 600 capable of clearing the same area, their harvesting costs will be reduced considerably, and CLAAS estimate that over 4,000 acres a season, costs could be as low as £13/acre, including depreciation, interest, fuel, labour and a CLAAS Maxi-care service contract.
Developments and improvements
Achieving this high level of output requires far more than just adding a larger engine to a LEXION 580, and the new LEXION 600 incorporates 20 major improvements and developments that affect every element of the combine.
The new developments designed to increase output include:
• New CRUISE PILOT system
• New APS concaves
• New high capacity rotor and concave system
• JET STREAM
• New high capacity augers and elevators
• Larger grain tank capacity
• Mercedes Benz, V8 engine producing 586 hp (max)
In addition the general improvements cover items such as:
• Re-designed crop residue handling system with POWER SPREADER
• Longer unloading elevator
• Faster reacting LASER PILOT automatic steering system
• New 'fly-by-wire' operating system and improved joystick
• New 30kph OVERDRIVE transmission
• Stronger drivelines throughout the combine
• New high capacity elevator housing
As standard, the new LEXION 600 comes with a 9m (30ft) VARIO cutterbar fitted with the latest LASER PILOT automatic steering system with sensors on both sides. The capacity of the LASER PILOT system has been increased to accommodate the LEXION 600's higher output, and the sensors are now also mounted on telescopic arms to enable them to be quickly and easily adjusted for different crop heights. In addition, the right hand sensor can be folded down for headlands or transport.
New CRUISE PILOT
To handle the higher amounts of material entering the combine, the elevator feed into the LEXION 600 is fitted with three trace bars. This elevator also plays an important role in the new CRUISE PILOT system fitted to the LEXION 600.
As its name suggest, CRUISE PILOT is essentially cruise control for a combine, and uses two sensors, one positioned at the front of the feed elevator to monitor the flow of material into the combine ahead of the APS threshing drum, whilst a second sensor monitors the engine loading.
Using the information from these sensors, CRUISE PILOT will automatically vary the forward speed of the combine depending on loading, which when used in combination with LASER PILOT, will leave the operator completely free to concentrate on performance settings. The important feature of CRUISE PILOT is that it is sensing the crop volume ahead of the main drum, to prevent overloading.
High capacity threshing system
The LEXION 600 is fitted with the well proven CLAAS APS threshing drum, which incorporates a redesigned concave to give improved early separation, reduced returns and a cleaner sample.
The main change in the threshing system is the new ROTO-PLUS secondary separation rotor fitted to the combine, which is essentially a hybrid of the rotors currently found on the LEXION 570 and 580 models.
The first part of the rotor on the LEXION 600 uses 'saw' type rotor flights for the initial separation, as used on the LEXION 580, whilst the second half of the rotor is fitted with 'peg' type flights similar to those on the LEXION 570, which combined provide optimum separation but with minimal straw damage where straw is to be baled.
Using the VRS (Variable Rotor Speed) system, the rotor speed can be infinitely varied from between 380rpm to 1050rpm from the cab, allowing the rotor speed to be set to match crop conditions.
In addition, the operator also has full in-cab control of the rotor concaves and at the flick of a switch is able to open three, four or all five of the concaves, to allow maximum output in difficult crop conditions.
To handle the higher quantity of grain coming from the threshing system, the LEXION 600 is fitted with a higher capacity version of the JET STEAM cleaning system launched last year on the LEXION 570.
On the LEXION 600, the cleaning area is 6.20m2 (compared to 5.80m2 on the LEXION 580) and the CLAAS 3D self-levelling sieve system is fitted as standard. As on the LEXION 570, JET STREAM uses a full length, removable preparation floor with plastic trays, but to accommodate the higher output is fitted with eight turbine fans.
A Grainmeter is also fitted as standard which consists of two tube sensors positioned at the end of the sieves, which detect the exact amount of grain in the returns and displays this information on the CEBIS display.
One of the greatest strengths of the LEXION rotary combine range is the effectiveness of their straw chopping systems, and the residue handling system fitted to the LEXION 600 is no exception
Both the chaff and chopped straw from the SPECIAL CUT II chopping unit, are blown directly into the POWER SPREADER unit, which has the ability to evenly spread chopped material over widths up to 12 metres (40ft). When laying swaths, the straw chopper is disengaged but the chaff blower still separates.
New OVERDRIVE transmission
At the heart of the LEXION 600 is a Mercedes Benz 503LA engine that generates 586hp EG80/1296 at 1,900rpm. at 1,900rpm.
The LEXION 600 is the first Claas combine to be supplied as standard with the CLAAS TERRA TRAC rubber track system, which incorporates full suspension. Where preferred wheels are available as an option.
Drive to the TERRA TRACs is via the CLAAS OVERDRIVE system, as previously used on MONTANA hill side combine range and JAGUAR foragers.
The OVERDRIVE transmission has two gear ranges - the first for field work and the second for transport. Within each of these gear ranges there are two hydrostatic speeds which can be changed under load at the flick of a switch, for instance shuttling down when climbing a hill, in order to maintain engine torque and traction.
The transmission has a higher road speed of 30kph for reduced noise and fuel consumption, and is controlled by a new pivoting 'fly-by-wire' hydrostatic control lever, which also incorporates all the main function control buttons. This has the benefit of being easier to use and provides the operator with far greater precision.
Standard specification on the LEXION 600 also includes a 12,000 litre capacity grain tank, which is emptied via a new extra long 8m spout, to allow the accompanying tractor and trailer to straddle the adjacent swath. The overall specification includes 3.9m wide Michelin Mega X Bib tyres on the front and full all-round lighting.
Telemetric output monitoring
In order to enable fleet operators or owners to access real-time output information, the LEXION 600 is the first commercially available combine that can be equipped with a 'Formula 1' Grand Prix type Telemetric monitoring system.
The system uses GPRS to transfer real-time information from the combine onto an internet server. From the farm office, this information can then be simply accessed by logging-on to the protected website, which will show 'up-to-the-minute' information not only on throughput, but current status including settings.
This also provides the opportunity, for CLAAS to provide operators with on-the-job training whilst they are driving the combine, and provide advice on which settings can be altered to achieve maximum throughput.
The new CLAAS LEXION 600, and covered by CLAAS Maxi-care service contract, will be available for the 2006 harvest, and costs £281,200 excluding the header.