Accurate weighing of loads is a useful bonus for contractors and merchants moving a variety of materials with a tractor loader, as one Devon contractor is finding with Quicke’s latest automated system. Jane Carley reports.
Materials handling in the agricultural sector is generally considered a fairly low-tech activity.
But for farmer and contractor Paul Burrough, of Newenham Agri in Axminster, Devon, keeping track of loads helps with the management and efficiency of the business.
Mr Burrough rears sucklers on contract and is now investing in his own herd, but also buys and sells straw, clamp silage, topsoil and woodchip.
He explains: “I can count and weigh bales as well as mark their location and keep control of stock simply by using the Q-companion device on my Quicke loader.”
The Quicke Q6M front-end loader was originally purchased with a Valtra T174, but has been moved across to his new Valtra T234, with the Q-companion system using weigh cells to weigh each individual load during the lifting cycle.
It is calibrated for weighing and position monitoring of multiple attachments, including a flat eight grab, round bale squeeze grab, bucket, fork and shear grab.
This, says Mr Burrough, allows accurate load weights to be calculated when loading with any of these attachments, which are individually stored in the device’s memory for selection.
Loading for up to five to six hours a day at certain times of year, the Q-companion performs a range of useful functions, Mr Burrough explains.
“The system weighs each load, with the data shown on the monitor in the cab and recorded,” he says.
“For example, for clamp silage I can precisely weigh the 10 tonnes the customer has ordered into the trailer, download the details to the phone app and then invoice directly from the phone or my office computer.”
Data from the app goes into Quicke’s ‘cloud’ via Bluetooth for transfer. Mr Burrough says it is simpler to enter the customer’s name and location as each job is completed, rather than having to do it all in the office at the end of the day.
The software is also compatible with the business’s Xero invoicing system, so screenshots from the app can be added as an attachment, making billing more professional.
Weighing also helps with accurate muck applications on the home farm.
Working with Soyl mapping software, which shows the required application rates for a particular field or part of a field, Mr Burrough can ensure loads taken to the field are within pre-set limits for compliance.
“It is also of use when clearing horse muck heaps. We can charge by the tonne based on what we weigh into the trailer, which is fairer all round.
“It is also possible to set a target weight for a total load and the monitor will confirm when that target is reached.”
Recording locations where bales have been sourced from, numbers and weights and then where they are stored, helps with stock control for the sales operation, says Mr Burrough.
“I know exactly how many bales I have on farm so can plan a sales campaign,” he says.
“I aim to sell as much straw as possible over the winter when prices are good, and to sell out before the new season starts. It is especially important with round bales which deteriorate over time.
“Another benefit is that the number of bales which have come from a particular field is confirmed and logged for my records and comparison.”
The system incorporates a status monitor which gives greater control over implement position and load.
It allows maximum heights to be input, at which point an alarm sounds, which is useful not just for work in low buildings, but also on the road, says Mr Burrough.
“It gives me a heads up if there are low cables on a narrow lane. It is easy to drive out of a gateway and forget, especially if the implement is out of sight of the roof window,” he says.
A further function is service alerts, which are based on loader hours rather than tractor hours so that 10-hour intervals for greasing and so on correspond to the work the loader has done.
Mr Burrough says Q-companion has benefited from a number of software updates which have made it easier to upload data, but that it is otherwise straightforward.
“While loading is an important part of the business, the tractor is used for ploughing and muck-spreading, when I will load the pre-weighed muck using a JCB 4CX,” he adds.
“The loader comes off easily and the Q-companion monitor stays with the tractor. The loader itself has proved durable and reliable.”
Loader control is via the joystick on the Valtra’s Smart Touch armrest and he comments it is a straightforward and comfortable set up.
Quicke’s recently launched QE-command loader control system integrates Q-companion via a scroll wheel on the joystick, which Mr Burrough comments would be of interest for a future loader purchase.
“Overall, the Q-companion system has made the weighing and managing of materials a lot more streamlined and efficient,” he says.
Model: Quicke Q6M
Maximum lift height at pivot: 4.25m
Maximum lift height under bucket: 3.95m
Lift capacity to maximum height: 2.47m
Loader weight: 720kg
Control: via Quicke Control System (QCS) or tractor joystick (as in this case)
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