Driven axles are rapidly growing in popularity in tractor-driven trailers, especially in Europe. German axle manufacturer BPW teamed up with Finnish motor manufacturer Black Bruin to create the new AGRO range of hydraulically driven axles. Since its launch at Agritechnica in November 2017, BPW AGRO Drive has attracted huge interest among trailer manufacturers, tractor operators and the media.

“There is no question that hydraulically driven axles are becoming more popular. The reasons for this are both new conditions such as longer runs and shorter application times as well as changing weather conditions which have an influence on soil conditions. The higher price of a hydraulically driven axle in relation to a non-driven axle must pay off for the operator through the right price-performance ratio. And with the AGRO Drive, he can drive in the fields when others can’t,” says Peter Lindner, Head of Agricultural Sales for Germany and the Benelux region at BPW.

Peter Lindner, Head of Agricultural Sales for Germany and the Benelux region at BPW.

“We immediately found the same wavelength with Black Bruin personnel. They were very flexible, for example designing the changes needed by our tyre pressure control system.”

Driven axles offer numerous benefits:

  • The end-customer can use a lighter and more affordable tractor to move heavy loads
  • In poor ground conditions, trailers cannot be fully loaded, otherwise they will get stuck. AGRO Drive enables trailers to cope with these loads.
  • Minimal soil damage thanks to reduced wheel slip and lower ground pressure
  • Operations less limited by weather, meaning extended seasons

After researching existing drive systems, from electric drive to ground speed PTO and the Robson drive system, BPW decided to focus on hydraulic drive as the best solution for today´s challenges.

“Electricity will certainly play a role in agriculture in the future, but the framework conditions are not yet mature and tractors cannot yet generate enough electricity for the trailer. With modern drives, however, they can provide sufficient hydraulic power for our auxiliary drive,” Lindner points out.

Two-year project from idea to series production

German axle manufacturer BPW contacted Finnish motor manufacturer Black Bruin during the agricultural technology trade fair Agritechnica 2015. The goal was set very soon: to launch hydraulically driven BPW axles during the next Agritechnica, which was scheduled for 2017.

“We immediately found the same wavelength with Black Bruin personnel. They were very flexible, for example designing the changes needed by our tyre pressure control system. Black Bruin can deliver a complete package, which fits best to integrate into the axle and with the brake system. The complete hydraulic drive is also sealed, so there is less risk of contamination than with an open hydraulic motor”, explains Mátyás Andrasi, Head of Product Development for Agriculture at BPW.

BPW AGRO drive hydraulic drive axle with Black Bruin 2-speed motors.

BPW already produces more than 20 different customer versions of its AGRO Drive axles. In future the product portfolio could be expanded even further, as the focus is on finding the right solution for each customer.

“Never before have we had such a great interest on a trade fair for an exhibit from vehicle manufacturers, tractor operators as well as the media. We have already produced many more axles for prototype testing by different trailer manufacturers than originally planned. The start of serial production has been extremely busy too,” Peter Lindner confirms.

Slurry tankers need drive

Hydraulically driven axles have been common on forestry trailers for years. The trend now is to use hydraulically driven axles also on slurry tankers and earthmoving pickup trailers.

“Slurry tanker manufacturers are designing more and more trailers with driven axles. The benefits are obvious, as fields are often soft and the loads are huge. Slurry wagons already have hydraulics and control systems, so this technology is not totally new for manufacturers. The hydraulically driven axle is an option that is more or less negligible and pays for itself quickly,” Lindner says.

Slurry tanker with hydraulically driven BPW AGRO Drive on front axle.

Black Bruin hydraulic motors offer several advantages for off-road trailer use compared to the competition:

  • Black Bruin motors have two speeds that can be changed on the fly, producing the right torque at each speed.
  • In addition, when driving over 30 km/h, the motor automatically goes into freewheeling mode.
  • Black Bruin hydraulic motors have more power and torque, so only one out of two or three axles need to have drive, thus reducing costs.
  • The motor has extra sealing for the extreme conditions faced in off-road applications, such as water, dust, dirt and changing temperatures.

The new BPW ARGO Drive axles are being manufactured on the production line at the BPW factory in Hungary.

“We also support our customers in maintenance and repair services, because it is a new technology for them. And of course we also take care of the spare parts service,” says Andrasi.

Matyás Andrasi, Head of Product Development for Agriculture at BPW, using Black Bruin On-Demand Drive System in a tractor cabin.

The performance of trailers with AGRO Drive axles has been very good in all field tests. The more difficult the conditions, the greater the benefit of a driven axle. Feedback from end-customers regarding AGRO Drive axles has also been very positive.

“The whole industry has a long way to go to find the optimal combinations for different applications, but for BPW and most agricultural trailer manufacturers, we are well on our way”, says Andrasi.

AGRO Drive was voted the Agricultural Technology Innovation 2018 in the Logistics category in the reader poll of the magazines Agrartechnik and Traction.

BPW Bergische Achsen is headquartered in Wiehl, Germany, and has subsidiaries in 50 countries worldwide. The company has annual turnover of EUR 1.35 billion and more than 6900 employees.

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