In 2011 Versatile introduced the RT 490 combine. It was the first time the brand — under its current ownership — has offered one since combine production in Winnipeg ceased a few decades ago. Versatile’s parent company combine manufacturer Rostselmash of Russia built and supplied the RT 490 to the Winnipeg brand.
Adam Reid, marketing manager for Versatile, says the decision was made to update the RT 490 now that it has several years of service in North America under its belt. The upgrades incorporated into its replacement were based largely on Canadian and U.S. customer feedback.
“The RT 490 was a great combine for us; it was an older platform,” he says. “We introduced it in North America in 2011-12. What we found was the productivity was very good. The threshing capacity was great, but we needed to make some improvements to the cab and the operator interface. Now we’re able to introduce the RT 520.”
The RT 520 uses the same basic threshing body used on the 490, but it did see some improvements to further improve harvesting performance.
“The bulk of the machine is the same in terms of the mechanics of it,” he explains. “But we have a bigger clean grain elevator than we had before, which will actually help improve capacity, especially in wet crops. We have a new feeder chain system on the front.”
The new combine also gets some updated overall styling. But the biggest improvements are related to making the operator more comfortable.
“We found the feedback from the customers has been good on the threshing,” Reid notes. “But they really wanted more operator comfort, especially with the amount of time you spend in there. So in addition to making the cab bigger, we’ve made it quieter.
“It’s a 30 per cent bigger cab. It’s inline with what the North American industry expects. It’s much more user friendly, much more ergonomic than the RT 490.”
The RT 520 will use a 520 horsepower Tier IV Final-compliant Cummins QSG 12-litre diesel for power, which is where the 520 moniker comes from. Access to the engine bay, along with other components, gets a bit of a redesign as well to make service and repair easier.
“We probably have more power in this combine than we actually need” Reid says. “We’ve never had a farmer complain to us about the power.
“In terms of working on the machine, it’s a lot easier. The panels open up way wider than some of our competition and access to the engine bay is a lot different. It’s built in that Versatile philosophy of being simple, reliable and easy to maintain.”
It also gets a much-improved lighting package, more than doubling the total light output that was available on the 490.
“All the changes the customers have been asking us for have now been integrated into the 520,” says Reid.
Versatile plans to ease the RT 520 into the North American market in limited numbers for this season.
“2018 will be a limited release,” he confirms. “Versatile tends to approach all our new products with a little more caution at the outset, just to make sure we’re providing the right product to the market.”
And Reid adds that the 520 will have a price point advantage over the other main competitors on the market, somewhere in the neighbourhood of about 15 per cent.