Executives say extensive customer feedback and field testing were key in fine tuning the final design of three new market-ready products
It’s all culminated at one time for us,” says Morris chief operating officer Don Henry. “Our disc drill has been a five year project, same with the air carts. And the other big one is our Input Control Technology. We’ve been working on that for over three years.”
Now, all those products are ready to enter production. Morris chose to hold a media event on the grounds of Canada’s Farm Progress Show in Regina in June to introduce them and unveil a new corporate paint scheme for its air carts.
“This product launch is quite a significant event for us because we’re really turning over 50 per cent of our technology, said Casey Davis, president and chief executive officer of Morris, during the event. “So we’re pretty excited about it.”
While reporters stood nearby, executives literally pulled the wraps off an all-new, 9 Series cart wearing a two-tone paint scheme as camera shutters clicked. “We wanted to do a facelift (on air carts),” explained Henry. “Our Eight Series has been out for seven years and there were some things we needed to update. Farmers were asking for that.”
But while the grey-over-red 9 Series carts have a new look and a new model number designation, they also sport a host of updated features based largely on customer input gleaned during their development phase. Henry said engineers spent a lot of time talking to farmers, dealers and others about what they wanted in new cart design.
The 9 Series
Building safety into the new cart was one of the main considerations. The 9 Series was built around the concept of “one farmer working alone all night” says the company’s press release. Engineers included features that minimize fall risks and make access easier. “The new stairway and walkway improve access to the tank lids, and ascending or descending the stairway is similar to how stairs are used in a house,” said director of research and development, Jack Lesanko.
The 9 Series carts sizes range from the smallest model, the 9365, with two 185-bushel compartments, to the four-compartment 9800, which is divided into 265-, 133- and 284-bushel segments.
Deciding to offer an 800-bushel cart was also the result of input from end users. “We needed feedback on that,” says Henry. “The consensus in the marketplace, from our dealers, from our customers, from our grower council was around that 800 bushels is right.”
The 9 Series carts are also available with another of the new products Morris introduced this year, Input Control Technology (ICT), which minimizes seeding overlap. The company has shown this feature at the CFPS before, but just as a prototype and not ready for market release. After getting farmer feedback on that design too, Henry said Morris finished tweaking it and is now confident it is ready to go into production. The ICT system is controlled by a Topcon X-30 monitor.
“You know what, it pencils out,” Henry said. “As a farmer I know what my variable costs are per acre. If my overlap is, say, seven per cent, I can pencil it out and probably pay for it (ICT) in one year. The challenge we have as a manufacturer is it’s got to work. There’s some serious technology here.”
ICT controls use the same fluted roller design Morris has relied on for seed metering in all its carts for several years. ICT simply uses actuators to engage and disengage individual roller sections. This system allows for immediate response in stopping and starting seed flow.
Just like the ICT, visitors to CFPS in previous years have also seen the company’s Razr disc drill shown as an unnamed prototype, again to get farmer feedback. Four examples of that drill have been in field trials on three continents for a few years now. It offers farmers faster working speeds by using a walking beam opener to better follow ground contours, and its available with 7.5-, 10- and 15-inch row spacings.
“We had some discussions before last year’s Farm Progress Show: are we ready to release it?” explained Henry. “When we talk about the Razr that’s commercially available this year, we found out with the four units we had out, one in Australia, one in Russia, one in Kazakhstan, one in Canada, that there was still some tweaking we needed to do.”
This year those tweaks have been made and the drill is about to enter production.
But did those previews of ICT and the Razr take away a little of the buzz that now surrounds their official launch to the marketplace? If they did, Henry thinks it was still worth it to show the prototypes to farmers ahead of their introductions.
“We were able to explain what we were thinking and doing, and as a result were able to get some great quality feedback,” he said. “As a developer, we could have put our blinders on and said we’ve got a great product here. We’re going to hide it from everyone and splash it at the show. That’s a high-risk thing to do. If it doesn’t go as planned ayou’ve put a lot of time and resources into it. But we’ve allowed the market to see it. We got the feedback, and we incorporated that into our design.”
For a video look at the new Morris products, watch the E-QuipTV episode at www.grainews.ca/videos. †