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20 years Super-S - interview with the inventor

Friedrich Oberheide

In 2014 the Super-S boom celebrates its 20th birthday. Since the first machines were deliveried in 1994, many thousands of sprayer booms have been put into operation. From then until today, numerous details have been further-developed, however, the ingenuity is still as young and unrivalled now as it was then.

Why the Super-S boom of today, and of years ago, can still feature so many ingenious characteristics you can get a feel for by reading an interview with its designer, Dipl. Eng. Friedrich Oberheide.

Mr. Oberheide, which peculiarities have made the Super-S boom so successful?
Friedrich Oberheide: there are two areas I would like to mention first . They are, on the one hand, the vertical folding technology which enables its especially narrow transport width of just 2.4 m whereas, on the other hand, the Super-S boom is lighter than other booms but nevertheless the design is very strong. However, back then, these advantages were not new to us because we had already implemented them in the preceding boom, the so-called H-boom. But then, on the Super-S boom, all the segments could be folded via individual hydraulic rams at the pivot joints. Today such a folding system is a matter of course, but twenty years ago this just was the key point to be that decisive improvement.

So, the vertical folding technology existed already prior to the Super-S boom?
Friedrich Oberheide: yes, the first vertically folding boom for crop protection sprayers had already been developed by AMAZONE in 1980 in small numbers. This boom already featured a width of 18 metres; however, it still had to be folded by hand. Then increasingly, the demand for a hydraulically folding boom arose so that the driver did not have to leave the tractor.

Was AMAZONE, with this boom, the first manufacturer to rely on the vertical folding technology for crop protection sprayers?
Friedrich Oberheide: yes, indeed, this technology we developed here at AMAZONE.

And what did the first hydraulically folding booms look like?
Friedrich Oberheide: by 1986 we produced the so-called H-boom, initially up to 16 metres and later up to 21 metres working width. These booms had already been of a lightweight design; however they were equipped with just two large hydraulic rams for folding out and for folding in. These rams served as a lever for the stainless steel (V4A) ropes which were guided via pulleys of differing size at the individual boom segments. The actuation of this boom was very simple, because via a sole double-acting control valve on the tractor, the boom was folded in or out and working width reduction was possible. This functioned very well; however, it still had the decisive disadvantage that neither one-side folding nor a definitive reduction was possible.
How did you solve the problem of folding?riedrich Oberheide: The comfortable handling – also in large working widths – became possible from 1994 with the Super-S boom which we offer until today with a working width of up to 28 metres. With the Super-S boom, for the first time, we folded every individual segment via each one hydraulic ram. For this we could use especially light and stable rams from the in-house AMAZONE ram production. For weight reasons this was and still is an enormous benefit. Thanks to this safe hydraulic rams the folding technology became much more flexible and above all left plenty of room for improvements. With the folding via strong hydraulic rams we could extend the programme from 21 m up to 28 m. "Flexible folding technology" means, that, im combination with our Profi Fold 1, each one control circuit exists for the left- and for the right hand boom half, for the height adjustment, the boom locking and the tilt adjustment. With Profi Fold 2 the angling is added. So, the introduction of the Super-S boom resulted in a significant leap forward in comfort and thus also to a rapid rise of demand on AMAZONE mounted and trailed sprayers.

 Back again to the vertical folding of the Super-S boom: where are the decisive benefits?
Friedrich Oberheide: the decisive benefit can be summarised in one sentence: "Where your tractor can fit through the Super-S boom can also fit." Thanks to the vertical folding to the rear of the sprayer, the Super-S boom has a transport width of only 2.4 m. This is a very important criterion for safety in road traffic. So, collisions with the boom can be avoided. At the same time the slight inclination of the boom towards the front improves the centre of gravity. Especially on mounted sprayers, every kg of weight that is saved is of great value. In addition, in road transport, the boom sits absolutely fixed in its transport hooks. So we prevent rattling and wear during fast road transport or when going over potholes. Because the boom is folded to the rear of the sprayer, no spray agent drops onto the tractor or the operator terminal on the sprayer as with other boom folding systems.

By the way, AMAZONE was not only the first one, but for a long time also the only manufacturer, who has relied on the vertical folding technology. The same applies to the lightweight design, which we had already introduced with the H-boom. Sure, in the first years, we were laughed at for this by our competitors; however the success of the boom has now proved us right. In the meantime, now all  our competitors have sprayer booms with vertical folding systems in their programme.

With its lightweight design you use the AMAZONE slogan "Superbly strong and yet superbly light". Why does it matter to design a steel boom as light as possible and nevertheless robust?
Friedrich Oberheide: it is the so-called “profile design” where we use thin but wider metal sheet profiles. This saves weight. By bending these sheets to a C-profile we achieve an enormous rigidity. Imagine: you fold a sheet of paper into a paper dart, this is light but nevertheless robust. This is why our marketing department also named this design the so-called aircraft wing design.
Additional weight we save by punching holes from the wide centre of the profiles. Right from the beginning, these C-profiles could be manufactured in the AMAZONE werke  because in those days we were already equipped with punch-dye machines and presses  on our fertiliser spreader production line. Today, however, these holes are no longer punched but cut out by laser.

Doesn't the danger exist that dirt or liquids can be deposited in the folds of these profiles?
Friedrich Oberheide: that is no problem, because initially, when the boom is folded upwards the liquid can escape and second our booms feature a very high quality stove enamel finish which can cope with a possible dirt deposit. As a protection against corrosion we also use stainless steel (V2A) for all the hydraulic fittings. Today, this is the absolute quality criterion for a good boom.

Have there been additional innovations which you have developed with the Super-S boom?
Friedrich Oberheide: yes, we also developed from scratch the central pendulum suspension of the Super-S boom. So that we ensure the most effective applicationof plant protection agents, it is of decisive importance that the boom is guided evenly above the crop. Here, above all, both, vertical and also horizontal roll movements have to be avoided, for instance when the tractor starts driving, brakes or drives around a curve. Therefore, we have developed the three-fold shock absorbance system. It consists on the one hand of tensioning springs which take over the vertical shock loading of the entire boom suspension, and on the other hand of spring dampening elements with a ball point suspension which provides the absorbance of any yaw movement. The eradication of the horizontal roll pendulum movement is achieved by an additional combined spring and shock absorber package.

With the aid of this spring package, and thanks to the shortened pendulum, it means that in the inclined position on slopes, the boom follows virtually parallel to the main frame of the field sprayer. In other words: potholes and ground undulations do not reach the boom. Even in operation in this slightly inclined position, the springs also pull the boom into this position parallel to the main frame. With this solution we are well positioned both on level ground and also in sloping terrain.

Also whilst on the topic of robustness, also the conical pivot joint from AMAZONE comes into play. What can you add about that?
Friedrich Oberheide: yes, this was an additional technical innovation which we have introduced with the Super-S boom. One quality criterion for our machines is, of course, also the longevity of the individual parts. So, for instance, the pivot points between the individual boom segments should not wear out, even after years of use. The usual cylindrical pins, with their inherent minor play, do not usually achieve this objective. Our conical and hardened tapered pins, however, always fit precisely and without movement into the relevant hole without wear and without having to be lubricated. In this way we can ensure our customers even after many years still have an optimum boom functionality.

Has there been in the course of the last 20 years further developments of the Super-S boom? What has changed since?
Friedrich Oberheide: we did not change anything on the basic boom philosophy, however, in view of the increasing customers' demands we, of course, developed further many details. So, over the course of the time we, for instance, further increased the ram forces to be able to operate even with larger working width on sloping terrain. Today it isn’t a problem to operate with a Super-S boom even on slopes where previously one could only cope with a 15 m boom. Today our customers expect that they can fold the boom in and out when the machine is sitting on a slope with an inclination of 15°.

The AMAZONE sprayer range offers, in addition to the Super-S boom also a Q-Plus and a Super-L boom. How can these three be differentiated?
Friedrich Oberheide: AMAZONE offers the Super-S boom which covers the working width range from 15 m to 28 m both for the UF mounted sprayers and also is found on the UG and UX trailed sprayers. A favourably priced alternative for the use on a UF mounted sprayer is the Q-Plus boom in working widths from 12 m to 15 m. This boom features a horizontal folding and therefore achieves a transport width of 3 m. The Super-L boom, in working widths from 24 m to 40 m, is offered only on the UX trailed sprayers and the Pantera self-propelled. On this boom, the segments, which are significantly longer than on the Super-S boom, are folded next to the sides of the sprayer tank so that we ensure also here a minimum transport width. These are the main differences. Due to their similar profile design and conical joint pins, the Q-Plus and the Super-L boom also fit perfectly into our boom philosophy because, as a matter of principle, they are also as light and as strong a design as the Super-S boom


VIDEO: Amazone UF field sprayer with Super-S boom

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