21st century harvesting with Great Plains and PTC Creo. “PTC Creo saves us three times the amount of time to design a new piece of farming equipment compared to our previous approach” says Tanner McClure, Product Engineer.
This is Macy. And I guess she wanted to be in the picture here, so. My dad and mom moved down here in 1945. We’re in south central Kansas, halfway between Hutchinson and Dodge City. And we grow wheat, alfalfa, corn, milo, and we tried canola for the first time this year. I like all aspects of farming.
You’ve got times of the year that you just can’t get everything done that you want to get done but this is something I wanted to do all my life, and I’m glad I chose this occupation. Technology is changing agriculture more than anything in probably the last 20 years. We started a company with an emphasis on product innovation. We are making products here that feed the world. What could be more fun than that?
We are highly-focused on innovation and developing new products, new methods, new machines, bringing new things to market. We bring the best tools to the engineering team that we can. We bring the best software to develop our products on. I work on the drill line. Specifically, the 3S-5000. The 3S-5000 is used to plant grains. In PTC Creo, we do, from start to finish, the entire design on this machine. From initial layouts, all the way to build and fully assembled. Everything is done in PTC Creo. You’re looking for a drill to do a better job of placing your seed, the accuracy of it, and that all returns a better yield. Every time I’ve ever purchased a piece of equipment like the Great Plains drill, it has improved our yield.
Our products are made here in small-town Kansas. We have six manufacturing facilities, three for the Ag division and three for our Land Pride division. And the best part about that is that these people know and understand what the products do, how they're to be used, and so as they're putting them together, they know that there's a real, live farmer customer at the other end that relies on this equipment being great. Great Plains engineering is good. Before I ever purchase one, I like to walk around it. I want to see how good it’s built.
Something that PTC Creo allows us to do is make a product that is built but not overbuilt, using PTC Creo Simulate; we can build something that will do everything that the customer will ask of it. It takes a high horsepower tractor to pull a 50-foot drill, and you fill it full of wheat and then, like this drill, we have fertilizer on it also. So it’s got to be built strong or you’re probably going to pull it apart. We are designing products nowadays that we wouldn’t have dreamed of designing before PTC Creo. So it’s not a matter of fact how much quicker it would have been, it just probably wouldn’t have been designed at all.
There are thousands of parts that go into the 3S-5000, and PTC Creo and PTC Windchill specifically allow us to keep track of where each of them is and how many we’re going to need on a single piece of equipment. PTC software is an essential part of the way that we do business. All of our products are smart products starting with ground preparation. And then you have the planting and seeding equipment. The better yields you can get with the minimal soil disruption and the better fertilizer, herbicide applications, the better it is for the environment.
We’re all worried about the environment, we all want to do as good a job as we can in the we all try to work that way, if you don’t do that, you’re probably going down a wrong road. I mean, that’s really important to us, and I think that everything we do today, that we are leaving the land in better shape than when we started it. I think that’s something that every farmer thinks about. He loves to be able to go out and grow crops and help feed the world.
In the 17th century, wooden plows were some of the most sophisticated tools available to farmers. Today, farmers grow record crops through innovative farming systems and the use of cutting-edge technology.
New high-tech farming equipment enables farmers to precisely place seed and fertilizer – even when fields have variable soil conditions and contours. The result is increased yields, improved soil conservation, and more reliable outcomes.
In a world with expanding populations and increasing needs for food, farmers rely on technology innovation from companies like Great Plains Manufacturing. Great Plains develops agricultural equipment for seedbed preparation, nutrient application, and seeding placement.
And local Kansas farmer, Wayne Miller, with 8,000 acres confirms the productivity gains with the new equipment. “The new Great Plains seeder (3S-5000) plants 120-130 acres more per day than my 30-footer (3S-3000)…the reason why we bought it is to get more done and be more efficient.”
Employees at Great Plains Manufacturing will tell you their goal is to design and build farming equipment that helps to feed the world by increasing crop yields, while promoting environmental sustainability. They are one of the largest privately held manufacturers of farm equipment and have been bringing agricultural innovations to market for nearly 40 years. Headquartered in Salina, Kansas, the company is constantly innovating to stay ahead of global competitors – often much larger than they are.
The company’s largest grain drill, the 3S-5000 is 50 feet wide and includes over 4,000 individual components. This machine is used for seeding and can also distribute dry fertilizer.
For Great Plains, product innovation starts at the design stage. “We innovate to stay ahead, because it's a very competitive business” states Greg Arnett, Engineering Manager at Great Plains. “We invest heavily in engineering, because we know how important it is to deliver great products for our customers. If innovation and quality are not built at the engineering stage, there is nothing our manufacturing process can do to make that better” states Linda Salem, Chief Operating Officer.
One example was pioneering the concept of vertical tillage. “When you have a field, you have different levels in the compacted soil and roots cannot reach moisture so the root spreads sideways. The crop can’t reach its full yield potential. And the plant does not become drought-tolerant and as nutrients are applied they run off” stated Linda Salem. Great Plains solved this problem with PTC Creo and developed several vertical tillage products. “Vertical tillage works the ground vertically rather than horizontally while breaking up and shattering layers in the soil giving the plants root system a better chance of success in dry times or in good times. The growing plant can also then use more of the soil nutrients” states Salem.
Great Plains design engineers are located in the United States and the United Kingdom. Design teams work on the complete machine, taking it from concept to production. The team can fully test the equipment with PTC Creo, including reliability and strength during operation, to simulating the equipment being prepared for transport. “PTC Creo saves us three times the amount of time to design a new piece of farming equipment compared to our previous approach” says Tanner McClure, Product Engineer “so we are getting products to market significantly faster.”
The tight integration between PTC Creo and PTC Windchill allows Great Plains design teams to increase productivity and more quickly design products across disparate design locations. “With PTC Windchill, so collaboration is easy” states 29 year Great Plains veteran Randy Jones, System Administrator. “An engineer based in England can work on one part while an engineer in Kansas can work on a different part in the same assembly. The engineer in England can save the design, and the engineer in Kansas receives an update and can see the latest changes. This facilitates real concurrent engineering and greater productivity.”
Designs can also be shared as lightweight viewables across the company, with manufacturing, sales, marketing, and customers.
PTC Creo helps the Great Plains team complete work faster with the ability to visualize and share designs with stakeholders around the world. Randy Jones, points out “We are designing products nowadays that we couldn’t have dreamed of designing before PTC Creo.” With PTC Creo, a precise 3D model is shared with the sales and marketing departments, and they can instantly see the complete design and provide feedback earlier. Most importantly, customers can fully visualize the product to get a real feel for its capabilities.
The results are impressive:
Check out Great Plains Manufacturing, the 3S-5000 seeder and see how great products come to life with PTC Creo.
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