Harsewinkel, Germany

Modern Testing Technology for CLAAS Combine Harvesters

[ Published in HOERBIGER@MOTION 02/2011 ]

In 1936, the Westphalian agricultural machinery manufacturer Gebrüder CLAAS introduced the first European combine harvester, the reaper-thresher-binder (MDB). It was a mechanical marvel. Today, harvester-threshers are high-performance machines boasting sophisticated drive technology and comprehensive on-board electronics. Through modern testing technology, HOERBIGER ensures that the complex electric systems operate flawlessly on delivery.

With the LEXION 600 and 700, CLAAS presented a new generation of powerful large combines in 2010. In 1995, the first LEXION model was the most powerful combine in the world, harvesting up to 40 tons of grain per hour. The current top product, the LEXION 770, easily manages twice this amount under the right conditions. When processing corn, it clearly surpasses the 100-ton-an-hour mark. It features innovations in every respect: in the drive, cutter bar and threshing unit, and in particular driving and operating comfort. One of the key new developments is the cab.

The cockpit of the new LEXION affords the driver more freedom of movement, well-organized controls, excellent all-round visibility as well as air conditioning. However, not only is the design of the CLAAS LEXION cab a new development–the assembly of the cab also underwent major changes at CLAAS Selbstfahrende Erntemaschinen GmbH. HOERBIGER Elektronik GmbH was able to significantly contribute to the development of the cab. HOERBIGER Elektronik GmbH from Ammerbuch, Germany, is considered a Hidden Champion in the development of test consoles and testing software.

All electrical components of a combine harvester are controlled and monitored from the cab. Previously, during the final inspection CLAAS tested all electrical circuits and the interfaces to performance-defining functions of the combine to ensure flawless operation. Subsequent rework of parts due to malfunctions entailed high costs for the required work.

To avoid these costs, HOERBIGER Elektronik GmbH developed a new cab test stand for CLAAS in close cooperation with the company. The testing system allows all electrical components to be checked as early as on the assembly line under simulated real-life conditions. The benefit: the early detection of defects avoids costly surprises during the final inspection.

The number of interfaces demonstrates just how multifaceted the scope of testing in a combine is: the cab test stand developed for CLAAS has 136 digital and 18 analog inputs, 32 digital and 24 analog outputs, as well as 16 frequency outputs and 6 CAN bus connections. The contact between the cabs and the test stands is established by adapter cable sets.

This allows the HOERBIGER test console to be used for more than the cabs of the new LEXION combine. Additionally, the electrical functions in the cabs of the mid-range TUCANO combines and the AVERO combine harvesters as well as in the cockpit of the JAGUAR forage harvester and the large XERION tractor can also be tested with HOERBIGER technology. It goes without saying that all HOERBIGER test stands are network-compatible: USB interfaces, LAN and WLAN, and high-speed CAN are standard features. To make the work of the assembly staff easier, the cab test stand can be operated via the 19 inch touch screen as well as from the cab using the wirelessly coupled "SmartControl" remote. This is a considerable benefit when performing quality controls of large machines.


Once a driver's cab has been completed, the manufacturer performs a final and exhaustive test run. Here, HOERBIGER test stands show their full potential: they inspect all electrical components and controllers and document the results. HOERBIGER Elektronik GmbH supplies comprehensive tailor-made solutions, which are optimized to the respective field of application and the individual task and which are capable of expanding to accommodate future requirements. Professional engineering assures the customer turnkey solutions and enables the start of production without delay.

Part of

Within the HOERBIGER Group, HOERBIGER Elektronik is the specialist for testing and diagnostic technology, control technology, and industrial electronics. The company was founded in 1985 and presently employs a staff of 60 people. The majority of hardware and software is produced in-house. The best-selling products are flash, testing and diagnostic systems for the vehicle industry. In addition to stationary testing systems such as the cab test stand developed for the CLAAS Group, the product portfolio includes mobile testing devices such as the HOERBIGER Porty EVO III used in truck manufacturing for quality assurance purposes.


With the MDB reaper-thresher-binder in 1936, CLAAS successfully launched the first European harvester-thresher, laying the foundation for the combine production operation of CLAAS. Today, the company is one of the most successful manufacturers of agricultural machinery worldwide, generating sales of 2.5 billion euros (2010). More than 9,500 employees in 14 locations supply the world market. The project teams of CLAAS and HOERBIGER worked closely together in developing the new testing system. The layout and procurement of the cab testing technology was embedded in the overall project and formed a sub-project for restructuring the cab assembly operation at the CLAAS site in Harsewinkel. Preparations for the testing technology had to be made without interrupting production and had to allow for the technology to be installed and commissioned inside of only two weeks.