From farmer to machine constructor

Hermann Paintner on Bavarian Radio and Television - demonstration video 1973

It was 1972 when the 25-year old farmer Hermann Paintner designed and built his first self-propelled sugar beet harvester at his parents’ farm.

Bavarian Radio and Television became aware of this development in 1973 and requested an interview.


The year was 1972 when 25-year-old farmer Hermann Paintner designed and built his first self-propelled sugar beet harvester at his parents’ farm. With the assistance of friends and the support and goodwill of his parents, particularly his father, his passion for design had its first great achievement. The first machine was built almost entirely of second-hand parts. He was a welcome visitor at local scrap dealers.

The component parts of his machine may have been old, but his ideas were not. At first the experts in the field wrote him off as an immature idealist without any practical experience. They predicted no or hardly any success for somebody totally lacking well-founded technical training. And yet, they soon learned otherwise to accomplish such a feat. It was not the well-known companies with their large numbers of technicians and engineers that were leaders in the competition but a young farmer from the lower Bavarian hills.


Even as a child Hermann Paintner was very interested in technical subjects, an interest which only increased as he grew up. Almost as play he began convert his ideas and thoughts into practice. He was in his element tinkering and assembling, sawing and welding, drilling and machining. He had his field of operation on his parents' farm, which he was intended to take over in time. There was hardly a machine on the farm on which he had not made any technical changes in his early years. Even if a change was not always an improvement, the attempt was still worth it.


In 1974 there were enough people interested in another machine that he could start a small production series. However, there was not enough room on the Paintner farm. There was also not enough equipment and personnel for a manufacturing company. So Hermann Paintner looked for a partner, which he found in the small Holmer agricultural technology company. Hermann Paintner designed and built machines for Holmer on a freelance basis.Holmer, System Paintner" became a standard term for six-row, self-propelled sugar beet harvesting technology in Germany and other parts of Europe. They worked together for 10 years and then separated.


ROPA Fahrzeug- und Maschinenbau GmbH was founded. Sittelsdorf was selected as the headquarters. Inspired by new ideas and with great energy Hermann Paintner set about designing a simpler and more economical version of the sugar beet harvester. However, this machine, with a small intermediate bunker, was not successful.


Hermann Paintner was already known at Südzucker AG as a designer to be reckoned with, and he was commissioned with the task of converting a patented beet loader. ROPA purchased the sole licence for manufacture and sales from Mr Fischer in Eggmühl. Thus production of the “Lade-Maus“ (mouse-loader) as the machine is called among professionals started. This machine cleans and loads the sugar beet from the clamp at the edge of the field on the truck on the road. The truck takes the load to the sugar refinery.


A new design for a complete sugar beet harvester was started, and this machine was to bring ROPA resounding success in the market. A new frame design that allowed larger tyres had a bunker capacity 35% greater than any competitors. It was first shown in autumn 1988 at the international sugar beet harvesting demonstration in Seligenstadt. All major European manufacturers were represented at the harvesting demonstration. The new ROPA bunker harvester had the best cleaning results combined with gentle handling of the sugar beets and the lowest possible soil pressure. The professionals paid attention and the competition was faced with a new manufacturer on the market.


The then largest bunker harvester in the world with a bunker capacity of 35 m³ (22 t) was designed to meet the ever-growing demands for output and productivity. The 3-axle machine was introduced at the harvesting demonstration in Seligenstadt. Both customers and the professional world were enthusiastic.


The width of the pickup on the harvester was increased from 6.7 m to 8.3 m. An additional driver's cabin was installed at the rear of this model. This was required for approval for road driving, because the chain pickup obscured the driver's vision too much otherwise.


The chain pickup on the harvester was replaced by the roller pickup. The patented pinch roller system enabled the cleaned dirt to be distributed on the complete width of the pickup.


The birth year of the euro-Tiger and the euro-Maus. A better equipped cabin ensured the best possible view of the working parts and all-round vision for orientation during work. The sophisticated electronic system controlled and monitored the mechanical processes. Improved hydraulics and a better diesel engine increased the output and operating safety of the machine.


The articulation angle of the euro-Tiger was increased from 15° to 30° to improve its manoeuvrability. It could now turn very tightly even in small fields. Maximum area production per hour the lowest harvesting costs per hectare are the result. Because the first strainer wheel is precisely below the articulated joint, it can always pick up the complete beet flow from the infeed conveyor.


The heart of every sugar beet harvester is the lifting unit. Its productivity determines the speed of the machine. After testing in the previous year, the first new design of the PR lifting unit went into production in 2004.


The euro-Tiger V8 goes into production. Comprehensive new developments, particularly in the field of control and regulating technology combined with a new hydraulic design and electronic load-sensing system, make the euro-Tiger V8 the world's most productive sugar beet harvester. The over-wide lifting unit used in the PR-XL series is now being introduced outside Europe in the USA and Canada for the first time.


ROPA designed a new defoliator unit to match the blockage-free PR lifting unit for extremely weed-infested sugar beet fields and sticky black soils. Four sensor wheels in the track maintain the sturdy defoliator at a constant height even in the most uneven fields. An enlarged leaf auger with solid and angular windings moves even very large volumes of leaves and weeds to the leaf spreader on the left through a round auger channel.


ROPA has developed an innovative transport and coupling system for transporting the PR-XL lifting units on public roads. The extra wide lifting units with raised defoliator are towed lengthways behind the euro-Tiger V8 on a trailer with an airbrake system.


The new euro-Maus 3 was exhibited for the first time at the international machine demonstration in Seligenstadt. The overall design of the cleaner-loader combines familiar features and proven components of the euro-Tiger V8 with the latest technical innovations from ROPA. ROPA is setting new standards for user-friendliness, reliability and ease of service with the euro-Maus 3. A colour operator terminal optimised for ease of control with active status monitoring, integrated data recording and a drive design maximised for efficiency are only some of the innovations in the euro-Maus 3.


Numerous detail improvements in the euro-Tiger V8-3 make it even more economical and efficient and provide even more comfort in professional sugar beet harvesting.


ROPA company demonstration - lifting in snow and enthusiastic guests. Even with the wintry weather and temperatures around freezing more than five thousand visitors cam to the company demonstration at Sittelsdorf. In addition to the demonstration, the event was held under the banner of ROPA's "togetherness". The large number of visitors in the comfortably heated assembly buildings had ample time and opportunity to discuss ideas. And of course there was no shortage of refreshments.


The ROPA NawaRo Maus significantly increases the efficiency of the logistics chain for biogas systems. The euro-NawaRo Maus picks up chaff such as corn silage and wood chips from the clamp at the edge of the field and loads it into high-capacity trucks. The euro-NawaRo Maus can load 10 to 15 m³ per minute into trucks. The current pickup width is 8 m. The great advantage of the design is the separation of the chaff chain in the field from the logistics on the road.


The largest and most spectacular loader of all times. The ROPA euro-Maus 4 is a completely new generation of the self-propelled cleaner loader for sugar beets with completely new dimensions and a pickup system over 10.2 metres wide. Perfected in capacity and efficiency concept combines practice-oriented development with the most recent technical innovations from the ROPA House. The new loader is distinguished by its over 9 m long counterweight arm – designed by Hermann Paintner himself – and offers the best possible stability even at an extended truck loading length.


Crowds at the ROPA demonstrationSignificantly more than 10,000 came to the demonstration at ROPA Fahrzeug- und Maschinenbau GmbH in Sittelsdorf, a genuine record. The number of visitors far exceeded the most optimistic expectations. The dry weather, the wide range of exhibits and the demonstrations of the largest cleaning loader yet designed, the ROPA euro-Maus 4, and the completely redesigned biogas system for generating power from sugar beets, were the great attractions of the largest demonstration in the region.


Introduction of the new ROPA euro-Tiger V8-4 topper harvester. The highly efficient euro-Tiger V8 carries out all stages of the harvesting procedure such as topping, lifting and cleaning the beets and final emptying of the bunker onto the pile. The sugar beets are conveyed by a ring elevator and gently loaded into the bunker, which has a load capacity of over 40 m³. Automatically activated bunker unloading is performed in less than a minute. The new Micro-Topper with automatic cutting strength adjustment is now available from ROPA as standard equipment. That means the beet is no longer cut too much. Farmers and machine operators alike welcome this development.


ROPA demonstrates the prototype of the two-axle sugar beet harvester at Beet Europe. The new 2-axle machine is called the euro-Panther and becomes part of the ROPA family of feline predators. After 18 years ROPA is again manufacturing two-axle sugar beet harvesters with a visionary design. Numerous new developments in the ROPA two-axle topper harvester have resulted in improved yield and higher daily performance with efficient sugar beet harvesting combined with soil protection.


More than 12,000 international visitors came to see demonstrations of ROPA innovations. Hermann Paintner also showed the first beet harvester he manufactured in 1972. A comprehensive programme with great variety including demonstrations of the new ROPA euro-Panther with two axles and slope compensation, the ROPA-euro-Maus 4 and the mass demonstration of seven sugar beet harvesters from Sittelsdorf in the field simultaneously kept visitors interested. In addition to the demonstrations, the event was held under the banner of ROPA's "togetherness". Visitors had the opportunity to discuss ideas and experiences in the comfortably heated manufacturing buildings with greatly enlarged hospitality areas and a bar.


Presentation of the ROPA Panther as a production model at AgriTechnica. ROPA has given the new two-axle machine "extremely large paws“, automatic wheel load and slope compensation with roll stabilisation, super long unloading elevator, to name only a few of the numerous innovations. R-Concept, the new intuitive operation concept in the newly designed R-Cab sets new standards for self-propelled harvesting technology. In summary, new developments in the Panther increase the daily output at reduced operating costs, and simplify maintenance and repair. The operator experiences improved driving comfort with economical, efficient and soil-protective harvesting of sugar beet.


The two ROPA Keiler 1 and Keiler 2 potato harvesters were presented to the public at AgriTechnica. The ROPA Keiler 1 is a one-row trailed potato harvester with a 4.3 t or 6.1 t bunker. It has been specifically designed for customers with increased demands for the highest quality (ware potato) and, at the same time, requiring thorough and extremely gentle cleaning and excellent haulm separation. Due to the own Load-Sensing hydraulics the pintle belts, among others, can be adjusted fully hydraulic in rotational speed. The ROPA Keiler 2 is a completely redesigned potato harvester. A telescopic axle with extra large 750/60R 30.5 or optionally 800/45 R 30.5 tyres enables a width of 3.00 metres on the road and the track can be extended to 3.50 metres in the field for greatly improved stability. This results in significantly enhanced safety for staff on the picking table, because even in extremely difficult terrain the risk of rollover is greatly reduced.


ROPA presents for the first time at Beet Europe, the leading trade fair in sugar beet technology, the Tiger 5 the new top class in 3-axle sugar beet harvesters. The advanced chassis system with roll stabilisation and slope compensation has already been implemented in the 2-axle ROPA Panther. In the new Tiger 5 this concept has been supplemented with a hydraulic chassis suspension for the rear axles, which was further developed and perfected on three drive axles.


ROPA presented at its open house for the first time the prototype of the new Maus 5 loader. Based on the proven euro-Maus 4, the R-Concept, already familiar in the Panther and Tiger 5, has been integrated and supplemented with numerous comfort functions. Perfected in capacity and efficiency concept with 10.2 m wide pickup system combines practice-oriented developments with the most recent technical innovations from the ROPA House. Specially designed by Hermann Paintner about 9 m long counterweight arm guarantees utmost stability even with a maximum extended loading width.


On November 23 2014 The traditional company open house with demonstrations of sugar beet harvesting took place in the beet fields around the ROPA plant in Sittelsdorf. More than 20,000 international visitors came on the day for the commissioning of 2.7 ha of new production buildings on 7 ha of new company land. The family company showed off the new assembly centre for the first time. A total of 30 million euros has been invested in the assembly plant with upstream shot-blasting and powder-coating plants that meet the latest environmental standards. PMB Paintner Maschinenbau GmbH also held an open day for inspection of the advanced metal engineering, frame production, laser cutting and precision CNC machining facilities.


ROPA presented for the first time at the largest agricultural trade fair in France the Tiger 5 as the new example of top class of 3-axle sugar beet harvesters. The advanced chassis system with roll stabilisation and slope compensation has already been implemented in the 2-axle ROPA Panther. In the new Tiger 5 this concept has been supplemented with a hydraulic chassis suspension for the rear axles, which was further developed and perfected on three drive axles!

The Tiger 5 was given the Machine of the Year 2015 award for the overall design with the new traction system for increased soil protection combined with the R-Concept operating philosophy!


ROPA was awarded a silver medal for innovation for the Tiger 5 with R-Soil Protect at Agritechnica in Hanover.The innovative and advanced traction design is the new standard for sustainable soil protection. The advanced chassis system with roll stabilisation and slope compensation was already implemented in the 2-axle ROPA Panther in time for Agritechnica 2013. In the new Tiger 5 this concept has been supplemented with a hydraulic chassis suspension for the rear axles, which was further developed and perfected on three drive axles with the new Cerexbib tyres!


The ROPA Tiger 6, the most powerful sugar-beet lifter in the world, will be introduced to the world at the Agrosalon trade fair and it will be awarded a gold medal for innovation for its overall design. The heart of the machine is the new 700 hp or 768 hp engine with pump-nozzle injection and 16.12 litre capacity. Compared to the Tiger 5, power has been increased to 105 kW (142 hp). The new machine design has a perfectly integrated drive system with automatic slope compensation and is extremely gentle on the soil. The more powerful bunker-emptying mechanism provides faster truck loading on the move. The comfort cabin with glass touch terminal, WLAN interface and numerous automatic programmes offers top driving comfort for the best lifting results.


ROPA is pushing forward to a new performance dimension with the Panther 2. Sporty modern design with manoeuvrability and agility combines with a "workhorse" in the new Panther 2 for pure pleasure when lifting beets. There are sufficient power reserves for the most extreme lifting conditions, and using XL lifting attachment demonstrates the centrepiece of it all: the new 700 hp or 768 hp Volvo inline engine with pump-nozzle injection and 16.12 litre capacity. The award winning and soil-protecting chassis system with roll stabilisation and automatic slope compensation have been flawlessly integrated into the new machine design. The unloading conveyor derived from the Tiger 6 with a more powerful hopper emptying facilitates quicker loading during the drive. The new comfort cabin with glass touch terminal and numerous automatic programmes is the basis for outstanding driving comfort and the best lifting results.


On Sunday, November 20, 2016, the traditional company open house with demonstrations of sugar beet harvesting was opened at 10 a.m. at the ROPA plant in Sittelsdorf. This time the 30th anniversary of the ROPA company was celebrated with 12,000 to 15,000 visitors. Various self-propelled machines, including the introduction of the new Tiger 6 and Panther 2 sugar beet harvesters, were in operation on the fields around the ROPA factory. The sugar beets were loaded directly after harvesting with the spectacular ROPA Maus 5 and shredded and silaged at the experimental pilot biogas plant.


ROPA and the ROPA France team presented the latest sugar-beet and potato-harvesting technology and also Albach wood chippers at Sima in Paris, the largest agricultural equipment trade fair in France. The new Tiger 6 and Panther 2 beet lifters were introduced to the world at Sima. The heart of the new design of the two machines is the new 700 hp or 768 hp Volvo 16.12 litre engine with pump-nozzle injection. The ROPA Keiler potato harvesters made an impression with their very high-quality finish, the fully hydraulic drive and numerous unique technical features.


At Agritechnica in Hannover ROPA along with Farmpilot presented a comprehensive systems solution for networking all parties involved in order data management in sugar beet harvesting and transport logistics.

R-Connect farmpilot is an intelligent networked and company-independent farm and logistics management system offering significant increases in efficiency in sugar beet logistics. The system-independent networking provides immediate planning and order data to all parties involved without transmission errors. The live transmission from the machine terminal with presentation of harvesting settings, sensor values and playback function is setting new standards.


With 2803 exhibitors and more than 450,000 visitors AGRITECHNICA continues to expand its role as the leading trade fair for agriculture and agricultural technology.

ROPA is presenting the company's premium products and the latest innovations in the field of self-propelled sugar beet harvesters, loaders and the Keiler potato harvester at a large booth covering a total area of 1,359 m². With the ROPA Panther 2 with RR-XL lifter, the R-Connect Farmpilot, the drive axle with ISO-BUS automatic controls in the Keiler 2 and technical innovations on the Tiger 6 there is much to see at Agritechnica.


ROPA wins the Red Dot Design Award 2018 for outstanding product design with the Tiger 6

The Red Dot Jury has handed down its decision: after detailed testing of all submitted products over several days of evaluation, the ROPA Tiger 6 has been awarded the "Red Dot" in the Design Award 2018. The committee of experts only awards the internationally acknowledged seal of quality to products that combine innovation with a high degree of design quality. The Red Dot is an award for high quality of design combined with practical innovation.


ROPA Keiler 2 L with overloading bunker - non-stop harvesting

At Potato Europe in Bockerode and for the ROPA in-house demonstration at ROPA Rhineland in Viersen-Boisheim, ROPA presented the new Keiler 2L with overloading bunker in practical application for the first time. The ROPA Keiler 2L is a 2-row trailed potato harvester with a 5.5 t overloading bunker. As well as new details, the Keiler 2L has just like the well-proven Keiler 2 a fully hydraulic drive for optimal adjustment for cleaning. The Keiler 2L operates independently of the PTO speed and thus maintains all cleaning units in the optimal speed range. The result is reduced engine rotational speed of the tractor for low vibration and reduced noise during harvesting as well as low fuel consumption.


ROPA Demonstration 2018 - ROPA Rhineland opening event

Potato and sugar beet harvesting at the same time in a field near the plant premises - this was the premiere at the demonstration and location opening of ROPA Rhineland. More than 5000 enthusiastic visitors experienced the practical demonstration up-close in the field directly adjacent to the 2.5 ha premises of ROPA Rhineland. Several sugar beet harvesters, ROPA Maus 5 and various potato harvesters were working simultaneously in the field. A particular highlight was the plant premiere of the Keiler 2L 2-row potato harvester with 5.5 t overloading bunker. Non-stop harvesting with simultaneous overloading on a trailer driving alongside enables significantly increased performance.


ROPA is a winner in the Automotive Brand Contest

ROPA won an award in the field of connectivity and commercial vehicles in the Automotive Brand Contest at the International Motor Show in Frankfurt (IAA). The international jury cited ROPA as a pioneer and driver of innovation in vehicle design and particularly in agricultural technology. The new ROPA Tiger 6S is the implementation of digitalisation and at the same time the embodiment of Agriculture 4.0. ROPA already offers comprehensive driver assistance systems and is also a leader in partially autonomous sugar beet harvesting. The award once again recognises the leading role of the world market leader in sugar-beet harvesting technology, particularly in the field of digitalisation and networking.


ROPA potato loader (Kartoffelmaus) - Premiere of the prototype in action

ROPA presented a prototype of the ROPA potato loader for loading of starch potatoes live in action for the first time at the Potato Day in Greilsberg, Lower Bavaria.


ROPA presented the new Keiler 2 Classic - Premiere at Potato Europe

ROPA expands its range of two-row potato harvesters with the Keiler II Classic, which will be in series production for the 2020 harvest. After several years of field testing, pilot models are already in operation in parts of Europe for the 2019 season.

The new machine is generally similar to the well-known Keiler 2. The main difference is the separating systems. The Classic has two pintle belts instead of four. The Classic instead has a very spacious sorting stand with room for up to eight persons at the gently rising and generously dimensioned sorting belt with optional haulm conveyor. With the extendable platform in addition to the haulm conveyor the machine makes a convenient workplace for the sorters.



ROPA Tiger 6S - greatly improved efficiency paired with digital networking in the most powerful sugar-beet lifter worldwide from the leader in the market

ROPA adds the Tiger 6S to its range of self-propelled sugar-beet lifters. It will be in series production in time for the 2020 harvest. After several years of field testing, pilot models are already in operation in parts of Europe for the 2019 season. A new generation of extremely high-performance computers forms the telematics centre with predictive analytics, online diagnostics and partially autonomous sugar-beet harvesting. The Tiger 6S now occupies the premium segment in the market and with its advanced computer architecture it is considerably more than the technical and visual continuing development of the current Tiger 6.

ROPA presented two new developments that automatically adjust the working depths of the harvesting attachment on the Tiger 6S.

R-Trim - automatic adjustment of the defoliator height

R-Contour - automatic share depth adjustment of the individual rows at the RR lifting unit

Both systems adapt their working depth to the changing conditions in the beet crop throughout the field.


Agritechnica 2019 - two silver medals for ROPA

This year Agritechnica 2019 successfully closed on November 16 and attracted 450,000 visitors, more than 130,000 of them from abroad, and 2,820 exhibitors. The whole week was dedicated to the challenges and future questions of the industry. ROPA is presenting the company's premium products and the latest innovations in the field of self-propelled sugar beet harvesters, loaders and the Keiler potato harvester at a large booth covering a total area of 1,359 m².

ROPA was proud to win silver medals for innovations for its potato crusher in the potato harvester Keiler 2 and R-Connect monitor in the Tiger 6S.


ROPA haulm topper KS 475

ROPA expands its product range with a 4-row haulm topper designed to prepare the crop for harvesting. The ROPA haulm topper offers an excellent solution in order to minimise or avoid the use of pesticides for haulm control. The potato haulm is chopped safely and efficiently. Thus, the harvesting becomes easier and the skin firmness of the potato is enhanced. The chopped potato haulm is deposited between the ridges. Other advantages of the ROPA haulm topper include a reduced risk of blockage at the lifting unit and increased throughput.


ROPA potato loader Kartoffelmaus 5 - in series

The potato loader Kartoffelmaus 5 has been designed by ROPA on the basis of the sugar beet loader Maus 5. For the first time the prototype of the potato loader was presented on the last Agritechnica. Since summer 2020 two potato loaders have been in operation at two companies: the Südstärke in Sünching (Bavaria) and the Emsland Group in the Kyritz area (Brandenburg). 

The potato loader helps to increase efficiency and profitability of the starch potato logistics. Moreover, farmers can expand the scale of potato cultivation without having to invest in storage capacities at the same time. Positive results have also been shown with the loading of table potatoes, which are processed directly after delivery.