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.

(download video in the media centre)

Cabin & operation

Height-adjustable cabin for the best all-round vision with touch terminal

The R-Cab cabin provides the machine operator with a first-class workplace and an unsurpassed all-round view. Wipers on all side windows and the door provide a clear view even in the rain. A pleasant and gorgeous interior of the cabin in combination with excellent sound insulation guarantee most comfortable operation. Extremely powerful fully LED working lights turn night into day.

Terminal

ROPA combines under the name R-Concept its intuitive operating philosophy. A large 12.1 inch glass touch screen with Wi-Fi interface performs as an information and command centre of the machine. From here the operator monitors the entire machine, receives information about operating conditions and performance data, adjusts cleaning intensity and, thus, working results of the machine.

Operation

The operation is performed dually, either by fingertip on the touch screen or with turning and pressing the rotate buttons "R-Select" and "R-Direct", which are situated in the ergonomically perfect position at the control panel near the handle of the multifunctional joystick (with integrated mini joystick). The thin control panel at the operator’s place suggests numerous possible adjustments for the psychologically optimum and comfortable seating position and at the same time increased visibility and heating of comfortable air seat as series. Premium class workplace.

Further details

Thanks to the scale with automatic zeroing, transport vehicles can be optimally loaded without exceeding the legal limits. User-friendly control menus for interval windscreen wipers, lighting and water spray system, seat and park heating, etc. are all part of the comprehensive package.

Pickup system

8 m wide pickup system for gentle pickup and flexible cleaning adjustment

ROPA has developed an 8-metre wide pickup system. Pickup fingers work up to a depth of 5 cm and gently lift the potatoes. The tubers are transported by the conveyor chains over a comb roller onto the conveyor rollers. Totally, 8 cleaning rollers ensure gentle and efficient soil and haulm removal. Depending on the level of cleaning required, its intensity can be adjusted from the operator cabin. After pickup, the tubers are transported to the infeed conveyor, which is constructed as a sieve chain. The infeed conveyor transfers potatoes through the machine into the cleaning trough in front of the truck conveyor.

Engine & hydraulics

Mercedes-Benz engine with 354 hp

The extremely economical Mercedes Benz OM936 engine of 260 kW / 354 hp with 7.7 l volume capacity, 2-stage turbocharging, 1,400 Nm max. torque at 1,200 rpm (exhaust gas category 4 Final with AdBlue and SCR-Cat) is integrated in the most efficient drive concept. It is automatically driven at reduced engine rpm during loading, while at the same time preserving enough power for extreme conditions.

Efficient hydraulics enables rotational speed reduction

The hydraulic system with optimised gear/revolution transmission provides efficient power transfer. It combines high throughput with very low fuel consumption at very quiet 1,200 loading rpm. Powerful load-sensing hydraulic system ensures the highest possible hydraulic fluid capacity and a prompt response of the entire operating hydraulics even at idling speed.

Counterweight arm - optimal balance

The counterweight arm, made of special 700 fine grain steel, contributes to the impressive performance of the Maus during loading whilst maintaining utmost machine stability. The counterweight arm is up to 9 m long and 4 m high and can be swung out together with the fuel tank, which serves as a counterweight to the truck conveyor, thus ensuring optimal balancing of the machine even at more than 15 m overloading width. The optional scale is integrated in the truck conveyor articulation part. All the truck conveyor side walls are made of high-strength PU plates, which can be turned in four directions.

Compact on the road

Preparation without leaving the cabin

For road drive the complete Maus folds in automatically to a road width of 3 m and a total length of only 14.97 m with just one operating element in the cabin - unique between all the loaders! The wheel base of 5.5 m combined with three hydraulically sprung additional axles guarantees safe handling of the loader while maintaining the best driving comfort.

Machine construction in perfection

The main frame consists of laser-welded and angled profile tubes of 700 fine grained steel and offers very high stability. All components are functional, transparent and maintenance-friendly. The various detailed solutions, e.g. the automatic folding/unfolding mechanism, video-system at the terminal with 2 cameras in series (4 cameras optionally), reversible and swung up cooling fan, fuel filter monitoring etc. contribute to the highest possible performance at the lowest maintenance needs. Electronic data recording, fuel consumption gauging, air-conditioning, park heating, rear view camera and central lubricating system are part of very comprehensive standard equipment of the ROPA potato loader.

Pile storage

Concept of pile storage of starch and processing potatoes

After lifting, the potatoes are loaded directly from the bunker into a 7.5-metre-wide pile at the edge of the field. The ground should be level and have no deep ruts. When laying out a pile, the harvester must be moved at an angle to the pile in order to use its full width. In the case of non-stop harvesting with overloading bunker, the pile is created by unloading the trailers at the back of the pile.

(download video in the media centre)

Soil adhering to the tubers dries off during storage and can be additionally cleaned off when loaded by the potato loader. The cleaning effect of the potato loader can be further improved by previously covering the pile with non-woven fabric, a particular advantage for potato piles with a high soil content.

Besides soil, the cleaning rollers in the pickup system and the 10-part pinch roller cleaner separate the most of stems and haulm. The truck conveyor, with up to 15 m overloading width, loads potatoes onto the transport vehicles. Thanks to the integrated scale system, transport vehicles can be optimally loaded without exceeding the legal limits.

Emsland-Stärke GmbH

Interview with Holger Hanke, Emsland-Stärke GmbH

Holger Hanke, employee of Emsland-Stärke GmbH, responsible for raw material coordination at the Golßen, Kyritz and Hagenau plants, reports on his experiences with the ROPA potato loader.

The ROPA potato loader is already operating at Emsland-Stärke for the second year. The reason of it is to show the farmers that that the company can significantly reduce logistics costs thanks to the potato loader. The starch factory is becoming much more efficient, thus proving to farmers that potato cultivation is still profitable.

Südstärke GmbH

Interview with Martin Krinner, Managing Director of MR Straubing-Bogen

ROPA potato loader at Südstärke GmbH in Sünching. Loading and transportation is organised by MR Straubing-Bogen. In the interview, Managing Director Martin Krinner briefly introduces the system of potato loading with the ROPA loader at Südstärke GmbH.

Article published in the Bavarian Agricultural Weekly