Trelleborg has been selected by Massey Ferguson as the official partner for its tractor expedition, “Antarctica 2014”, which is currently taking place. The 1,560 miles expedition will see 'Tractor Lady', Manon Ossevoort, drive a MF 5600 tractor to the South Pole across snow and ice with a team of polar specialists.
For the expedition, Trelleborg has developed a special multi-purpose set of complete wheels, both tires and rims, which will enable the MF 5600 tractor to tackle the severe weather conditions of the Antarctic.
Piero Mancinelli, R&D director Agricultural and Forestry Tires at Trelleborg Wheel Systems, commented: “We decided to join Massey Ferguson in this adventure because the demanding conditions of Antarctica require flotation at extremely low pressure, grip and traction as well as reduced fuel consumption. The conditions require the ultimate degree of performance from agricultural tires and rims, taking the level of tire performance to the absolute extreme.
“To cope with diverse ice and snow conditions varying from low to extremely low temperatures, tires need to boost grip through ultra-deflection of the carcass and widening the footprint as much as possible, at very low pressures. This, coupled with being well fixed with zero-slippage on the rim, reduces fuel consumption as well as securing reliability and comfort over the long run. In other words, a "super agricultural" tire and rim was required. As such, we want the performance of our tires on the expedition to prove the great potential of our ultimate technology in even the most severe environments on earth. This will enable us to learn and leverage this know-how for the new generations of farming tires.”
Stringent testing of standard agricultural tires conducted by Trelleborg and Massey Ferguson engineers found that due to the adverse weather conditions and harsh environment of Antarctica, fuel consumption and required traction performances would provide significant challenges. Therefore, a tire with premium flotation, which results in enhanced pressure distribution on the ground and superior traction, was essential to guarantee reduced fuel consumption, higher grip and increased driver comfort and handling.
“With these specific challenges in mind, we turned to our innovative ProgressiveTraction tire which is characterized by a special double lug that operates on the ground at different times, progressively releasing higher traction when and where required. The double lug also provides the tire with better floatation capability at low pressure,” added Mancinelli.
After intense numerical simulations combined with indoor and outdoor testing, Trelleborg engineers opted to adapt the tread pattern of the ProgressiveTraction tire, reducing the height and rounding tread at the shoulder, to make the tire better suited to run on soft ground reflective of that to be experienced in Antarctica. A unique carcass design capable of performing at a pressure as low as 4.2 psi was developed while a special tread shape and surface was implemented to provide the required grip. Trelleborg also developed a special rim profile ensuring a safe bead position to prevent slippage and rim roll-off.
“The enhanced ProgressiveTraction tire fitted on the special Trelleborg rim performed extremely well during final testing conducted in Iceland, exceeding any initial expectation and we are looking forward to seeing the tires in action. Antarctica 2014 promises to be a remarkable journey and we are excited to be part of such a widely anticipated expedition that will push the ProgressiveTraction tire to its limits,” said Mancinelli.
For more information on the tires developed for the expedition, Trelleborg has posted a new video which can be viewed by visiting: www.youtube.com/trelleborgagri