To run a profitable business, farmers need strong, reliable and lightweight plows. Using steel provided by Ovako and other suppliers, the Kverneland Group’s factory in Klepp, Norway, is producing plows that meet farmers’ demanding requirements.
With 5,000 plows manufactured annually, Kverneland is the world’s number one plow producer. But the numbers only tell a part of the story. Kverneland has a reputation for producing quality plows based on a tradition of innovation and attention to the needs of professional farmers.
“A farmer’s season is short – there aren’t that many weeks that they can plow. So their plow has to work without fail during that time. It’s about reliability, and our plows are the most reliable plows on the market,” explains Per Henrik Halvorsen, Purchasing Manager, Kverneland Group Operations.
In close cooperation with Ovako, Kverneland has developed boron steel alloys that are both flexible and strong. This means that the alloys are so elastic that they can withstand prolonged wear. Each year, Kverneland buys large quantities of Ovako steel in many different forms, such as bars and tubes of various dimensions.
”Ovako offers a good range of dimensions,” Halvorsen explains. ”It covers a large part of what we need with both flat and round bars. Few other suppliers can do that in wide range.”
Ovako’s products are used in many plow parts, such as the tines of the chisel plow, the turning cylinder in the headstock, the landside and a long steel arm that stabilizes the mouldboard as it cuts through the soil. A large number of these items are delivered to exactly the right dimensions, such as the flat bars for the landside. This means the factory only needs to cut the bars to the right length – significantly less expensive than ordering steel sheets that would require laser cutting and generate a lot of scrap.
According to Kverneland’s Production Director, Jone Edland, the heart of the production facility is in the heat treatments, processes that change the steel's molecular structures and give them the exact right combination of strength and toughness. “Here we forge, form and harden the steel. The plows will be stronger and lighter than the competition and additionally be easy to pull and lift and highly wear resistant. It is very important that the steel is also suitable for welding,” Edland says.
Both Halvorsen and Edland claim the real secret to the quality of the Kverneland plow is due largely to the heat treatments – or, more precisely, the amount of time and temperature at which the boron alloys are subjected to the heat. The exact details of these heat treatment processes are strictly confidential.
"We are reknown on the market for the high performances of our Kverneland plows, their reliability and longivity. This is also reflected on the second hand market where they easily reach the highest prices and satisfy the next users", states Manuel Fleurot, Marketing Manager.
Kverneland's Production Director, Jone Edland
All products undergo a wide range of tests to ensure the plows deliver on their reputation for quality, from material checking of the suppliers’ products and the hardening processes in the production line, to fatigue tests on the components once they are produced. Damage analysis is also carried out if the company receives any complaints from customers.
“We use a shaking machine to simulate the effects of being pulled by a tractor since the highest stresses on agricultural equipment are during transport,” says Erlend Sølvberg, Material Specialist, R&D Department.
“We make sure we get the same stress in the machine as we get in field tests.” But Kverneland’s success is not only its technology and products. It’s also about the relationships with its suppliers, according to Halvorsen.
“Ovako is easy to work with,” Halvorsen says. “It is close to us geographically and its people speak a Scandinavian language. The benefit of this close working relationship is that they can do the theoretical tests and we do the practical tests. Then we compare the results and see what’s the best solution. They are very open to making changes when necessary.” “It’s one of many reasons why Kverneland make plows that last for many years,” adds Edland.
The process at the factory in Klepp
Ovako products (bars and/or tubes) are delivered to the loading dock in Klepp, and then sorted according to the intended plow part. The product is:
- Cut to the length required for the final product.
- Heat treated in a high-temperature furnace (temperature levels and length of time in the furnace are confidential).
- Cooled in different quenching media that give the optimum properties, such as hardness in the steel.
- Ground and painted.
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