Sharpen up

Keeping disks, coulters, and wavy blades sharp enough to cut through soil and crop residue with ease is an uphill battle for farmers. A new patented device from Case IH – the Robo-Sharpener – offers a solution.

“It's the world's first manually supervised field-service robot for sharpening wavy tillage blades on the Case IH True-Tandem 330 Turbo,” says Rob Zemenchik, sales and marketing manager for Case IH.

When the company introduced the True-Tandem 330 Turbo four years ago, its field specialists quickly realized that sharpening the wavy blades could extend the implement's value to customers. But there was no tool that would do this.

“Sharpening dull wavy blades was impossible,” notes Zemenchik. “Farmers had to replace them.”

Besides wavy blades, Case IH is testing the device for sharpening standard concavity disk blades. “At $61 per blade to replace and about $8 to $10 to sharpen, you can see the advantage,” he says.

How it works
The Robo-Sharpener is mounted to the unit and equipped with a trolley system that allows it to roll along a rail from blade to blade as the operator supervises.

“A driver rolls the row (also called a gang) of blades at a predetermined speed, usually eight to 10 at a time. Simultaneously, a grinding wheel is mounted in contact with one of the blades and is allowed to swing like a pendulum to intercept the crests and valleys of the wavy blade. Each blade on the gang is sharpened one after the other,” Zemenchik says.

When one gang is done, the operator moves on to the next.

“There are between 80 and 140 blades on a machine, so the process takes between four and eight hours on average, depending on initial dullness,” says Zemenchik. “The beauty of the Robo-Sharpener is that it is all mounted to the farm implement. It doesn't matter if the ground is rough or gravel.”

That means sharpening can take place in the field or back at the farm shop.

But the advantages don't stop there. “Sharp blades enhance nutrient cycling of phosphorus and potassium in crop residues,” he says. “And tire damage is reduced because sharp blades help manage root crowns from stiff cornstalks.”

If you're concerned resharpening will reduce the quality of blades, Zemenchik says don't be worried. Case has tested nearly 2,000 blades and the durability stays the same as a new blade edge.

“The key is to use ONLY the approved grinding stone,” he says. “This is a special application. Users must NOT assume any other grinding wheel will be good enough because they will be wrong.”

The Robo-Sharpener is available through your local Case IH dealer and lists for $4,600.

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