December 11, 2016 Colby Sproat
Tough Tests Prove Fenix III is Simple, Precise and Reliable
Harvest had just begun in South Eastern Saskatchewan when I packed my bags for a trip to Sweden to learn more about the new Fenix III Seed Meter. Trips to Sweden are bittersweet because I would like to see more of the country, but the timing of my trips always seems to coincide with seeding and harvest at home. Sticking around to see Sweden’s beauty and culture never seems to pencil in. On this trip, with harvest ramping up at home, I had a specific mission: learn as much as possible about the Fenix III Meter in two days at Väderstad.
Fenix III Concept Born Many Years Ago
The rental company assigned me a Mercedes Benz this trip, which made the drive to Väderstad a little quicker than it should have been. Upon arrival, I met Ola Bystrom who broke down the history of the Fenix III, from concept to current. It was immediately clear to me that Fenix III wasn’t a bandaid solution thrown together to alleviate issues Seed Hawk had with our meter in the spring of 2016. This concept was born many years ago. Significant time, effort and engineering have gone into this development.
Fenix III is the next progression in the Fenix meter family. A large motor, more robust components and larger capacity are just a few of the features of the new metering system. Of course, I had been briefed on the selling features before I left Canada, but what I really wanted to see was how they held up under testing. I wasn’t disappointed. The test facilities, machines and technology Väderstad has available are phenomenal.
Fenix III Stands Up to Tough Testing
The first test I witnessed was a meter housing longevity test. This test was created to ensure the housing component is robust enough to last beyond the expected life of the machine. Väderstad is fortunate enough to sell agricultural equipment all over the world and, as such, they build their machines and components to be rugged enough for the worst conditions in those markets. A Väderstad machine should operate the same on a hot seeding day in Australia as it does in near freezing temperatures on a seeding day in Canada. So when Väderstad begins a component longevity test, they source the most abrasive fertilizers they can find to create a worst-case scenario situation.
In this case, they were working with a product from the UK called K25 that is somewhat similar to potash, but with less uniformity in the size of granules.
They had rigged up a test unit inside a sealed shipping container that would continuously loop this K25 fertilizer through a single Fenix III Seed Meter housing with the ultimate goal being a continuous 35 hours of metering this exceptionally abrasive fertilizer. Of course, there were pre-planned intervals to observe wear, note any abnormalities, and replace the fertilizer with new stock. The interesting part of this test is that it was rigged up with a computer to log and record all operational information over the 35 hours: average amperage, amperage spikes, volts, resistance, etc.
Ultimately, the trial served to test two functions: housing wear and meter performance. I won’t say they got it right on the first try! I saw seven or eight prototype housings of various compositions that did not pass the test. It was reassuring to see the progression of thought that led to eventually what would become the production design.
Substantial Investment in Testing Pays Off
A number of tests were already complete when I arrived, so I didn’t get to see them in person. These included: temperature stress tests to ensure proper operation in a variety of climates, operational shake tests to simulate 10 years worth of loaded travel at road speeds; and meter loading tests measuring start up amperage on motors after simulating product being packed into meter rollers during infield operation.
I did get to witness the most important test for a metering system before I left- actual metering of a product at specific RPM, rates, etc. Väderstad had recently redone an old test facility solely for the purpose of testing the Fenix III metering system on a variety of seeds and fertilizer. Again, the test rig was set up with a plethora of recording devices to monitor and record RPM, amperage draw, pressures, etc. The investment Väderstad makes to ensure their products work as they should in the field is impressive.
Looking Forward to Seeding With Fenix III at Home
I left Sweden too soon after I arrived, but with strong confidence that Fenix III meters are going to work exactly as advertised, They’re precise, reliable and simple. As a Seed Hawk employee and a Seed Hawk Seeding System customer, I can say I am genuinely looking forward to seeding with this new technology this spring!
See the tough test results for yourself: