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CLAAS Celebrates Half a Million Combine Harvesters

Harsewinkel/Omaha, June 13, 2024 — CLAAS is celebrating half a million combine harvesters built since 1936 – and is producing several anniversary machines from the LEXION, TRION, EVION and DOMINATOR lines at three production facilities on three continents. Two anniversary machines (LEXION combines) will roll off the production line in Omaha Nebraska, bound for farms in the US and Canada.

These specially badged machines will be on display at trade shows, field days and demonstrations in the coming weeks and months.

European pioneer of combine harvester production

CLAAS has been one of the key pacesetters in combine harvester development for many decades. From 1936 onwards, the Harsewinkel, Germany-based family company produced grain harvesting equipment in Europe starting with a machine known as a mowing-threshing-binder, or M.D.B. for short. In 1946 CLAAS took a big step forward with the SUPER series, which was much more refined than its predecessor. As the series evolved, it was available with add-on engines starting in 1953 and with a hydraulic cutting unit drive starting in 1958, under its the new moniker SUPER AUTOMATIC. More than 60,000 copies of the SUPER were marketed worldwide, even finding buyers in Canada and Uruguay.

In 1953, the family company successfully entered the self-propelled combine harvester segment with the HERCULES, which was later renamed SF. In 1961, the MATADOR GIGANT set new standards with a cutting bar width of up to 6 m. Other industry-defining milestones of the 1960s included well-known names such as SENATOR, COMET, COSMOS, CORSAR, MERCATOR and COMPACT.

In 1972, the DOMINATOR series opened a new era that has lasted more than 50 years to this day. CLAAS consolidated its status as the European market leader, particularly with the DOMINATOR 6 and DOMINATOR 8 series, and introduced innovations such as 3D cleaning, the AUTO CONTOUR cutting unit guidance and the MEGA threshing unit. The DOMINATOR CS with cylinder separation was launched in 1981. Rebadged the COMMANDOR CS in 1986, the DOMINATOR CS and COMMANDOR CS were among the most powerful combine harvesters in the world at the time and were first delivered with rubber tracks in 1987.

At Agritechnica 1995, the LEXION 480 with groundbreaking APS hybrid technology was not only the highlight of the trade show, but also a game changer in terms of performance, comfort and groundbreaking electronic applications for the emerging precision farming era. Since 1997, the ground-protecting TERRA TRAC chassis technology on the LEXION combine has been a defining characteristic yet to be equaled.

A huge step in the area of machine intelligence followed in 2013 with the introduction of the CLAAS Electronic Machine Optimization System (CEMOS). CLAAS has since become a leader in the field of combine harvester automation, which has been underpinned by numerous international awards. CEMOS continues to be developed and expanded to include additional processes and units in combine harvesters and cutting units.

The latest members of the CLAAS combine harvester family are the TRION and EVION series, introduced in 2021 and 2023. Together with the LEXION, they offer a unique range of products and equipment from the 205 HP five-shaker to the 790 HP flagship LEXION 8900 TERRA TRAC with APS SYNFLOW HYBRID. All three series enable a further increase in threshing efficiency thanks to the dynamic performance management DYNAMIC POWER and expanded CEMOS functions.

More than 500,000 Success Stories:

A strong foundation of experience and future readiness

With around 100,000 and 75,000 units respectively, DOMINATOR and LEXION account for the largest share of the 500,000 CLAAS combine harvesters built to date. SUPER and SUPER AUTOMATIC (approx. 65,000 units) as well as EUROPA and COLUMBUS (together approx. 60,000 combine harvesters) and the TUCANO (approx. 35,000 units) also contributed significant numbers to the global success of the CLAAS combine harvesters. Series built in smaller numbers, such as the COMMANDOR TERRA TRAC, were also drivers of progress and have had a significant impact on the genetics of today’s CLAAS combine harvesters.

A colorful start in North America

Over the years, many of combines made their way onto US and Canadian farms under different names and in different colors. From 1960-1970, CLAAS was the OEM responsible for the production of the blue FORD 622 and 642 combines available for sale throughout North America. In 1989, CLAAS signed an agreement with Massey Ferguson where the DOMINATOR 98 and 108 where available in Massey Ferguson red and known as the MF 8450 and 8460. In 1997, CLAAS and Caterpillar formed a joint venture to manufacture and retail LEXION combine harvesters together. While the LEXION name was retained, it was the Caterpillar brand that dominated the machine with the Caterpillar (and later, CAT) name on the side and Caterpillar yellow and black paint.

International production network

Since 1992, CLAAS combine harvesters have no longer been manufactured exclusively at the Harsewinkel, Germany headquarters. That year, the first CLAAS CROP TIGER rolled off the assembly line in India, of which more than 10,000 units were produced. Since 2001, CLAAS has also been producing LEXION hybrid combine harvesters for the North American market in Omaha, Nebraska. Shortly after opening as a joint venture between CLAAS and Caterpillar, CAT exited the market and CLAAS took full ownership of the production facilities. North American LEXION combines – many of which continued to be sold through Caterpillar dealers – retained the CAT yellow and black color scheme until 2019.

As another location in the combine harvester competence network, Törökszentmiklós in the south of Hungary has been producing cutters and corn pickers for CLAAS combine harvesters since 1997. In October 2021, the 100,000th cutting unit for CLAAS was celebrated here.

Automation, Assistance and data management:

From the Throughput Control Device to CEMOS and CLAAS connect

The fact that threshing performance has increased exponentially since the first European combine harvester, the MDB, is not only due to further developments in hardware and increased engine performance. Particularly in the last 25 years, automation has become an increasingly important part of further optimization in the areas of efficiency, productivity and work results. With the throughput control device, CLAAS began integrating electronic operating aids into combine harvesters in 1974. CEMOS technology, which was introduced in 2013 and has since won several awards at international trade shows such as Agritechnica and SIMA, has proven to be a real game changer. To this day, it has been continuously refined to include further processes in the combine harvester and on the cutting unit, enabling optimal utilization of the machine.

CLAAS was also one of the pioneers in precision farming applications. Starting in 1991, yield data and GPS position data could be linked with one another. In 1996, the LEXION combine added yield mapping via AGROCOM MAP. Telemetry-based fleet management via Combine Online saw its way onto the scene in 1998. In 2005, LEXION combine harvesters were the first CLAAS products to be equipped with groundbreaking TELEMATICS. Starting in October 2024, farmers can choose to utilize digital networking of CLAAS combine harvesters with the rest of the fleet, operations management and the CLAAS service and sales partner will take place in the new CLAAS connect, opening a new chapter in the area of digital machine and farm management.

More than a machine: The CLAAS Principle

From the first combine harvester in 1936 until today, CLAAS has provided its customers with comprehensive support. CLAAS customers expect maximum performance and productivity through leading technology and optimal support. With user-friendly controls, groundbreaking driver assistance, and close networking with CLAAS service partners, not only is maximum operational performance achieved, but customers can count on that type of performance for a long while.

Modern driving assistance systems are just as important today as CLAAS MAXI CARE maintenance contracts. And thanks to the wide range of headers and easy crop change-over, CLAAS combine harvesters are optimally equipped for every application. When harvesting windows are tight, speed, versatility and variability are required – as well as the highest level of reliability.

These characteristics are united in all CLAAS combine harvesters and have been so for 500,000 success stories. It is this experience from almost 90 years of combine harvester production that makes “Made by CLAAS” a promise.

Anniversary machines for demonstrations and trade shows

In order to highlight CLAAS’s global combine harvester production network and to allow all locations to participate equally in the anniversary, several anniversary machines have been and are being built with a special look. The LEXION, TRION, EVION and DOMINATOR combines will be on display at various national and international trade shows as well as at field days and in demo use in the coming weeks and months. The design is a homage to the CLAAS combine harvester product history: The silver metallic color represents the beginnings of CLAAS combine harvester production up to 1968, the seed green metallic represents the well-known CLAAS color scheme introduced in 1978 with the DOMINATOR. Knotting pattern in the CLAAS letters on both sides of the anniversary machines reference the old CLAAS shape logo with the CLAAS knotter hook – the first CLAAS patent from 1913.

“500,000 CLAAS Success Stories – this motto combines several important messages and statements for CLAAS,” explains Jan-Hendrik Mohr, CLAAS CEO. “First: the global roll-out of the anniversary machines. Second: Our international competence and production network. And thirdly, we are underlining the international success of CLAAS combine harvesters since production began in 1936.”

Customers can participate in the anniversary for the next harvest season with a Sales Edition, which, in addition to certain equipment features, is characterized by decals on the side panels. All CLAAS combine harvesters from the 2025 product year will also receive a sticker on the cabin door.

The motto: 500,000 – More than a machine. “A CLAAS combine harvester is actually much more than its machine,” continues Mohr. “Because behind every EVION, TRION, LEXION and DOMINATOR there is a powerful sales organization, highly professional service, fast and reliable spare parts supply and much more. And last but not least, international used machine marketing, which, like the overall performance, reliability and longevity of our combine harvesters, is a guarantee for high used machine prices.”

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