It was exactly 25 years ago that CLAAS launched the Lexion 480, a model that was not only the world’s top-performing combine harvester at the time but also featured an entirely new threshing concept characterized by its performance under all operating conditions.
The patented APS Hybrid System, a combination of the APS threshing unit and the Roto Plus residual grain separation system, was a world first at the 1995 Agritechnica show and recognized for throughput and grain quality as well as multi-crop capability in the combine harvester segment ever since.
Compared with the APS threshing unit of the Mega straw-walker machines, the threshing drum diameter had been increased from 450 mm to 600 mm, and the feeder housing width from 1580 mm to 1700 mm. Two smooth-running axial rotors were used for protective residual grain separation.
During grain threshing with the first Lexion 480 series, this technology-enabled grain throughput rates of more than 35 t/h, a figure which rose to more than 40 t/h with the longer rotors which were fitted from 1996.
Other trend-setting features were the active swivel-action spreaders, which were able to spread the straw across the entire cutting width of the front attachment, and the advanced Vista Cab with a Cebis screen.
In 1998, the Lexion 480 became the first large combine harvester to be equipped with front-axle rubber crawler tracks suitable for high-volume production – the Terra Trac system.
These tracks responded to the need to protect the soil as front attachments were becoming ever wider and heavier – and they did so while keeping the transport width within 3.5 m. Another breakthrough came in 2011 when road travel on crawler tracks at speeds of up to 40 km/h became possible.
As early as 2002, CLAAS was able to celebrate the production of the 10,000th Lexion – a 480 Terra Trac. Just 3 years later, the Lexion 500 series broke the “sound barrier” of 60 t/h grain throughput in wheat.
This new dimension of performance was reinforced by an official Guinness World Record in 2008: never before had anyone managed to harvest 532 t of wheat within 8 hours with a single combine harvester. And in 2011, it was a Lexion 770 Terra Trac that broke this record by threshing a 675 t of wheat within 8 hours.
Into new dimensions with a new generation
2019 saw CLAAS launch the second, newly developed generation of its large combine harvester line-up with four new Lexion lines and the largest grain tank in the market at 18,000 and an offloading rate of up to 180 l/sec.
This new Lexion line-up – including two Machine of the Year 2020 awarded ranges with the APS Synflow Hybrid threshing and separation system. An important factor in this is the Cemos Automatic machine optimization system. This self-learning system continuously optimizes areas such as primary separation, cleaning, secondary separation and engine load.
The Lexion 8900 which has a maximum power output of 790 hp cannot be used in its full capacity in some markets due to their comparatively low yields and limited quantities of straw. In summer 2020, the current flagship model from Harsewinkel, the Lexion 8900 Terra Trac attained peak outputs of well over 100 t/h of wheat at times with an average of more than 94 t/h and grain losses of less than 1%.
The throughput curve hardly declines at all, even late in the evening and at night which is characterized by increasing levels of moisture in both straw and grain. Farmers and contractors appreciate this, along with the multi-crop capability of the Lexion APS Synflow Hybrid. Jan-Hendrik Mohr, who is responsible for the grain harvesting business division on the CLAAS executive board, explains:
“With so many positive characteristics, it is perfectly clear that CLAAS will continue to rely on the APS Synflow Hybrid system in the upper-performance classes in the future. This means that the LEXION top-of-the-range class is better equipped than any other combine harvester to face the diverse requirements of the global market. Satisfied, and therefore loyal, customers all over the world are the best proof of this. However, the pressure of costs and time, as well as expectations regarding comfort, continue to increase; these are the factors that drive our engineers as they work every day on the further development of CLAAS combine harvesters.”
In recent years, CLAAS has also rolled out hybrid threshing technology in mid-range performance segments. Since 2009, for example, the product range has included an APS threshing unit in combination with a single rotor in the Tucano Hybrid. With Lexion product specialist Wes Wortmann at the wheel, the class 8 hybrid machine-harvested a 1,472 t (57,926 dry bushels) in 8 hours, representing an average of more than 180 t/h. Lexion 860 beats the previous record-holding Lexion 760 TT by a comfortable 32 percent. However, CLAAS has never rested on its laurels where records are concerned and its development process continues.