Inside Massey Ferguson’s state-of-the-art 133ac factory which has produced one million tractors

This has always been a Massey Ferguson farm. For generations we have never had another tractor manufacturer here.

We still have a 1953 three cylinder MF 35 combine bought new and a 1970 MF 415 combine.

So I grew up with the brand and for as long as I can remember I have been fascinated by the technology, the design and the manufacturing process

When I received a Massey Ferguson 5S 125 from Cork Farm Machinery in April and saw the advances in machine development I was really excited to see first hand how they develop the technology and make such a quality machine.

I really wanted to take a look inside the place where it was built.

So I got in touch with the Massey Ferguson Visitor Experience team and arranged a trip to

AGCO’s state-of-the-art 54ha (133ac) manufacturing facility in Beauvais, an hour’s train ride from Paris.

More than a million tractors were produced here, and the workforce numbers 1,100.

In the mid-1990s, Massey Ferguson joined the AGCO family, which also includes Fendt, Challenger and Valtra. AGCO – with 24 sites around the world – has invested €250 million over eight years in Beauvais, which has won numerous awards.

Our guide Jean Claude has been working there for 36 years and his passion for tractors still burns at the age of 76.

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Peter and his wife Paula with guide Jean Claude in Beauvais

The French’s insistence on quality of life means the plant operates a seven-hour shift, five days a week and still manages to roll 80 tractors a day.

Our first stop was a 12 meter high computer controlled warehouse with 9,000 part numbers listed, along with 1,000 Finnish made SISU engines in stock at one time.

Engines are finally prepared on site; Three and four cylinder swap blocks allow teams to prep four, six and seven cylinder engines, mount the starters and prime the engines.

Jean Claude stopped us “at the border” and as soon as we crossed the yellow/black line we were at GIMA, a world leader in transmission technology – a joint venture with Claas.

Robotics offers absolute precision, and GIMA has invested heavily in heat treatment technology, using temperatures of up to 960°C, to ensure parts are durable and long-lasting, even under extreme workloads. The most advanced heat treatment now uses helium.

On-site laboratories carry out quality control.

Completed transmissions are then combined with engines and axles to build 99 four-wheel drive tractors. Massey Ferguson has sourced axles from the same company for over 40 years.

The steady stream of completed chassis consists of alternating high and low horsepower as the larger tractors take a little more time to complete chassis.

Quality Control waits again at the end of the line and performs detailed checks to ensure everything is ready for painting.

Here, too, the robotics controls the paint booth, but the human eye checks the quality before the finished painted chassis enters the oven for a 30-minute baking time.

As the production line exits the furnace, teams begin assembling cooling systems, exhaust and finally diesel tanks.

Another department in Beauvais manufactures the diesel tanks for AGCO plants across Europe, while another produces all the cabs that await their corresponding chassis on a catenary.

Two teams of four people can completely assemble a cab including electrics in 5-7 minutes.

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The cab is attached to the chassis

In the final section of the production line, the teams top up with fuel and the engine springs to life as the bonnet is added and what resembles a Formula 1 pit stop is ready for the wheels to be fitted.

No time is wasted because while these are busy on the ground, an inspection pilot sits in the cabin and ensures that all cabin components such as lights, wipers, radio, steering wheel position and seat are working properly.

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Masseys in Beauvais ready for final checks

There is a high level of quality control at every stage of production.

If there is an error, a team leader meeting is called to investigate the root cause of the tractor not being able to continue down the production line.

I witnessed this when a completed 7610 nearing the end of the line showed the tiniest imperfections on the hood finish; A team investigated and documented the issue before a driver stepped in to quarantine the tractor so the imperfection could be addressed.

Three rolling roads await the final part of quality control. Once a tractor enters the Rolling Road, it is secured front and rear with safety chains, and then the operator must ensure the tractor performs a computer-generated list of tasks.

The test can only be canceled for safety reasons and the tractor will not pass until the full list of tasks is completed.

Behind it, a line of Massey Fergusons of all sizes and trim levels await delivery to their new owners.

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Finished Masseys in Beauvais

Orders can be personalised: I spotted an S7716 with its body draped in the French tricolor. 30 of the produced tractors are ready for loading.

As our tour was almost over, it was an opportunity to look into the past and into the future.

Pride of place in the visitor center is a TE20 that was part of Edmund Hillary’s 1958 South Pole Expedition. Massey Ferguson also supported an expedition in 2014 in which a 5610 completed the same Antarctic trek in 17 days.

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A TE20 that was part of Edmund Hillary’s 1958 South Pole Expedition

Then there’s the huge white Next Concept tractor parked in front of the visitor center, giving us a glimpse of what tractor work will be like for years to come: automatic tire pressure monitoring, augmented reality heads-up windshield display, integrated sensors and cameras monitor devices, a wheel-less cab with three-screen operation with telemetry and seamless data transfer to farm management systems.

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The Next Concept tractor features automatic tire pressure monitoring, an augmented reality windscreen display, integrated sensors and cameras to monitor implements

It’s the ultimate in efficiency, and that’s what I took away from the factory tour: Massey Ferguson’s pursuit of production efficiency aims to offer a high specification machine at an affordable price.

Overall, the message I took home for our operation was that I need to focus on efficiency, sustainability and quality of life.

https://www.independent.ie/business/farming/machinery/tractors/inside-massey-fergusons-state-of-the-art-133ac-plant-that-has-produced-a-million-tractors-42055903.html Inside Massey Ferguson’s state-of-the-art 133ac factory which has produced one million tractors

Fry Electronics Team

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