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CLAAS crew take a pit stop at Le Mans while on training tour of Europe

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Aidan SmithCountryman
CLAAS has created the world’s most modern combine harvester production facility at its headquarters in Harsewinkel, Germany.
Camera IconCLAAS has created the world’s most modern combine harvester production facility at its headquarters in Harsewinkel, Germany. Credit: CLAAS/CLAAS

CLAAS employees joined in the centenary celebrations of the Le Mans endurance car race in France while on a training and knowledge building trip in Europe.

About 20 Australian and New Zealand CLAAS and Landpower employees attended the two-week trip in June, which trip organiser and CLAAS Australia team manager and product manager Shane Barratt said was important to complement their knowledge and understanding of the German-based company’s manufacturing process and latest agricultural machinery.

Mr Barratt said while in France for a day and a half of training they also attended Le Mans for the driver parade on June 10 and stayed on as guests of CLAAS, which has a marquee at the event, to watch the race the following day.

“We did that and then did a quick tour of Paris,” Mr Barratt said.

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While in Germany they toured a number of CLAAS sites, including its factory headquarters in Harsewinkel, which has been operating since 1936 and where more than 400,000 machines have been built.

CLAAS LEXION 8000 series combine harvesters have been recognised with a prestigious farm machine award.
Camera IconCLAAS LEXION 8000 series combine harvesters have been recognised with a prestigious farm machine award. Credit: CLAAS/CLAAS

Mr Barratt said they toured the Xerion tractors, Jaguar forage harvesters and Lexion combine harvesters, with a day of training on the Torion wheel loader.

They also dropped into Bad Saulgau where forage harvesting machinery and front attachments for the Jaguar forage harvesters are developed, tested and manufactured.

“It was an opportunity to see what kind of effort goes into the machines in the factory, and understanding all the steps of the assembly line and quality control before it comes out the end,” Mr Barratt said.

“Doing the tour complements what they already know and heightens their level of experience and knowledge.”

Mr Barratt, who has been with CLAAS for 21 years and undertaken the tour 15 times, said hopefully the tours could be done yearly but there was nothing set in stone yet.

 The new facility enables up to 30 different models and specifications to be efficiently assembled on the same line at the same time.
Camera Icon The new facility enables up to 30 different models and specifications to be efficiently assembled on the same line at the same time. Credit: CLAAS/CLAAS

CLAAS eastern tractor specialist Howard McDonald took to social media to highlight the trip and said the “incredible opportunities for growth and learning are what make this industry so exciting”.

“The experience was eye-opening and gave me a new-found appreciation for the quality of these machines,” Mr McDonald said.

“Witnessing the majority of the CLAAS tractor line-up being built and sent from (Le Mans) was truly impressive.”

He said while in Germany they spent time in the field with some CLAAS tractors, as well as competitor’s products, that had an implement attached so they could be worked with to understand key qualities such as driver comfort, pulling performance, and build quality.

“This hands-on experience was invaluable, allowing me to gain a deeper understanding of both our product and the competition,” Mr McDonald said.“Throughout the trip (the CLAAS team) provided top-notch training and support, ensuring that we got the most out of the experience.

“I’m excited to take all of the experiences and new knowledge I gained during this trip and apply them in the field, and look forward to sharing this insight with our sales network and helping them understand both our product and the competition’s strengths in the industry.”

No WA CLAAS or Landpower employees were on the trip, but some have attended previous trips.

Mr Barratt said while it was still early days, they hoped to return again next year with another cohort from down under.

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