The return on investment for any implement depends on how it’s used on your farm. For example, putting a snowplow on a chore tractor increases its value to your farm.
That was the thinking at SnowEx when they began developing their new Automatixx attachment kit for tractors in the 30 to 50 horsepower range. Rather than let those units sit idle through the winter, SnowEx figured the weight, power and maneuvreability of these tractors make them ideal for pushing snow.
The Automatixx forms an interface between the snowplow and a tractor or the snowplow and a pickup. It allows the operator to quickly switch the plow back and forth between the 4×4 pickup truck and the mechanical front wheel drive tractor, says Michael Frank, leader of the Automatixx project at SnowEx.
“The kit lets you remove the plow from the tractor and hook up your front-end loader in a matter of minutes. If there’s still more plowing to be done, an Automatixx kit on your pickup lets you put the same plow onto that vehicle, also in just a matter of minutes,” says Frank.
“SnowEx has manufactured truck plows for many decades under the name of Western and Fisher, but we saw there was a growing demand for non-truck snowplows. And we saw how many tractors in that category were underutilized. These tractors have an incredible amount of available power to push things. The cab design on all of them provides tremendous visibility, far better than from a pickup. It’s the optimal snow-moving machine.”
SnowEx didn’t just design a new hookup system. They also developed three new snowplows to take full advantage of the tractor’s capabilities. Frank says SnowEx has developed a lot of snowplow technology over the years, particularly with their Power Plow or Winged Plow.
The Straight Blade is 31 inches tall and designed for rolling heavy snow farther than most other plows allow. These conventional plows have six vertical ribs, two angled power ribs and a quad design that provides added torsional strength to prevent blade twisting.
The HDV V-plows are built with 16-gauge flared moldboards reinforced by two robust angled power ribs. The have double-acting angle cylinders, trip-edge protection, adjustable centre-cutting edges and responsive direct lift. V-plows are available in either powder-coated steel or rust-resistant stainless steel.
The winged plows provide maximum efficiency by allowing the operator to adjust the wings for scooping or wind-rowing snow. The 8100PP Power Plow model offers the versatility to expand plow width by moving the wings outward for a wide pass, or increase capacity by angling the wings forward to form a bucket to match plowing conditions. Speedwing models include intuitive mechanical wings that automatically adjust from scoop mode to wind-row position as you angle the plow.
“The Power Plow looks like a straight blade, but it’s not. It’s eight feet wide with a wing at each side. At a push of a button, the wings expand outward, and even cup forward to carry more snow. It moves 30 percent more snow than a conventional straight blade.
Each Automatixx mounting kit lists for US$1,153.
“So if you already have one or two SnowEx plows, all you need to buy is an Automatixx for each vehicle you want to use for plowing. If you have a light snowfall, maybe you’ll hookup to your pickup. If it’s a really heavy snow, maybe you’ll decide to hookup to the tractor. It’s a good way to extract more work from that tractor.”
Frank says the Automatixx interface on the tractor can be removed in minutes so the operator can put the loader arms back on the tractor. A removable push beam facilitates this simple switch. The beam securely attaches to the mounting plate with three one-inch clevis pins. Most of the Automatixx remains on the tractor, but out of the way of the loader. He says that if the operator is running something like a 3000 series John Deere, the switch to loader arms takes place quickly.
The plows are made of steel as standard equipment, or optional stainless steel. Automatixx is focused on compact tractors in the 30-to-50 hp range. Depending on which plow and options, list prices range from US$6,000 to US$10,000.