© Lukas Zwiessele

Spreaders: Partner power at 12 volts

Lehner Maschi­nenbau develops and sells powerful spreaders for agri­cul­ture and munic­ipal use. The key feature is that they work with on-board power but are still more powerful than compa­rable agri­cul­tural machinery. The company’s success would be incon­ceiv­able without tuned up indus­trial compo­nents and a strong part­ner­ship.

What do rice farmers in Vietnam, the munic­ipal winter road main­te­nance service in Finland, and a farmer in South Africa have in common? They are all fans of a 40-person oper­a­tion in a picturesque corner of south­west Germany — because their vehi­cles include equip­ment made by Lehner Maschi­nenbau GmbH. The company is a spin-off of Lehner Agrar GmbH, which sells seeds, fertil­izer, and pesti­cides. When, in 1989, agri­cul­ture in the region suffered from a plague of snails, this local company started constructing a 12-volt spreader. Grad­u­ally, spreaders were added for all kinds of purposes and vehicle types, from quad bikes and cars to fire trucks. The prag­matic and powerful solu­tion entered a gap in the market and offered suffi­cient busi­ness to become its own company, and so Lehner Maschi­nenbau GmbH was born.

Robust drive for tough condi­tions

But tech­ni­cally, things did not always go completely smoothly: the motors in the “polar bear” salt spreader, which is now called POLARO, failed one after the other. The supplier at the time could not or would not take care of the problem. “In contrast, ebm-papst’s sales team imme­di­ately took a genuine interest and attended to it,” recalls Managing Director Thomas Renz. Together, Lehner and ebm-papst turned a drive that was actu­ally devel­oped for rela­tively clean indus­trial use into a robust solu­tion for the harshest envi­ron­mental condi­tions in ice, snow, dust, cold, and heat.

Two protec­tive sleeves: A brush is inte­grated into the housing which removes dust and dirt from the centrifugal blower in the VENTO. (Photo | Lukas Zwies­sele)
Thanks to the protec­tive hose, the drive for the POLARO can even operate under­water. (Photo | Lukas Zwies­sele)

The power bolt, which is wrapped in a heat shrink tube, even continues to work reli­ably under water, some­thing that Lehner demon­strated at Agritech­nica, the world’s leading trade fair for agri­cul­tural tech­nology, where the POLARO was oper­ated in an aquarium. The spreaders are now used for salt spreading during winter road main­te­nance as well as for rice fertil­izing in subtrop­ical coun­tries, for example. They have a minimal failure rate in these demanding ambient condi­tions.

Since then, Lehner Maschi­nenbau has been working together with ebm-papst for over 20 years, which has resulted in another favorite among farmers: the VENTO. The pneu­matic hose spreader can be used to effi­ciently spread seed, fertil­izer, gran­ules, grasses, and catch crops.

“It was clear to us that we had to move away from disc spreaders to a pneu­matic solu­tion for this appli­ca­tion.”

Thomas Renz, Managing Director Lehner Maschi­nenbau

“It was clear to us that we had to move away from disc spreaders to a pneu­matic solu­tion for this appli­ca­tion,” explains Renz. This is because, espe­cially when sowing catch crops, the seed sizes are highly vari­able. When ejected onto the field from a rotating plate, the different-sized grains fly over different distances, and are there­fore not distrib­uted evenly. With the VENTO, a powerful centrifugal blower blows the seed into several hoses, ensuring targeted, uniform sowing.

“Based on the perfor­mance data, an indus­trial fan was best suited here,” explains Rein­hard Sommer­reißer, the ebm-papst sales repre­sen­ta­tive respon­sible for Lehner. But there was still a lot to do in terms of making it robust against wind, weather, and dust. “Lehner really tested and tried out a lot of things here to get the indus­trial blower fit for agri­cul­ture. To achieve this, we also adapted some things in its construc­tion.”

This is how the VENTO from Lehner works

The result is a solu­tion that is currently unique on the market: Where the compe­ti­tion offers four to six meters of working width, the VENTO effort­lessly manages up to twelve meters — and all of this with a 12-volt on-board power supply. In addi­tion, the high-perfor­mance blower can be conve­niently regu­lated from 0 to 100 percent from the tractor cab, adapting to the travel speed, for  example.

“Our collab­o­ra­tion has been so successful simply because of the good, trust-based commu­ni­ca­tion over all these years,” empha­sizes Thomas Renz. “When we have an idea, we always find a solu­tion together.  We simply feel at home with ebm-papst.” 

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