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.
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.”