By Ashley Limesand
The John Deere Seeding Group is turning out some of the most sought after planting equipment in the world from its Valley City, N.D., assembly plant.
Workers at the plant can put together just about any piece of equipment — from the brand new 60-foot 1895 No-till Air Drill to the C850 Air Cart — in just 24-36 hours.
The John Deere Seeding Group plant covers 350,000 square feet, and is packed with modern manufacturing technology and systems.
The assembly process begins with welders. They use several rotating fixtures to handle the iron parts and a computer system to guide them step-by-step through the process of each build. A scanning system assures consistency in dimensions and quality.
Parts then move to pant lines. Items calling for the classic John Deere green are suspended from a moving system in the ceiling and sent through a shot blast system which prepares the metal surfaces. Each item is washed, dried and cooled before it heads towards the automated paint system. A system of nozzles adjusts to the shape of the item and oscillate up and down, applying the paint to the metal.
Next, crews with paint guns coat any missed spots before the part travels into a series of ovens to dry the pain. Workers examine the parts after they come out of the ovens to verify that the surface is covered, the paint adhesion is accurate and the thickness of the paint is consistent.
Then parts continue on to assembly lines where they are bolted together and moved around with robotic arms.
Because of the size of the air seeders and carts, some assembly is required at the dealership.
"[The assembly system] is a pretty fine-tuned engine," says Brent Pedersen, manufacturing engineer. "Everything has got to be moved as soon as possible. If you have one stoppage the whole thing seizes."
The factory employs several hundred people from around the region.
Limesand is a writer from Valley City, N.D.