VIDEO: A day in the life of a Deutz 6160C

By: Tom Dickson, Photography by: Andrew Britten, Video by: Andrew Britten

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From the moment a tractor arrives on the dock in Australia it starts a series of processes to ensure it’s in perfect condition when it gets to your farm. Tom Dickson goes behind the scenes at the PFG Derrimut facility to track the delivery of a Deutz-Fahr 616C

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I’ve come to the realisation that my involvement plays a relatively small role in the journey the tractor takes on its way through my front gate.

So I’ve decided to find out where it’s been and what else is involved.

For my benefit the guys at Power Farming Group Australia (PFG) is letting me go behind the scenes to track a Deutz-Fahr 6160C from the point of unloading it at the dock, to the importer then the distributor and finally to my door.

Step one: Packaging

Packaging Stripping The Tractors

Shipment today is all about packaging and how we can efficiently squeeze extremely large stuff into very small spaces.

With the Deutz range anything right up to 210hp (157kW) can be containerised.

So how can such a large tractor fit into a container? The simple answer is it goes through a de-build process to size the tractor down.

Basically a tractor is assembled at the factory including all the oil and lubricants.

Then to get it to the customer, in the case of the Deutz 6160 C it must have a lot of its componentry removed to reduce its height and width so it fits into a standard shipping container.

The guards and side steps are detached to reduce the width then the wheels are taken off and replaced with small steel alternatives.

Even the drawbar is taken off so that the ground clearance is reduced to around 5mm. Finally the suspension, if fitted, is removed which allows the cabin to lower a few more centimetres.

At this point the tractor can be driven into the container with only a few millimetres of clearance at both the top and bottom.

The bits and pieces which have come off are now stacked carefully around the tractor so that no space is wasted.

The operator’s manuals and service books are also packaged up and put in with the tractor.

Shipping the tractors in containers means they can be stacked in multiple layers on the deck of the ship and protected from the harsh environmental impact of ocean travel. This represents the first step in quality and efficiency.

Once the tractor is in a container it’s loaded at its port of departure and shipped to Australia. From the wharf in Australia the container is transported on a truck to the loading dock at one of PFG’s premises in Melbourne, Brisbane or Perth.


Step two: Immigration

Immigration One Of

When the rear doors of the container are flung open and a driver jumps in the tractor it’s too dark inside to really get a decent look.

But as the Deutz 6160 C backs out into the light to make its grand entrance, I just about burst out laughing.

I am sure if tractors had feelings it would be extremely embarrassed by the way it looks at this very minute.

The Deutz appears to be crawling along with its belly dragging on the ground like a timid pup.

And the small steel wheels that may have once been round have flattened out between the spokes to look more like a 50 cent piece.

Clattering along the floor on these oddly shaped wheels gives it the appearance of a vintage lance Bulldog on steel wheels rather than a modern machine from the 21st century.

It’s probably a good thing they are hidden inside a container to avoid the humiliation of being seen in such a state of undress.

Before anything further happens, a bidding report must be filled out.

This requires a technician to cross-check the serial and engine numbers on the tractor with the receival document to make sure the correct tractor has indeed been delivered.

Once it’s been given the all clear it trundles off to the side and a forklift busily goes to work unloading the remaining contents of the container.

The wheels and tyres come out on the first pallet.

The second pallet to emerge has the drawbar, the left and right steps, cabin suspension, beacon lights and all the nuts and bolts and fastening equipment.

A third crate houses the front mudguards and rear guard extensions.

Once all the components are checked and accounted for the tractor and all its parts are moved to the reassembly bay.


Step three: Reassembly

Reassembly Within Minutes Of Its Arrival

Two of PFG’s experienced assemblers Charlie Buttigieg and Alex Veljanoski take over now and busily set about restoring the 6160 C to its former glory.

Veljanoski brings around a forklift and uses it to raise the back end of the tractor.

While he’s doing that Buttigieg uses a second forklift to stand up the rear wheels. Using a rattle gun they remove the steel wheels and replace them with the permanent wheels and tyres within minutes.

The same is repeated for the front. Next the guards go back on then the right and left side steps follow quickly thereafter.

The remaining items consist of a crate full of steel plates, brackets and bars that will reconstruct the drawbar assembly and suspension.

Obviously these two have worked together as a team for a while, because they seem to know exactly what the other is about to do and without even looking they pick out each part.

While one holds it in place the other inserts the bolts and does up the nuts.

The continual clatter of the rattle gun speeds up the process immensely and the whole job of reassembling the tractor takes about two to 2.5 hours.

Coming out of the container it looked like a little 70 or 80hp (52 or 60kW) model but now it has taken on the stance that you would expect from a 160hp (119kW) model.


Step four: First check

Quality 1 PFG Assembler Charlie Buttigieg Puts Every Tractor

All back together and looking like it’s had its pants pulled back up again the Deutz 6160 C is moved on to the work bay area.

At this point it is standard so Buttigieg has to refer back to the dealer’s original order form which is marked with the options the customer requested and therefore details what he needs to add on.

The most common addition to any tractor nowadays is a front end loader.

The first thing to go on is the loader sub frame then all the hydraulic plumbing and finally the actual loader itself.

Like every other step in the process there is virtually no strenuous lifting required because an overhead crane does all the hard work leaving Buttigieg just to carefully guide the pieces into place.

Adding on a front end loader and filling all the hydraulic hoses drains a certain amount of oil from the system so at this point Buttigieg tops it back up to the correct level.

When all the optional accessories have been installed in accordance with the customer order form the tractor moves into the most important phase of its journey called the pre-check.

Basically the service technician has a list of 54 items that he must check and rectify if required.

They go around the tractor ticking off each item as they go.

These include the most basic acts of checking all the fluid levels, both oils and coolants and greasing all the external lubrication points on the machine and any options fitted.

After all the lights are checked, the ignition is turned on to make sure there are no critical warning lamps or error codes showing.

It’s taken for a drive to make sure the transmission functions are working as well as all the features relating to power take-off (PTO), linkage and hydraulics.

Even though the accessories have just been installed the technician rechecks them for correct installation and makes sure the nuts and bolts are tensioned up properly.

Electric mirrors, radios, heating and air-conditioning are all given a run as well.

At this point all the protective plastic coverings are still on the interior and stay on until delivery, but the cabin is checked for general cleanliness and cleaned if required.


Step five: Quality control

Quality 2 With Its Trima Loader Fitted

The tractor is now moved to another area of the complex where it goes into its second stage of quality control or quality check.

Another person takes over at this point because it is believed a second or fresh set of eyes has a better chance of picking up anything that may have been missed in the previous checks.

This technician has a list of 15 checks that are carried out as a back-up just to make sure the loader and other options have been installed correctly and reassembly of the tractor has been done right.

Every measure is taken to avoid being one of those tractors that gets a reputation as being prepared on a Friday night or Monday morning.

Finally the Deutz 6160 C is checked for shipping or storage damage.

Any paintwork that requires a quick touch-up is carried out as well as sticking on the appropriate safety decals that are relevant to Australian Standards.

All the tractors get a thorough clean and detail before they leave the quality control area.

As it’s now ending its time at PFG it’s moved to the dispatch area, a dispatch docket is prepared and sent out to the dealer informing them that their tractor is ready to be picked up.


Step six: Pre-delivery

Predelivery After Going Through Its Final Quality Check

The Deutz 6160 C we’ve been following has been loaded on a low loader semi and while I get a good night’s sleep it’s making its way up the highway to Phillips Farm Machinery at Hamilton, in south-west Victoria.

By the time I get to the dealership in Hamilton the 6160 C has been unloaded and is in the workshop having a four-way bucket fitted and UHF radio installed.

Phillips Farm Machinery head of sales Martin Bailey says by the time the tractors make it to them they are ready for delivery apart from a few extra options such as loader attachments, radios, extra lighting, seat covers and any other little additions the customer might like to include.

"We again top up the hydraulic fluid levels because we have added a few loader attachments that have hydraulic rams and plumbing," Bailey says.

"Sometimes we have to relocate the radio antenna because the guys in the city mount them in under one of the panels, which is fine if you get great reception but out in the country where it’s not so good in places it’s not suitable, so we reposition them on the roof.

"Our aim is to sell a tractor that we never have come back with a warranty issue," he adds.

A technician then carries out what will be the third pre-delivery check which includes items relating to the engine compartment, transmission, electrical, cabin features, fluids and lubricant. Virtually everything that’s covered twice at PFG is repeated again at the dealership.

The second last process is employing the services of a couple of young apprentices to give it a complete and thorough detail including polishing the panels and cleaning the windows.

Finally when payment has been approved, the tractor is back on the truck for its final trip to an excited customer.

The story doesn’t, however, end here because we are about to head out to a nearby property where the brand new Deutz-Fahr 6160 C was delivered three weeks ago for a full tractor review.


Find Deutz-Fahr tractors for sale



Read Tom's full review on the Deutz-Fahr 6160C online next week and all the details in issue 25 of New Farm Machinery magazine out August 17.

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Changing wheels and tyres of the Deutz-Fahr 616C One of the first jobs when the tractor arrives at PFG is to remove and replace the steel wheels with proper wheels and tyres Changing wheels and tyres of the Deutz-Fahr 616C
Deutz-Fahr 616C Phillips Farm Machinery sale department head Martin Bailey says he takes personal pride knowing every tractor that goes through their dealership receives a thorough quality inspection and detail by their experienced staff Deutz-Fahr 616C
Packaging Stripping the tractors Caption: Stripping the tractors down to a bare minimum allows for a neat and very snug fit into a shipping container Packaging Stripping the tractors
Deutz 6160C Predelivery After going through its final quality check After going through its final quality check and clean this Deutz is loaded onto the back of the Phillips Farm Machinery delivery truck and on its way to another excited customer Deutz 6160C Predelivery After going through its final quality check
Quality 1 PFG assembler Charlie Buttigieg puts every tractor PFG assembler Charlie Buttigieg puts every tractor through a stringent quality control check before they leave the workshop Quality 1 PFG assembler Charlie Buttigieg puts every tractor
Quality 2 With its Trima loader fitted With its Trima loader fitted up PFG product manager Anthony Darveniza says it’s now ready to go through its pre-delivery checks Quality 2 With its Trima loader fitted
Reassembly Within minutes of its arrival Within minutes of its arrival at PFG work begins ant getting all the removed items reinstalled Reassembly Within minutes of its arrival

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