Bale clamp and mole plough show Rata's diversity

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Listening to user feedback helps Rata Equipment develop attachments that help ensure its products keep on meeting the needs of farmers

Based in New Zealand but becoming a popular brand in Australia, Rata Equipment offers a wide range of products for farmers to work smarter and get the job done.

The family-owned company is the leading manufacturer of tractor and telehandler attachments in its homeland.

It is well known for ‘going the extra mile’ when designing a product and for its simple but clever and effective designs.

Two very different Rata products help showcase this trait – a bale clamp and a mole plough.

Smart bale clamp design

Bale clamps have become something of a commodity in the attachments market.

Not content to be "just another clamp on the market", Rata has improved its product so it is now New Zealand’s most popular bale handler among farmers, contractors and major operators.

One example of Rata’s use of smart design is in its decision to adopt farmer and contractor feedback several years ago by increasing the diameter of the clamp’s pipe hands to help it handle increasingly denser bales.

"Bales are weighing more, which puts more stress on the bale wrap when you’re handling it with handlers," Rata’s Australian representative Sam Searle says.

"You’ve got the same amount of surface area now trying to hold close to a tonne, whereas it was only holding about 600kg in past decades. In response to that, we increased the diameter of the pipe hands to increase the surface area accordingly."


The smart bale clamp’s diameter was increased

This seemingly small change means there is now more surface area in contact with the bale wrap, which helps to prevent wrap stretching and tearing.

Rata says this is a common problem with other bale grabs that have lower surface contact areas and which have not changed to suit with advances in high density baling technology.

A heavy-duty design is required to ensure Rata’s clamp can handle the demands of big bales, both in size, weight and number.

Heavy-duty steel plate, extensive gusseting, and high-tensile large 35mm machine pins supported by bushes in the frame help add further strength and reliability.

To keep the clamp running smoothly, there are easily accessed grease points on the equaliser bars, pivot points and hydraulic rams.

The equaliser bars are another important feature of the Rata clamp, Rata explains.

"An equaliser bar ensures hand movements are synchronised with each other and prevents independent hand movement," Searle says.

"Bale clamps without equalisers, or even spring equalisers, are prone to independent hand movement and a loss of handling pressure and grip when in transport. This can often lead to dropped bales, which are damaged bales."

Rata has configured its two middle bars to provide the safest handling method possible.

"Anyone who handles wrapped bales would know that it tends to ‘puff’ in the middle when you grab it," Searle says.

"The middle two bars are aligned further out than the upper and lower bars to give allowance for the puff when you are handling bales and not cause rips, tears or other deformations in the bales.

"Along with the higher diameter bar and the alignment of the middle bars being further out, we’ve gone to great lengths to ensure the overall hand profile itself remains as narrow as possible to ensure you can stack bales tightly and get between bales easily without causing rips or tears."

Rata has also included vertical nudge bars as a form of rear bale support, to provide another point of contact with the bale.

Rata says rear bale support should be considered with as much importance as the hands themselves, and the vertical nudge bar design was based on feedback that suggested alternatives such as horizontal bars and rear backing plates could cause the bales to become torn or squashed.

"The way we’ve positioned the vertical nudge bars and the distance from the back frame and where it makes contact to the bale driving in is the optimum distance to close the hands for maximum grip on your wrapped bales," Searle says.

"Simply drive up to the bale and, once the nudge bars make contact with the bale, the hands are now optimally positioned for maximum contact."


The leading edge of Rata mole ploughs is wear resistant

Smart mole plough design

The types of products needed by farmers change over time and Rata’s mole plough is a good example of that.

"In New Zealand, they are used to drain surplus groundwater out of paddocks in regions that get a lot of moisture through the winter," Searle explains.

"A few years ago, you wouldn’t have thought farmers would be trying to get rid of moisture from the paddocks here in Australia, but with a very wet winter and summer in a lot of parts of the country a lot of paddocks have become waterlogged and landowners are looking for effective means to drain some of the groundwater from the upper soil layers."

Mole ploughs work by cutting a hollow drainage channel beneath the soil surface, allowing excess water that has accumulated at surface level to drain from a paddock.

This may seem like a simple task for any machine to perform, but Rata’s offering includes a smart design feature to do the best job, such as a blade design that removes the need for pasture pre-cutters, getting the job done quicker and reducing the wear on parts.

The mole drain is created by a 75mm cast and hardened plug, which has the ability to revolve and float. This ensures even wearing and allows it to follow natural contours of the ground.

In keeping with Rata’s heavy-duty approach, the leading edge of its mole plough has high wear resistance, even in abrasive soils.

The bale clamp and mole plough are two simple products, but with smart design features to give farmers and contractors the edge they need to get the job done.

For more information visit: www.rataequipment.com


A single mole plough, used for water drainage

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