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National conference on Wear in Agricultural Implements and Machinery.

A two-day national conference on "Wear in Agricultural Implements and Machinery: Design, Materials, Process & Performance" was held on 8-9 June at College of Engineering, Pune campus. The conference was jointly organized by IIM Pune chapter, Department of Metallurgy and Materials Science, College of Engineering Pune and Farm Implement & Machinery, Dr. Annasaheb Shinde College of Agriculture Engineering & Technology, MPKV Rahuri, Ahmednagar.

It has been realized, although, there are dedicated conferences and sessions around Wear of engineering parts and mitigation. There is hardly any focused discussion around wear of agriculture machineries &implements where the end customer is the farmer. In fact, agriculture machineries &implements experience one of the harshest abrasive wear environments from soil, crops and crop residue. The implement sector in India is unorganized and lacks an ecosystem for joint technology development related to design and materials which fits our agriculture practice. The purpose of this conference was to bring together multiple stake holders,in the areas of Agriculture machineries/implements such as customer support, academia, steel mills, tractor manufacturer, implement manufacturers and coaters/ heat treaters, to discuss on current state, challenges, step forwards and finally to create an ecosystem for larger and sustaining interest of the stake holders. The major sponsors for this conference were John Deere India Pvt. Ltd.(gold sponsor) and SMT (Silver sponsor). The conference was convened by Dr. Satyam Sahay, John Deere India Pvt. Ltd. and Chairman IIM Pune chapter, Prof. T. Bastewad, MPKV Rahuri and Dr. Goutam Mohapatra, John Deere India Pvt. Ltd. and Dr.N.B.Dhokey, Coordinator of Conference. The two days conference was attended by 100+ delegates, faculty members and students. Dr. C. R. Mehta, Project Coordinator, Central Institute of Agricultural Engineering &All India Coordinated Research Project on Farm Implements and Machinery, was the chief guest and key note speaker of this conference.Invited talks covered various aspects of agriculture machinery and implement wear.The multiple invited talks covered topics around customer perspective and requirements on agriculture implements, design of machineries and implements for land preparation, crops harvesting, materials selection &usage, wear life enhancement strategies such as coatings & heat treatments and understanding wear mechanisms&modeling.There was a dedicated poster session on the second day of the conference particularly for engineering students around Pune to showcase their research in wear and agriculture.A Q&A session was dedicated to discusson challenges and opportunities in Agriculture machinery &implements technology development. Some of the highlights are: 1. bridging the gap between academia and implement manufacturer, 2.lack of strong collaboration between agriculture university and metallurgy departments at other universities, 3. lack of specialized metallurgy professor in agriculture universitiesto teach students and 4. make the area related to Agriculture more exciting/glamorous for engineering students.

The highlights of this conference were as follows:

  1. It was realized that a significant disconnect between academia, steel mills, implement manufacturers and end users of implements such as tractor manufacturers exists. Dr. Pradip stressed that IIM should play a catalyst to create a strong eco-system. All the participants agreed that this type of conferences should be organized periodically at different venues.

  2. The ecosystem should identify and drive development of materials and processing specific to wear in agriculture machinery &implements. Mere adoption of grades developed for other disciplines (such as automobile) and tailor made it to solve agriculture related problem will hardly provide a clear value proposition in this sector. Dr. Satyam Sahay in his talk highlighted that in agriculture a strong value proposition is associated with solutions providing increasing wear life by nX instead of %.

  3. Prof. N. B. Dhokey and Prof. T. B. Bastewad presented their work on how B- steel with suitable heat treatment can result in significant increase in abrasive wear life. Most of the participants agreed that one of the most promising and versatile grades of steel for Agriculture application is Boron steel. However, they are currently being imported due to lack of availability in plate form in India. Steel mills and implement manufacturer should work together to produce and design implements for this steel grades.

  4. Dr. R. Bhide and Dr. U. Mhatre discussed on thin coating solutions for improving wear life and how these technologies are being successfully deployed in automobiles. However, they agreed that this technology is not ready yet to handle severe abrasive wear in agriculture sector. Mr. Gujar from Essen welding highlighted the opportunities for hard facing welding alloys for agriculture implements in terms of its versatility and cost.

  5. It was also realized that to speed up adoption of new implement design academia can design implements but its only big Machinery and implement manufacturer should support in testing of the newly designs implement and refine the designs and address the scale up challenge.

  6. For metallurgy students, materials related to agriculture areas are not glamorous. Therefore, students must be encouraged to take up and solve materials related project in agriculture industries. Machinery & implement manufacturers should support academia in identifying and sponsoring projects

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