New tractors for old
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CTA. 1992. New tractors for old. Spore 39. CTA, Wageningen, The Netherlands.
Permanent link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/10568/45747
In many developing countries up to 30% of tractors are standing idle because of a lack of replacement parts. Surveys indicate that in Africa alone there are some 100,000 tractors in a state of disrepair. Machinery graveyards have become all too...
In many developing countries up to 30% of tractors are standing idle because of a lack of replacement parts. Surveys indicate that in Africa alone there are some 100,000 tractors in a state of disrepair. Machinery graveyards have become all too common. However, recent initiatives demonstrate that such machinery can be rehabilitated to virtually 'es new' so limiting the expense of importing new machines. Controversy continues on the issue of farm mechanization in developing countries. Many tractors and other items of agricultural equipment fail after relatively short working lives. Therefore, as long as they are appropriate, why not rehabilitate them? Equipment purchased with scarce foreign exchange and now idle for want of repair represents wasted investment. Often a relatively small input could mobilize these power units for cultivation and transport. In 1982 a pilot tractor rehabilitation scheme was set up in Mozambique. In 1979 it had been estimated that 50% of the tractors in the country were inoperative through premature failure. Since 70% of the national tractor fleet were Massey-Ferguson models, the company was involved in devising an innovative solution to this dire situation. This programme of rehabilitation, overhaul and certification became known as the ROC scheme. The ROC scheme not only repairs the tractor, but also upgrades it so that the completed machine is equivalent to the latest model in that range produced by the Company. All the essential components (engine, clutch, gearbox and hydraulics) are replaced with current specification assemblies and the tractor is re-sprayed. On completion the machine is given a full warranty and new registration. Tractor owners hand over their old tractor, and it is rebuilt as an ROC tractor for approximately 75% of the cost of an equivalent new import. The ROC or Rebuild scheme has now rehabilitated over 5,000 tractors in projects in Africa covering Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Nigeria, Somalia, Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe. Another, less costly alternative is the basic rehabilitation scheme where each tractor is assessed and renovated according to its individual needs. Unserviceable parts are repaired or replaced and the tractor is returned to its owner as new. The benefit of this option is that a tractor can be restored to excellent working order for between one third and one half of the price of an equivalent new machine. Massey-Fergusonremains the major manufacturers involved in both the complete rebuild and selective replacement schemes, but a renovation programme for Ford tractors was launched in Tanzania alongside the Massey-Ferguson programme. National benefits The rehabilitation and rebuild programmes are operated mainly by the tractor manufacturers' local distributors. The aim is to employ and train local staff so that once the initial project is completed, trained mechanics are available to carry out regular service and maintenance in the future. The indirect causes of premature equipment failure have included government policies towards agricultural mechanization which have underestimated the training required, not only of operators and service managers but also of distributor staff and government staff. Government policies have also penalized imports of replacement parts. Rehabilitation and repair projects have demonstrated that training and expenditure on essential replacement is not so much a cost to the nation as a saving. Could local industries provide even more employment and save more foreign exchange by manufacturing replacement parts locally? The answer is yes, although with strict limitations. Manufacturers, who are going to guarantee rehabilitated equipment, wish to ensure that all replacement parts are made to the stringent standards demanded for the proper functioning and long life of engines and other moving parts that have to work under severe mechanical load. Unless a tractor maker has a subsidiary company in a country, the highly engineered components of engines and bearings will almost certainly have to be imported. Components such as radiators, electrical systems, water pumps, clutch assemblies, brake shoes and fuel injection equipment could readily be reconditioned locally. However, even these repair shops would need to be specialized, have appropriate inputs of technical data to ensure the required specification, and pay attention to quality control. Future development of parts manufacturing industries will depend on the size of the domestic market and any prospects for export. The commitment of governments to industrialization will be fundamental. Meanwhile the current level of commitment by several governments has already ensured a dramatic improvement in the serviceability of tractor fleets at relatively modest cost and with the benefits of local employment and training. Direct benefits for the agricultural sector have resulted through the provision of 'as good as new' equipment at prices more farmers can afford.