Through innovative thinking and a continual drive to improve its machines, family-owned harvester manufacturer ROPA has grown into a thriving global business. A collaboration with Volvo Penta is helping the German company gather a growing share of the market.
The harvesting season for sugar beets may be short but its super intensive. Between September and November, weather permitting, harvesting machines operate up to 24 hours a day. Any delays during this time can result in spoiled produce and a loss of business.
“In terms of reliability, our machines are the best on the market,” says Michael Gruber, head of technology at ROPA. “Because of the customer service we provide, standstill times are shorter, and this is essential if the machine is to be profitable for our customer.”
Necessity is the mother of invention
ROPA’s origins date from 1972 when Hermann Paintner, a 25-year-old farmer from lower Bavaria, designed and built his own self-propelled sugar beet harvester from second-hand parts salvaged from a local scrap yard. His need to regularly adjust his machines led to rapid improvement, and it is this mindset that continues to drive ROPA forward today.
ROPA is now a leading global manufacturer with a broad range of products for harvesting sugar beets and potatoes, that are used in more than 40 countries. The Paintner family still owns and operates a farm in Sittelsdorf, near Munich, but alongside it are the facilities that make ROPA a world leader in agricultural machinery: a state-of-the-art production site; a research and development unit; and a pilot bio-gas plant for generating power and heat from sugar beets.
In 2016, ROPA began using two of Volvo Penta’s 16-liter engines in its Tiger 6 and Panther 2 models – its premier sugar beet harvesters. Key reasons for the selection were the engines’ reliability and good fuel efficiency. But it was also important to ROPA to be able to access help easily from Volvo Penta at its production plant, and for its customers to be able get their machines serviced conveniently anywhere in the world from the Volvo Penta Global Dealer Network.
“Our goal is to have engines in our machines that can operate between 13,000 and 15,000 hours without major repairs,” says Gruber. “In addition, we need customer support in all the countries where we deliver. If an engine is not working because of a lack of spare parts or service technicians, then for the customer the entire machine is bad.”
Ready for market
The three-axle Tiger 6 is the world’s most powerful sugar beet harvester and has won several awards for its performance, efficiency, and innovative design. The two-axle Panther 2 is a smaller, more compact machine for use where extra mobility is required.
“The success of our engines in ROPA’s machinery has been shown through the popularity of the Tiger 6 and Panther 2,” says Jochen Engelmann, head of industrial sales for central Europe at Volvo Penta. “We have established a strong relationship with ROPA and will continue to collaborate with them to ensure we cater for their needs. Our engines provide great fuel efficiency and robustness for a market where seasonality requires excellent productivity for the duration of harvesting periods.”
Volvo Penta will be exhibiting in Hall 15 Stand C18 at EIMA in Bologna, Italy, from November 7-11. ROPA will be exhibiting in Hall 25 Stand B52.