TIM enables machines and implements to take over control of certain tractor functions. What effect does this have on drivers and why is TIM indispensable for autonomous operations?
TIM is short for Tractor Implement Management, an Isobus protocol with which an implement or machine can request certain actions or functions from tractors, such as bringing a tractor to a stop at exactly the right moment, adjusting the PTO speed, and operating the hitch and spool valves.
Future Farming took a seat next to the users of the very first combination in the Netherlands to experience the practical potential and benefits of TIM. They explain why they didn’t wanted it at first and why it became indispensable right from the start.
Since May 2020, brothers Henk and Marinus Hertgers have run a TIM-compatible Deutz-Fahr 6185 TTV tractor and Krone Comprima CF 155 XC variable baler-wrapper combination. When buying their new 6185 TTV, they did notice the small green TIM button in the cab and they also knew that their new Krone is TIM certified. But initially they thought ‘what’s the point?’
If we‘d had to pay any license fees, we would have said no
Until their dealer proposed to activate the preliminary licences for free so that they could just try it out. “But,” says Marinus, “if we‘d had to pay any license fees, we would have said no.”
TIM license fees depend on the tractor brand and type, on the machine and on the Isobus terminal, but they generally vary from a one-off fee of € 500 to € 1,500.
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Only a trained eye can distinguish TIM-compatible machinery from non-compatible versions at first glance. In this case, the Deutz-Fahr 6185 TTV has an Isobus sticker on the lower rear window which the Krone Comprima CF 155 XC lacks. You won’t however find a TIM symbol on those stickers, as they’re all the same and purely meant to indicate Isobus compatibility.
So prior to a purchase, it’s better to visit www.aef-isobus-database.org or use the app to check for TIM certifications in the AEF Isobus database. In this particular case, TIM functionality is limited to automatically stopping the tractor just before bale binding starts. If you run a solo Krone baler such as the VariPack V 190 XC, the opening of the tail gate is TIM controlled as well.
After connecting the baler’s Isobus plug to the tractor, both software versions check each other’s compatibility by ‘exchanging’ their TIM certificates when you start the tractor. Next you activate the TIM function on the tractor by pressing the small green TIM button in the side console of the Deutz-Fahr. Then several squares appear on the Isobus terminal with four small quadrants/pies each.
For every possible functionality, there’s a quadrant/pie that is either not coloured, or coloured yellow, or green. As soon as you see three green quadrants, TIM automation is enabled on the tractor side. This applies to each individual functionality.
Now, a pop-up window appears with again three (out of four) quadrants coloured green, a symbol of the functionalities involved (driving speed in this case) and the buttons ‘cancel’ and ‘accept’. Press ‘accept’ and the wheels of the Deutz-Fahr on the display turn orange instead of black and the squares change into a green rotor-like star.
On the baler side, the same applies: as soon as you see three green quadrants for each available functionality, TIM automation is enabled and a pop-up window appears in which you press ‘accept’. In the main screen, a TIM button with a pause symbol appears at the right-hand bottom. This allows you to pause (and restart) the functionality.
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Once set and activated, the baler gives a stop command to the tractor when it’s time to tie the bale. The tractor then stops automatically – quite abruptly. When you reverse, put the gearbox in neutral or stand up from your seat – TIM automation is deactivated and you will get the pop-up screen with ‘cancel’ and ‘accept’ again. Press ‘accept’ and it is active again.
Nonsense? Far from it, according to Henk and Marinus. Despite the fact that they didn’t want it at first. Marinus: “Normally I keep my right foot floating above the brake pedal and keep a close eye on the bale filling indicator on the terminal. As soon as this reaches 80%, I pay close attention to the baling progress to hit the brakes right before the net or film binding starts.”
We have fewer failures, because TIM always stops the tractor exactly on time
This is now automated and the tractor always stops at exactly the right moment. “This gives me peace of mind and it reduces stress because I don’t have to pay attention to the terminal all the time. And my right foot is much less tired after a long day of baling. It’s also ideal when swaths vary in thickness, and there’s no risk of trapping silage or straw between layers of film.”
“I don’t think our throughput per hour has gone up, but I can concentrate better on following the swaths and on the baling. And we have fewer failures, because TIM always stops the tractor exactly on time. We already find it indispensable!”
TIM currently focusses on assisting and taking over functions from drivers and operators and an ever growing number of brands get the AEF TIM certification.
But what if there’s no driver left in the cab anymore? Or if field robots and autonomous tractors take over? Then TIM basically is a precondition for operating and controlling the wide array of machines and implements found on farms and at contractors.
Existing machines can be upgraded with systems like Lemken iQblue and various manufacturers of autonomous retrofit kits and field robots such as GPX Solutions and AgXeed already or will soon enable TIM functionalities.
Baling with TIM
Together with an uncle, brothers Henk and Marinus Hertgers run a company with several activities in the East of The Netherlands. They currently grow 75 heifers, 75 beef cattle and 600 fattening pigs. In addition, they offer agricultural contracting in the area around their farm.