Helmut Claas, for many years the managing partner of the CLAAS Group and chair of the Shareholders’ Committee, will celebrate his 90th birthday on 16 July. He built the company, founded by his father and uncles, into one of the world’s leading agricultural machinery enterprises.
“Helmut Claas has been a decisive source of both ideas and action for decades. With great expertise and persistence, he led the CLAAS family firm through good times and bad, repeatedly providing important stimuli for technological progress in agricultural engineering”, says Lothar Kriszun, spokesperson for the CLAAS Group Executive Board.
Helmut Claas was born in 1926 in Harsewinkel, Germany, the eldest of three children. Between 1948 and 1954 he completed a degree in mechanical engineering at the Technical University of Hanover. This included a semester at the Technical University of Vienna and a year of agricultural studies in Paris. This was followed by further studies in the field at the University of Vienna and the Grande École Nationale d’Agriculture in Paris.
After finishing his studies he took responsibility for the planning and establishment of a CLAAS distributorship in France, now trading as CLAAS France.
In 1958 Helmut Claas entered his parents’ family firm in Harsewinkel, Germany. In 1962 he was appointed director of the engineering department. When the company was re-established as a general partnership under German law (OHG) in 1978, he became a personally liable partner. In 1996, as part of the restructuring of the firm into a joint-stock company, he moved from the role of managing partner to be chair of both the Supervisory Board and the Shareholders’ Committee.
His special focus has always been on developing pioneering products and mass producing them economically. A whole series of innovations were initiated or co-created by Helmut Claas. For example, in 1970 the DOMINATOR series was developed, based on a modular or platform construction concept. The DOMINATOR became one of the most successful combine harvester models in the world.
Its successor model, the LEXION, was also developed in Helmut Claas’s era. This is still considered the most advanced and capable combine harvester worldwide. The development of the JAGUAR self-propelled forage harvester, was also a success story, one that enabled CLAAS to dominate global markets.
In 2003 he succeeded in taking an important step towards developing and securing the company’s future success through the takeover by CLAAS of the whole tractor division of Renault Agriculture. Since then the company has been in a position to supply the global agriculture sector with the complete range of important farming machines.
Many internationally prestigious universities in Hungary, the United Kingdom, Bulgaria and Germany have awarded honorary doctorates to Helmut Claas. For example, in 2000 he received the honorary title “Doctor of Agricultural Studies” in “recognition of his outstanding achievements in the field of agricultural engineering and his particular services in the development of high-performance, modern agricultural machines” from the University of Stuttgart-Hohenheim. It was also the University of Stuttgart-Hohenheim that, in 2004, appointed him to its honorary senate for his lifetime achievement in the field of pioneering agricultural technology. In June 2009, the then Goryachkin University of Moscow, now the Timiryazev Agricultural Academy, appointed him an honorary professor. Also in 2009, the Republic of France appointed Helmut Claas “Chevalier dans l’Ordre de la Legion d’honneur”, honouring his services as a pioneer of Franco-German cooperation.Personal awards, such as honorary citizenship of his home town of Harsewinkel, Germany, the Medal for Merit of the German state of Baden-Württemberg, as well as the Order of Merit of the French Agriculture Minister, round off his life’s work.
The long-term further development of the CLAAS family firm has rested on firm foundations for many years. Today his daughter Cathrina Claas-Mühlhäuser leads the corporate group as chair of the Supervisory Board.
"Information and communications technologies will play key roles in the future of CLAAS. We selected the location carefully, and are delighted that we can now proceed to the actual building phase", explains Thomas Böck, responsible for technology and systems on the CLAAS Executive Board.
Foundation setting of the future CLAAS E-Systems building, from the left: Uwe Teltschik (MBN Bau AG), Volker Claas (CLAAS shareholder), Theodor Wilken (Spokesman of the MBN Bau AG Executive Board), Dr. Michael Lübbersmann (District Administrator Osnabrück), Lothar Kriszun (Spokesman of the CLAAS Group Executive Board), Cathrina Claas-Mühlhäuser (Chairwoman of the CLAAS Supervisory Board ), Thomas Böck (CLAAS Group Executive Board, Technology and Systems), Reinhold Claas (CLAAS shareholder), Dr. Carsten Hoff (Managing Director CLAAS E-Systems), Hartmut Nümann (Mayor of Dissen), Rainer Spiering (Member of the German Bundestag).
The international agricultural machinery company is investing a seven-figure sum in the south of Lower Saxony. Construction work on the roughly five-hectare property, which is located directly adjacent to the Dissen motorway junction, is scheduled for completion in 2017. In future, the actual ‘lord of the manor’ in the new development centre will be CLAAS E-Systems. CLAAS pooled its electronics expertise in this new subsidiary in 2014. Over 150 employees work here developing control units, electronics architectures, terminals, camera systems, automatic satellite-guided steering systems and many other solutions for an increasingly digital, networked agricultural sector. The staff at CLAAS E-Systems came here from a variety of CLAAS subsidiaries in Gütersloh, Harsewinkel, Bad Saulgau, Paderborn and Denmark.
Yield mapping – an example of ’Precision Farming’
CLAAS had already purchased one of the leading agricultural software companies back in 1998, and has integrated it successfully within the Group. Since then, a highly capable range of technologies designed to increase efficiency has emerged at the Gütersloh site under the brand name EASY. CLAAS has become one of the leading providers of solutions in the area of precision farming, and has received numerous awards for its innovative developments.
Draft of the future CLAAS E-Systems building in Dissen.
These include the proven HEXASHIFT transmission, CSM headland management and TELEMATICS. The newly developed dynamic steering system is also available as an additional option for ARION 400 tractors.
The ARION 400 models are ideal universal tractors for use with any operation thanks to their compact design and an engine range from 90 to 140 HP. With the expanded variety of configurations, farmers will now be able to undertake tasks such as soil cultivation, forage work, transport or using a front loader with even greater ease.
Optimised work solution with HEXASHIFT transmission and CSM headland management
Two transmission variants are now available for ARION 460 to 430 models: the existing QUADRISHIFT and now the HEXASHIFT transmission. The HEXASHIFT transmission can be used on the road at a lower engine rpm with four automated ranges and six power-shift stages. This means less driving noise for the driver and a lower diesel consumption. The six power-shift stages allow for a large gear overlap, so that the optimum rpm and driving speed can be selected for each application. All 24 gears can be conveniently changed using the multifunctional lever, without having to use the clutch pedal. The driver also has the option to completely leave the tractor to automatically change gear by selecting the HEXACTIV power-shift mode.
Another newly released option for the ARION 400 model range is the proven CSM headland management system (CLAAS SEQUENCE MANAGEMENT), which is available with CIS colour display. Several tractor functions can be saved as operating sequences with this system, such as electronic control units, power lift, engine rpm and p.t.o. shaft. The operation is very simple and relieves the workload on the driver, especially when it comes to complex driving manoeuvres, which usually require numerous operating steps. A total of 4 headland sequences with up to 200 steps can be saved, which can be activated using the CSM operating panel in the right side console or the multifunction lever.
A steering system that thinks for you
Even the newly developed dynamic steering system provides relief for many tractor operations, as it allows the driver to change the number of steering wheel rotations for the same steering lock angle at the touch of a button and thus adapt it to the specific task. From stop to stop, the number of steering wheel rotations can be reduced from 4.5 when deactivated, to only one to three rotations. This makes handling significantly easier, especially with steering-intensive work such as when using a front-loader or at a headland.
The driver can choose between three different modes for dynamic steering using the CIS colour display. Approximately 90 per cent of all work can be executed with a steering angle dependent mode, where the steering automatically accelerates the stronger the turn. In the speed-dependent mode, the steering transmission is automatically reduced as the tractor speed increases above 10 km/h. Using the third mode, the steering transmission is manually adjusted independent of the speed or steering angle lock. The activation of the dynamic steering system is quick and easy via a button in the right side console.
Everything under control with TELEMATICS
The CLAAS TELEMATICS system is another valuable feature present in CLAAS high-horsepower tractors and harvesting machines that is now available for ARION 400 tractors. TELEMATICS records all the central machine data and positions for each application. Ongoing work can be monitored and optimised via remote diagnostics. Another advantage is the automatic, field-by-field documentation of all data, which can be exported directly into a field record. It is also possible to compare all machine applications over longer periods and to further optimise all tractor work using the data history.