AGCO Power, the engine division of the AGCO corporation, quietly mentioned at the end of 2018 that it is to invest around €100 million in a new engine family at its manufacturing facility at Linnavuori, Finland.
That investment is now coming to fruition with the opening of the new factory which is intended to build a new family of off-road engines from 2022 onwards.
The planning of the investment demonstrates a far more holistic approach to manufacturing, with as much emphasis being placed on how the engines are produced, as the engine itself.
The factory lies just outside the city of Nokia. It was originally constructed underground to house a manufacturing and repair facility for the German airforce during the war, although the conflict ended before it became fully operational.
The cessation of hostilities left a fully equipped engine factory with no market and nothing to build, so the government took it on and immediately started producing Swedish designed engines under licence from Atlas Copco and Scania, among others.
The first off-road diesels of its own design followed shortly after with 12.5L units being produced for diesel railcars, constructed by a sister company in Tampere.
They were advanced motors for their time, having direct injection and designed to cope with turbocharging from the outset.
The first tractor engine was produced in 1957, known as the 309D; it powered Valmet’s (later Valtra) 33D, its second generation tractor that established the company as a serious and competent manufacturer.
Power density was always an important factor in designing its off-road engines. Diesels for construction and agriculture have to be a lot tougher than their road-going counterparts, so extracting 100hp from a four-cylinder tractor engine was a milestone for the company, and a world first, in 1969.
At this point the engine and tractor factories were sister companies under state ownership. Later, they were privatised as separate entities before coming together again through a convoluted series of company sales and takeovers, resulting in their final merger in 1993.
Ten years later, both the engine and tractor factories were acquired by AGCO which has continued to promote them as two divisions ever since.
This latest round of investment is aimed squarely at producing a new range of engines which are not confined to running on diesel alone, nor for exclusive use in AGCO products.
Powering engines with alternative fuels has long been part of AGCO Power’s plans. In 2016 it was developing machines powered by methane, either from anaerobic digestors or natural gas.
Although not stated in its latest information launch, we can expect the new engines to be a lot more comfortable with non fossil-derived diesel fuel and other energy sources.
AGCO Power states that “once fully operational, the 100% automated machining line enables flexible manufacturing of components in-house, reducing costs and increasing control over the production process”.
Next year the factory has its 80th birthday and the launch of the new off-road engines will form part of the company’s celebrations.