Austrian company Goweil, which has some machines working here in Ireland, launched an interesting wheel drive system for its round balers at last week's Agritechnica show.

Featuring on the manufacturer's stand was one of its combination baler/wrapper units, the wheel drive system is intended to help with traction - in instances where a tractor might struggle to pull the machine due to poor conditions underfoot.

It is also intended to help in very hilly conditions or when the only available tractor is simply not big enough to do the job unaided.

The system relies on a sensor on the baler's (or combination baler/wrapper's) drawbar. It detects the inclination angle and, ultimately, how much force is needed to tug the machine along. It means that the system is 100% automatic.

If the going is especially tough, oil is pumped to the hydraulic motors on the baler's wheel hubs. It can work in reverse too; the system can actually provide a braking effect (when going downhill, for example). If the sensor detects that the baler is 'pushing' the tractor, a modest hydraulic 'braking' effort is applied.

Drive is via two radial, piston-type motors. The switch-over between forward and reverse is automatic - triggered by a signal from the sensor.

The speed of the two drive wheels is monitored and adjusted automatically; an in-cab display in the tractor keeps the driver abreast of what's happening.

When driving on the road, the hydraulic motors are automatically released (mechanically); they go into a 'free-wheeling' mode.

Available as a factory-fit option on Goweil's round balers and combination baler/wrappers, the system adds about €23,000 onto the price of the basic machine.

Who or what is Goweil?

Since 1988, Goweil has been active in the baling and wrapping business. Headquartered in Kirchschlag (Austria), it has more than 170 employees.

The company exports its machines around the world; the main market is Europe but machines also go to Japan, Canada, New Zealand and a host of other countries. In fact, exports now account for over 86% of total sales.

Back in 1988, at its foundation, the business was started by Herbert Goweil; the operation kicked off in a workshop on his parent's farm - in Kirchschlag. The business had just three staff at that time.

Early activities were focused on the fabrication of hydraulic log splitters, rollers, high-lift buckets and tipper bodies, along with all manner of repairs and one-off projects.

By the early 1990s, the workforce had grown to nine. A new production facility, along with purpose-built offices, was built. While one-off engineering projects still accounted for much of the entity's turnover, development and production of bale wrappers had started.

The business continued to grow; the next major construction project - effectively a newly-enlarged factory - came about in 2007. Other key milestones (in terms of factory developments) were reached in 2012 and, later, during 2013-2014.

Plans are afoot for a second production facility, in 'Rainbach im Muhlkreis' - also in upper Austria. It will be finished in 2020.