Articles

Colombo Winning Favour with Peanut Growers

excerpt from Growing Georgia - The Business of Agriculture   Tuesday, May 28th, 2013

For years, KMC and Amadas have led the industry in peanut combines, but another company is starting to make headway in the market. And the reason is simple – the machine is simple.
“The main reason (we chose Colombo) was the lack of maintenance,” said Andy Thornburg, one of about a dozen farmers in the Mobile, Ala., area who have switched to Colombo in the past few years.
In 2011, Thornburg replaced one of his Amadas self-propelled combines with a Colombo. The next year he replaced the other.
“It’s been a pretty big change,” he said. “We’ve been looking at them for a long time, but one day I finally said, ‘OK, I’m gonna try it out.’ ”
He’s happy with his choice. Colombo says more than 150 farmers in the U.S. have made the same decision.

History

When Colombo first introduced its machines to farmers in the Southeastern U.S. a decade ago, the company already had a long history in Latin America.
The company started in the early 1970s, when the Colombo family of Brazil created a machine to meet their own needs growing beans in Pindorama, Sao Paulo Brazil. The family needed to mechanize the harvest and simply invented equipment to meet their own needs.
“This simple home solution started to grow,” said President/ CEO Leandro Santos. “Neighboring farmers requested use of the Colombo family machines in their crops.”
The company, Indústrias ReunidasColombo, was born.  
 The machines use a FABI-Fluxo system and low impact axial system, which allows farmers to harvest dry, partially moist and green beans. The company grew over time to manufacture the drive shafts and spiders that are in Colombo machines, and most all agricultural machines sold in Brazil.

Low maintenance

One of the main reason peanut and bean producers like Colombo is that the simplicity of the machine means it requires little maintenance.
“Last year, we had to replace a belt on one and had a bearing go out on another … but that’s about it,” said Thornburg.
But that doesn’t mean the design is rustic or unrefined. Colombo engineers have met with farmers in his area and incorporated their ideas into the equipment, Thornburg said.
“If you’ve got an idea, they sure will look at it,” he said. “When you are riding along all day every day at that speed, you’ve got a lot of time to think about how things are done.”
Reducing maintenance isn’t as much about avoiding expense as it is about avoiding down time.
“Those who grow on the land need to work without having any downtime in the most important moments of each season,” Santos said.

More time in the field

The Colombo design also allows the machine to work under damper conditions, the company and farmers say.
Thornburg, who has about 870 acres of peanuts this year, needs every extra hour he can get in the field.
In his Colombo, Thornburg runs at 2.2 to 2.5 mph, up from the 1.7 to 1.8 mph in combines he used before.
“That doesn’t sound like much, but over seven to eight hours, it really adds up,” he said.
Adjustable rotor pins allow the machine to pick in a wider variety of conditions, and the axial rotary system is not as harsh at the conventional cylinder machines that competitors use.
“The flexibility in harvest time is a major advantage. Having that extra time every day to continue picking adds up to huge savings,” Santos said. 

Made in America

Colombo first introduced its equipment in the U.S. 10 years ago, but already has found domestic parts manufacturers and suppliers.
“They said, ‘If we are going to sell them in America, we are going to buy American parts,” Thornburg said.
“We enjoy working with them. They will listen and consider our ideas,” he added. “We always are tinkering with stuff; we don’t ever leave stuff alone. We piddle.”
A Colombo engineer is coming out to consider an idea for the hydraulics, Thornburg said, while one of his neighbors has an idea for improving the header.
For more about Colombo in the United States, go to www.colombona.com