By Chris McCullough

COMBINE operators spend long hours behind the wheel of their machines, especially during the short weather window for harvesting.

In order for drivers to stay alert and continue to drive the combine efficiently, it is vital that manufacturers provide a comfortable working environment for the operator to work from. A comfortable cab is one with a good seat, excellent visibility, easy control access, low noise levels and sufficient ventilation, especially for hot weather conditions.

Operators come in all different shapes and sizes, therefore combine cab manufacturers try to ensure their cabs accommodate at least 90% of the driver population comfortably.

Other important aspects to ensure a comfortable in-cab working environment include ventilation and air conditioning. On hot harvest days there is a lot of dust around which can enter the cab via the ventilation or air conditioning system, so these need to have efficient filter systems that are easily and quickly cleaned.

Excessive noise levels are also a major health issue with regard to combine operators and need to be below regulatory levels to increase operator cab comfort as well.

In this feature article, we compare three of the top combine manufacturers’ latest cabs to investigate just how operator friendly they are.

Case IH 250 Series

WITH 3.67 cubic metres of space and 6.3 square metres of glass area, Case IH said the cab on the recently launched Case IH Axial Flow 250 Series of combines offers operators the best environment to work in.

Behind the cab door, operators can find ample space and storage, with excellent comfort, further enhanced by an ergonomic layout, air suspended operator seat, low noise levels and unrestricted views.

When harvest extends late into the night, the combine rolls on as halogen stadium lights are fitted to the Axial-Flow 250 series roof to illuminate the working area ahead of the machine.

For easy and full control, all essential functions are integrated into the right-hand 10.4-inch console and the multi-function control lever. The most commonly-used features and the AFS Pro 700 monitor are close at hand and ergonomically laid-out.

The new AFS Harvest Command automation system includes a patented functional crop flow illustration of the combine, making settings easy to find and understand.

Case IH offer two cab versions on its Axial-Flow 250 Series – the comfort cab and the luxury cab version. There’s also a reasonable sized ‘jockey’ seat for passengers

John Deere S700 Series

The main features in the S700 series cab start with the new CommandPRO joystick, which incorporates up to seven individually programmable shortcut buttons for customising the most useful functions.

The Generation 4 10-inch touchscreen display has been redesigned and is used in a similar manner as a smartphone by swiping between screens and using apps to run it the way the operator wishes.

Operators have clear views both ahead of them to the header and to the side as slimmer corner posts allow for an unobstructed view for easier grain unloading.

An exclusive under-floor heating system ensures the operator has a constant working temperature if required.

The operator’s seat now swivels 7.5° to the left side to help with visual checks when unloading without having to stretch over to look out the window and 15° to the right. As the cab is one of the widest on the market, there is also a spacious passenger seat to the side.

Customers have a choice of an optional leather package to further aid comfort which includes a leather steering wheel and air-cooled seat.

Claas Lexion 700 Series

A three-position adjustable steering column and super soundproofing, are just some of the features that ensure Claas Lexion 700 Series operators have a comfortable cab in which to work.

The working area ahead of the combine is well illuminated by up to 12 work lights on the cab roof and a long-range work light with extended range for lighting up large areas.

Claas places great emphasis on its Cebis electronic on-board information system which is distinguished by its clear, logical organisation of functions in the menu structure.

A brief glance at the 8.4-inch Cebis display gives an overview of the current processes and conditions. All the relevant information for driving or harvesting is summarised clearly on the screen. Warning messages are given audibly as a buzz tone and visually as icons and text to keep the operator fully aware of any issues should they arise.

Moving on to the main controls, the Cmotion multi-function control lever, which is integrated in the right armrest of the operator’s seat, plays a key role in making the Lexion as user friendly as it can be.

The cab interior measures 1.61m high by 1.495m deep and 1.64m wide and has enhanced operator visibility thanks to narrow side beams.

On the back wall of the cab there is a large horizontal grain tank window to make it easier for the operator to see the grain as it fills into the tank acting as an extra visual check on combine performance.

Three different seats are available for the Lexion cab; the comfort seat, the comfort seat with leather and the Actimo Evolution Premium seat,which has more lumbar support and climate control than the others.