The sugarcane harvesting industry in Brazil is a tough working environment. The equipment is constantly pushed to its limits. Using tools that can not only withstand abrasion and impact, but also improve the quality and consistency of the cut is crucial for long-term productivity and sugarcane regrowth. Many of the cutting blades on the market, however, do not meet these criteria. This is because materials designed for extreme wear resistance are often brittle and offer much lower resilience.
2.5 years of testing and a thousand cutting blades later
Sugarcane harvesting company, Usina Ferrari, worked in close partnership with Höganäs to develop a customised solution that would not only improve the lifespan and cost efficiency of its machine blades but also ensure a cleaner cut, allowing the sugarcane to quickly regrow for the next harvest.
Sergio Simoes, Höganäs surface coating, Brazil, explains: “With continuous testing, using at least one thousand knives over a period of 2.5 years (the harvest season is 10 months), it was concluded that laser cladding the blades with our unique steel-based metal powder provided the best result. Laser cladding is the best application method because it allows a thin coating (0.5mm thick in this case) and – crucially – does not change or weaken the structure of the base material.”
Increased resilience and improved cutting
High resistance to both impact and abrasion wear was achieved and the cut was much cleaner, ensuring consistent, healthy regrowth of the sugarcane.
Edimilson Leal, Usina Ferrari, says: “One of our priorities is to preserve the environment, and our choice of surface coating is completely in line with this. Increased lifespan for our equipment means that in the long run, we will consume less raw material and energy. The coated blades also provide a more accurate cut, with less damage to the structure of the plants, which allows them to regrow better.”
Leal adds: “Höganäs’s solution proved invaluable to us. By using it on the blades of our harvesting machines, we have seen knife productivity rise from 89 tonnes of sugarcane per knife to an impressive 211 tonnes per knife before breaking. The machine productivity rises from 545 tonnes a day to 585 tonnes a day. This, in turn, has resulted in an increase in productivity of more than 7 percent.”
The work does not stop there
Höganäs continues to work in partnership with Usina Ferrari and is currently testing another powder composition on re-designed blades that optimise longevity, cutting quality and consistency even further.