Co Meath-based manufacturer Dromone Engineering is no stranger to innovation. In fact, the company is rooted in innovation since it developed its first tractor pickup hitch in 1978.
Since its foundation, Dromone has continued to evolve by continually developing new and innovative products that have allowed the company to grow to its current size, where it employs 150 people and has an annual turnover in excess of €20m.
With a strong focus on customers in export markets, Dromone specialises in the development of innovative hitch systems for machinery in the farm and construction sectors.
Some of the largest machinery companies in the world, such as Volvo, Kubota, AGCO (Massey Ferguson, Valtra and Fendt tractors) and Claas, are customers of Dromone Engineering today.
The company’s most recent innovation is its HAL system, which stands for Hitched and Locked. Essentially, this system is designed to bring added safety features to its core range of hitches for tractors and construction machinery.
First launched at the LAMMA show in Germany earlier this year, HAL is an electronic monitoring system that uses sensor technology to tell the machine operator whether or not an attachment has been safely hitched and locked.
To do this, Dromone has installed sensors on its latch systems, which provide a signal to the in-cab system and alert the machine operator via audible and visual signals in the cab that the hitch is safely locked or unlocked.
In the past, machinery operators had to leave the cab to manually check if the hitch was fully latched. In this situation, human error often meant that the machinery operators could mistakenly believe the hitch was fully latched when it was not, which created the potential for trailers or attachments to uncouple during transport and cause serious injury or death.
Dromone believes that using this sensor technology in the HAL system will help eliminate potentially serious accidents, injuries or deaths with unlatched farm machinery and rule out human error entirely.
For this reason, Dromone’s HAL system was awarded the Safety Award for an established company at the 2020 Innovation Arena, which is run by Enterprise Ireland and the National Ploughing Association.
Judges scored the product very highly for its innovative use of sensor technology to help remove human error when it comes to safely latching attachments to machinery and remove the risk of accidents, serious injury and death as a result.
With Dromone having a 40% share of the market for hitches used in new tractors sold every year, there is a significant market for the rollout of this new technology.
With an ever-increasing focus on farm safety, particularly when it comes to farm machinery, there is potential that this new technology could become a minimum standard on future tractors through new health and safety legislation at a State or even European level.