Double anniversary underlines powerful collaboration.

Founded 75 years ago, Austrian manufacturer Lindner has produced more than 80,000 tractors. For 60 of those years, it’s chosen Perkins engines to power its machines up and down its customers’ steepest Alpine slopes.


 

 

Still family-owned, the company is managed today by Hermann and Stefan Lindner as well as the next generation, David, Christoph and Manuel. Powernews spoke with Hermann and Stefan about the secret of the company’s success.

Counter-rotating double propellers, at first glance, have little connection with agricultural engineering. But Hermann Lindner sr’s invention – while on assignment to the Air Force during the Second World War – would earn him more than just his first patent.

His lifelong enthusiasm to always achieve better results saw his Tyrolean family business produce its first tractor just three years after the end of the war. Despite its 14 bhp output, the hand-built tractor nevertheless generated huge demand, a characteristic that has remained constant ever since.

“Lindner’s 273 employees now produce over 1,200 tractors and transporters every year,” says Hermann Lindner jr, “meeting the demands of alpine mountain and grassland farming, crop farming and the municipal sector.

“My grandfather’s pioneering spirit influences all we do. In all our developments, we’re always driven by one question: how can we best support our customers in their daily work?” he explains. An objective that has sustained the company for four generations, it has inspired innovations such as continuously variable transmissions, four-wheel steering and, most recently, the TracLink digital management system.

But it’s not just determination to innovate; it’s understanding where that innovation is needed. Coming from a family of mountain farmers, Lindner sr had farming in his blood: he had the insight to understand what farmers needed. The same mentality runs through the company today.

“We remain very close to our customers,” Hermann enthuses. “A third of our employees are themselves part-time farmers. They know exactly what a tractor or transporter needs to do in the field.

“While our customers are diverse – hay milk farmers to winegrowers – what they all have in common is that they want to be quality leaders in their respective fields, so they can produce perfect products.

“For that, evidently, they need the best technology. That’s why they choose Lindner. They know they’re choosing a vehicle designed and built by farmers, for farmers.”

Lindner has undoubtedly benefited from the professionalisation of farming over the last 75 years. “Our customers are farming larger areas, they’ve become more specialised, and they’re spending more time behind the wheel,” observes Stefan Lindner.

“Sit in the same seat for 400-600 hours a year, and high driving and operating comfort becomes imperative,” he says.

“Tractors and transporters with CVT are more efficient, yes, but their popularity – more than half our machines are delivered with CVT – comes down to them being more enjoyable and less tiring to operate for hours at a time.

“Buyers also appreciate the powerful hydraulics and four-wheel steering that features on Lintrac and Unitrac. And of course, there’s the expectations of digitalisation – a perfect route for us, in terms of making customers’ work easier by deploying intelligent solutions.”

The company’s TracLink, for example, enables vehicles to recognise individual attachments, document every use of the vehicle through data and insight on status, and to steer with an accuracy of within two centimetres.

Naturally Lindner doesn’t rely solely on its own innovations to make its brand successful. At the heart of every tractor is its engine. Early Lindner models were powered by in-house designs, from a facility set up in the 1950s, but the demand for more powerful engines persuaded the company to look for a competent and efficient partner: they settled on the world’s largest manufacturer of industrial diesel engines, and a Perkins engine – a version of the venerable 3.152 that had been powering the MF35 since 1959 – was first installed in 1963 in the new BF45 model.

An immediate hit, thanks to its strong performance and innovative cooling system (the earlier Warchalowski engines were air-cooled), the BF45 was the starting signal for the Lindner-Perkins collaboration and the beginning of decades of cooperation on an equal footing. By 1972, the company had ceased production of its own engines and switched exclusively to Perkins.

“It is very important to our customers that a strong and reliable heart beats under the bonnet,” says Stefan. “From a very basic point of view, high-torque engines are particularly important on steep slopes.

“But there’s far more to our choice than that. Perkins has always had its finger on the pulse of the times, whether it’s the switch to common-rail technology or Stage V compliance. Our customers are increasingly looking for sustainable solutions, whether they’re in organic farming or municipalities, so the clean and economical Stage V engines – as featured in the switched Lintrac LS series and the Unitrac series – hold special appeal.”

Choosing Perkins marks a key differentiator for Lindner, he says. “Our continuous focus on innovation, to meet the needs of our customers, was, is, and always will be the basis for our successful development.

“Add to that the fact we remain a family business: that means long-term development, rather than short-term gain, is our top priority. But it also gives us an ability to make decisions faster: we can react more flexibly to market changes, to customer feedback, to retailer intelligence, while pursuing the sustainable, long-term business strategy that meets our customers’ expectations.

“Taken together, we can look for and capture niches in the industry that are not served by the big players.”

And while Perkins is itself a ‘big player’, it hasn’t prevented a close and ongoing collaboration with Lindner. “Perkins gives us the opportunity to actively co-develop the engines,” reveals Hermann.

“We are a niche player in more ways than one. Think about the average altitude at which our machines operate: for Perkins, we test how engines perform when they’re in operation at 1,000m above sea level.

“Then there’s our dealers. Of course, it’s important to us that our dealers know exactly how the engines work and are always up to date. We emphasise training, so things like the Perkins Electronic Service Tool help the workshops make short work of troubleshooting. Servicing and repairs can be completed much more quickly when they have access to these tools.”

Ultimately, the success of the collaboration comes down to a similar mindset: always looking ahead and delivering the best results, thinks Stefan. “Our own challenges mirror those of our customers: how can we match their increasing professionalism and help them get more out of our tractors and transporters?

“For example, many customers who currently drive a Geotrac 134ep want to increase both performance and payload. So we’ve set ourselves our own challenge: optimising the interaction between the engine and the transmission, to eke out even better performance.

“Then there’s e-fuels, too. We’ve already tested the first Perkins engines with e-fuels, and we’re excited. Very promising results give us cause to look to the future with optimism,” he concludes.

“Perkins itself believes in the same secret of success as we do here at Lindner: be very close to your customers.”

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Perkins senior sales manager Jonathan Wilson presents a plaque to Lindner's CTO Stefan Lindner and CEO Hermann Lindner during the Agritechnica show.

Lindner celebration