Sugarcane Harvester

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This idea was born after practically witnessing the hardships encountered by rural farmers in harvesting saplings. In recent years labor is not available for carrying out basic agricultural operations. The same problems are happening for the sugarcane and tapioca cultivators. India is one of the major producers of sugarcane and tapioca, In the sugarcane production India is ranking in second position with 4.09 millon hectares and producing 283 million tonnes with the production of 72.6 tonnes per hectare and also in tns producing 7620200 tonnes in 242400.0 hectares with 17500 kgs per hectare. The main objective of this project paper is to demonstrate the process of harvesting tall field plants like sugarcane by cutting it and placing it into a box using grippers. Our ideas are mainly concentrated towards the basic mechanical, pneumatic and electrical systems to frame the project with robotic resemblance. With the increasing demands for energy, we may face the energy crisis and thus the system is targeted to work with high efficiency, without any fuel power requirements. The difference between manual and automated harvest is nearly 1/20 per hectare of the total cost, which saves around Rs. 5000 per hectare. Thus this simplifies the initial stage of the sugar and its bi- product production for the industries.


Automated sugarcane harvester is a unique, noble idea (which has been materialized) aimed towards the  betterment of  humanity. This  idea  of  fabricating a project that can harvest tall plants like sugarcane came across when it was known that manual labor still persists in such fields. It has the capability of harvesting four crops at a time. The project is a simple idea which consists of a movable mechanical base coupled with a gripper and a motor to move the gripper arm setup to the side after harvesting the crops.  It works on pneumatic power with two cylinders ready to facilitate the process. Circular saw is fixed at the base of the movable mechanical base.  A motor setup is used to turn the mechanical arm 90 degrees to either side as required by the user. The motor is powered by the use of a 12 volt battery. The mechanical base is moved by the use of four wheels


The mechanical base gives the foundation of the project. It is able to move with the help of the four wheels welded at its base. The handle used by the user is placed just
50 mm from the top of the controls. The length of the handle is just 160 mm which is an adequate measurement when considering the palm of a person. In order to provide a base for the control valves, a small platform is made to sustain control valves. A person can easily operate the mechanism since it is placed at hip length of a person. The wheels have a diameter of 185 mm with the tube on and 150 mm without the tubes. It is welded 60 mm from the base.
Sugarcane Harvester Seminar Reports




A compressor is a machine that compresses air or any other type of gas from a low inlet pressure (usually atmospheric) to a high desired pressure level. This is accomplished by reducing the volume of the gas. Air compressors are generally positive displacement units and are either of the reciprocating piston type or the rotary screw type or rotary vane types. In this project, automated sugarcane harvester, reciprocating type compressor (multi stage) has been used.


Direction control valves are used to control the direction of flow of pneumatic air or hydraulic fluid in the circuit. Any valve contains the ports that are external openings through which fluid can enter and leave via connecting pipelines. The number of ports on a direction control valves is identified using the term way as shown in the figure below.
                   In this project, 5/2 Direction control valve is used with the specification.
                       5/2 DCV -SMSN
                       MODEL -4210
                       1.5-08 Kgf/cm2
Sugarcane Harvester Seminar Reports
               Direction control valve



            Pneumatic cylinders (sometimes known as air cylinders) are mechanical devices, which produce force, often in combination with movement, and are powered by compressed gas (typically air).

                 To perform their function, pneumatic cylinders impart a force by converting the potential energy of compressed gas into kinetic energy. This is achieved by the compressed gas being able to expand, without external energy input, which itself occurs due to the pressure gradient established by the compressed gas being at a greater pressure than the atmospheric pressure. This air expansion forces a piston to move in the desired direction.
Sugarcane Harvester Seminar Reports
Pneumatic cylinder



Spur gears have teeth parallel to the axes and thus, are not subjected to axial thrust due to tooth load. At the time of engagement of the two gears, the contact extends across the entire width on a line parallel to the axes of rotation.
Sugarcane Harvester Seminar Reports
                              Spur gear



The circular saw is used to cut the sugarcane at the base of the stalk. This makes it easier for the gripper to grab and put it at the side. We have used a 4 inch circular cutter which has forty teeth to facilitate the cutting process. The cutter has to be used in clockwise rotation since the teeth are faced in that way. It has a 20 mm arbor which is adequate. This cutter is placed at 150 mm at the midpoint of the mechanical base. The circular saw is activated by a foot switch that pushes it forward. The circular saw is rotated continuously by the use of a simple AC motor. As soon as the foot is released from the switch, the saw returns to its original position.




The gripper is the important part of the project. It measures 650 mm in length and is fixed in pairs. The gripper has ten high tension springs with which the sugarcane can be held as shown .As soon as the gripper arms close up on the sugarcane crop, the springs take up the shape of the sugarcane. This gives it a good grip on the crop and several of such crops.


It works on the property of pneumatics in which different bar pressures are applied to the cylinder. The arm is lifted based on the pressure provided to the lifting cylinder. More the pressure applied, more is the power of the gripper to lift the plants. When closed the clearance is 10 mm while open its 145 mm. It is made up of nickel steel.

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       Spring controlled gripper

              The DC motors used may be of brushed or brushless type. Many of the limitations of the classic commutator DC motor are eliminated in the brushless motor.   In this motor, the mechanical "rotating switch" or commutator/brush gear assembly is replaced by an external electronic switch synchronized to the rotor's position. Brushless motors are typically 85-90% efficient, whereas DC motors with brush gear are typically 75-80% efficient.

Two speed wiper motor
Motor runs at 40 rpm
Motor draws 3.1 ampere at no load, 12 V
Size of the motor may be 7 inch*3.25 inch*4inch.
May be electrically isolated



The overall size of the project is 27 inch x14 inch x 27 inch. Thus the overall assembly consists of mechanical, electrical and pneumatic components as shown .In a nutshell, this project was implemented in a few acres of land. The whole setup is moved manually to the bunch of sugarcanes. The arm lever is diverted to a side which activates it to move vertically upward. Then the gripper lever is diverted to a side which opens the gripper. Then the setup is moved forward so that the gripper comes in the vicinity of the sugarcanes. After this, it is closed by the use of the gripper lever. Further the foot pedal is pressed in the downward direction and these results in forward motion of the circular saw. The mechanical arm setup is rotated with the help of the DC wiper motor and the gripper arm is rotated 90 degrees to either side based on the users need. Then the gripper lever is diverted to the opposite side and the gripper opens up. The crops are then dropped to the ground.

Sugarcane Harvester Seminar Reports
                            Overall assembly

When P = 1 bar, Cylinder diameter = 60 mm


Then F = 282.74 N


When P = 1.25 bar, Cylinder diameter = 60 mm


Then F = 353.42 N


When P = 2 bar. Cylinder diameter = 60 mm


Then F = 565.48 N


When P = 2.5 bar, Cylinder diameter = 60 mm


Then F = 706.85 N

Sugarcane Harvester Seminar Reports

         Force Vs Pressure relationship.

The pneumatic supply is through the compressor, which has been regulated, as per the experimental study, with the help of FRL unit. This pneumatic supply is given to the 4 gripper positions per gripper arm via hoses at the orifices of the gripper positions. With respect  to  the  cylinder  diameter  the  force  acted  upon  on  these  orifices  has  been calculated
The difference between manual and automated harvest is nearly 1/20 per acre of the total cost.

Manual harvest          - Rs8000 per acre
Automated harvest     -Rs3000 per acre
       •     The working fluid is very light in weight so supply hoses are not heavy.
       •     Fast response of the pneumatic system.
       •     Reduces the need for manpower and labour cost.

                   Stack can be fixed at the sideways to place the sugarcanes. Shock absorbers can be placed, so that smooth movement of wheel on the hard terrain is eased.
                   With respect to the current statistics as per formulated by the UN food and agricultural organization, India still lags behind the top spot Brazil in sugar and its byproducts production. Since, sugar and its byproducts is one of the highly consumed and one of the essential goods in day to day life, with the concept and knowledge of science and engineering, the target of India as to be highest producers of sugar and its by products can be reached.  Automated sugarcane harvester is one such initial stage of the application of science and engineering to simplify the harvesting of sugarcane thereby gradual increment in the production of sugar and it’s by products.
This not only leads to the social development but also the overall economy of India can be boosted up. As automation sector has taken up almost all the sectors, we realized that the implementation of automation in the agricultural sector can quadruple the rate of production but also keeping in view of the issues like safety and work ethical values thereby not disturbing upon the agriculture employment sector. Though this model has been practiced and successfully implemented on few acres of sugarcane field, with the further modifications such as efficient riding of this automated machine, this can be brought onto the large acres of land.

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