Gold Key Trip

Monday, December 3, 2018

Late last week, John and I spent a couple days in Illinois, making a trip to Moline to see our new S780 combine come together.  This program is something John Deere calls their “Gold Key” program, where the customer is invited in to see the Harvester Works (HW), and have some interaction with their particular machine.  Yes, we’ve been to Gold Key a few times before, but it is an experience that never grows old or ordinary!  In past trips, they timed your visit so that you arrive at the assembly line at the exact time your combine arrives at Station 22–where you get to start the engine for its first time.  On this visit, however, they had simplified the process (for them) and we saw our combine completed, and ready to ship.  It was outdoors, and an HW employee took me for a ride around the grounds in the finished product.  They brought it inside so that we could comfortably view it up close, and have the opportunity for some pictures.   It was a neat day to visit with the HW employees who build your combine, and see your new combine for the first time.   It’s like you can learn about your machine from the inside out.

Arriving at the Harvester Works, there are special parking spots for Gold Key Customers

Approaching the Visitor Center, you can see the remnants of the recent Quad Cities snow.

L to R. Stephen, our Gold Key guide; Colby, the supervisor of the Final Inspection area; and Russ, one of the technicians who makes sure there are no defects before the machines are shipped.

Inside the HW, we toured almost every aspect of the combine-building process.  We saw welders and fiber-optic lasers galore.  The painting process is amazing, as the components, big and small, are immersed in tanks of cleaner and primers.  The robots that apply two coats of that special green paint were very fast and efficient.   We saw the engines arrive from Waterloo, Iowa– just in time to be placed in the proper order for the assembly line.  The cab assembly was interesting and more complex than you can imagine.

The HW employees seemed to notice that visitors were around.  I cannot count the number of times we saw employees greet us and often say, “Thank You” to us.

John and I caught up with the 780 near the door where the combines go out to the ‘test track’ for their initial shake down.

At the final inspection station, inside the HW, Stephen presented us with the official Gold Key to the S780.

…and yes, it will work in the ignition to fire up the combine!

Later, we traveled with 2 other GK customers to the JD World Headquarters.  There, we toured the impressive building, and were treated to a terrific lunch.

John Deere World HQ, on John Deere Road in SE Moline, IL.

Once inside, we saw one of the many digital displays that made certain throughout the facility that the GK customers were warmly welcomed.

A chef prepared a delicious meal and dessert, just for the GK customers and our hosts. Salad, roast pork, and apple tart for dessert. Yum.

We made the trip back home Friday evening.   It was a special trip.  Let’s hope this new machine will have a long and happy time here at Carnahan & Sons!

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