Factory tour: Inside Landini

By: Harrison Hunkin, Photography by: Harrison Hunkin

On a recent trip to the EIMA 2018 conference in Italy, machinery-obsessed Harrison Hunkin decided to take a closer look at how Italians make tractors

While you may not be immediately familiar with Argo Tractors, if you’re involved in the agricultural or contracting worlds, you would certainly know the company’s brands.

Argo headquarters from above

McCormick is one. Yes, the iconic American brand that was once a juggernaut is now Italian-owned. But the firm is also behind Landini, perhaps the most famous agricultural marque to come out of Italy.

I was lucky enough to enjoy a guided tour of Argo’s three main production facilities – to see just what goes on behind the scenes when it comes to creating tractors.

To get there, I had to venture into the region of Emilia-Romagna in Italy’s northeast – one of Europe’s manufacturing capitals, and home to automotive giants such as Ferrari, Maserati, Ducati, and Lamborghini. First stop was the newest Argo facility, in Luzzara – 55km north of Modena, for any geography buffs out there.

Not your average staff car park

This plant is fully dedicated to the production of Argo’s specialised tractors. Landini’s established orchard specialist, Rex, and now Rex 4 series tractors are produced here, as well as a few specialist McCormick tractors.

Argo was kind enough to open the doors and let me witness the production line at this facility, which is small compared to its other operations. I’d love to be able to tell you how many tractors roll off the production line here every month, but my Italian is atrocious and the managers’ English wasn’t much better. They’re certainly completing quite a few.

As expected, the factory was clean and well organised, but for me, a highlight was seeing manpower was still needed to get the job done, despite the impressive machinery.  Manufacturing plants are glorious viewing; it’s like clockwork inside as everyone goes about their business quietly but efficiently.

Inside the Argo reception area

Second visit was to Argo headquarters and the historical home of Landini, Fabbrico, 20km south. This old village totally surrounds the factory. To see such a large facility nestled inside a tiny Italian town is quite cute, something the Italians do very well.

Here, tractors from 80hp all the way up to the 300+hp McCormick X8 are manufactured. All factory areas are equipped with quality-control facilities. We arrived just as the lunch bell sounded, which meant we didn’t witness any work (typical), but I think that was a blessing, as it meant I was able to slowly wander through the production floor, examining Landini and McCormick tractors at different stages of their production lives. It was a fascinating experience.

Landini and McCormick tractors at the end of the production line

The R&D and engineering divisions are also located at the Fabbrico headquarters. Then, following an Italian countryside lunch, my final destination was further south – at Argo’s third production plant, in San Martino, where its crawler machines and medium-sized tractors are built.

The San Martino site is special for another reason as well. Argo also produces many components, predominantly transmission mechanisms, there. From all three facilities, Argo now has a total production capacity of more than 22,000 tractors manufactured and marketed under the brands of Landini, McCormick and specialised vineyard tractor marque Valpadana.

Inside the Fabbrico production plant 

Argo area manager Filippo Bassoli tells me that Landini’s history – which dates back to 1884 – has helped the company to create a far-reaching network of relations.

"Landini is recognised as a specialised, utility tractor and that’s also what the market recognises," Filippo says. "McCormick, however, is seen as the bigger, more-powerful brand, obviously due to its American roots." 

Landini’s history dates back to 1884

While they aren’t on the scale of a John Deere, for example, Landini, McCormick and Valpadana tractors make their way onto thousands of farms every year. Some of those I saw being made at the San Martino plant were destined for Australasia.

Argo is unique in the tractor market because it still makes its products on Italian soil, unlike many other manufacturers, which are nudging their production overseas.

McCormick D-Max with new cab

"We are very proud to still be Italian, to still operate out of where Landini was born," Filippo says. "It’s important to keep those origins alive. Where Landini, and now Argo, is based is quite strategic as it is a manufacturing and automotive heartland with lots of history.

"It is definitely something we like to push," he says. "We want to push that ‘Made in Italy’ [message], because the history and heritage of this region speak excellence in European manufacturing."

Another satisfied end-user

While it was a full-on day focused on tractors, the experience can’t quite translate onto paper – it’s an opportunity meant for eyes. Thanks for the tour, Argo… and for that meal!

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