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This is where the VisoPlus cab of the 700 model is just perfect.

Gerhard Kogler & Harald Panzer, Road Inspection Body of the Scheifling road maintenance department, Austria - 700 Vario

This is where the VisoPlus cab of the 700 model is just perfect.

Two with a licence to carry out road maintenance

Gerhard Kogler and Harald Panzer have to be able to rely on each other. Their workplace is not entirely free of danger – both work where others like to step on the gas; on the street. To prevent putting themselves and other road users in danger, they work closely together: Harald Panzer puts up warning signs and keeps an eye on the road and traffic, while his colleague takes over the work at hand with a Fendt 718 Vario.

Gerhard Kogler is a driver with the Scheifling road maintenance department. For 22 years, he has kept the roads in Upper Styria in top condition and is responsible for their well-trimmed borders. For the past year, he has been using a Fendt 718 Vario for this work. “The 700 model is a comfortable workplace. Ease of use is important to me. And that includes the infinitely variable transmission. I have great view over the work space. I often have to go back and forward and visibility up and down is very important to me. And I always have to look out for passers-by and road users so as not to endanger anyone on the road while I work.” Today, Gerhard Kogler and colleague Harald Panzer are on the road with the Dücker front mower boom. As well as reservations, road signs and lighting, the pair also have to keep one eye on the moving traffic. “This is where the VisoPlus cab of the 700 model is just perfect. I have an excellent view of my mower looking down and to the side, because the cab window is continuous. And if I have to lift out the work equipment to get past road signs, I don't have to lean forward myself, because the cab window goes back into the roof,” says Gerhard Kogler. “The two large exterior mirrors means I can keep an eye on approaching road users and Harald."

Colleagues Kogler and Panzer from the Scheifling road maintenance department are on the road all year round. They have 320 km of road to look after. The highest point is in the Lachtal valley at a height of 1,600 metres, and the Tauern mountains at 1,200 m height make a nice change too. “In the summer, we start mowing at 5:30 a.m. In the winter, working hours can vary. We can start at 2 a.m. or not until the afternoon. It depends on the weather and snowfall. Whenever we are needed, and that includes weekends, public holidays or even at Christmas, we go out so that the local population and tourists can travel safely.”

Whether skiing in winter or hiking in summer – Austria is one of the most popular holiday destinations in Europe. Last year alone, the number of German holidaymakers increased by 5% to 56.26 million overnight stays in 2018 (source: Statistik Austria). But this also means that there is a lot going on on Austria's roads – cyclists and motorcyclists, cars and motorhomes. Gerhard Kogler and his Fendt 718 Vario are tasked with a whole range of different jobs. Which is why he's already done 800 operating hours on it in just one year. In the spring, the fences have to be transported back to the depot. In the summer – from May to October – the main work is mowing. The water barrel is used for cleaning, flushing channels and cleaning the pollutant basins of the tunnels. “In the winter, the Vario is used with a snow plough and snow blower. We have a few critical points in our area where there is heavy snow drifting. We know the places where it can quickly become narrow and icy,” says the native Styrian. “Especially in the ski resorts, the tractor comes into its own. It's very manoeuvrable and fast at intersections, in parking areas and in the chicanes. I couldn't work like that with a truck, it wouldn't be manoeuvrable enough.”

It all started with a Fendt Xylon

Before Kogler got his new Fendt 700 Vario a year ago, he drove a Fendt Xylon for 20 years. “The Xylon ran very smoothly and lasted forever. It's now done 18,000 working hours. I always loved driving it, so I wanted to have another Fendt again.”

When a new acquisition was coming up, local dealer Mario Perchtold was contacted to test drive a new Fendt tractor. “The drivers check and test the machines and can of course tell us their preferences,” says Arnold Hansmann, Deputy Road Master of the Scheifling road maintenance company, explaining the selection procedure. “The Plant Manager can approve the request after testing the machine. However, the final decision is made at the headquarters in Graz, so we always need to present sound economic arguments."

(from left) Dealer Mario Perchtold, driver Gerhard Kogler, road inspector Harald Panzer and the deputy road master Arnold Hansmann of the Scheifling road maintenance department.

This includes the local dealer. He is the direct contact for technical queries or problems. Because one thing we all agree on is that the machines have to keep running. “We have worked really well with ACA Perchtold for over 20 years,” says Arnold Hansmann, confirming the good relationship between the council and the dealer. “Let's say there's a problem on a Sunday morning at 4 a.m. If a wheel rim is broken, they will take care of the replacement there and then."

Harald Panzer collects the warning signs and stows them on the tractor. Traffic safety is always about protecting ourselves and other road users. “He's my police escort,” laughs Gerhard Kogler as his colleague swings into the passenger seat of the cab. For today, the mowing work is done and the team of two go back to their road maintenance depot.