We travelled to Rouen, headquarters of France’s North West Interdepartmental Road Directorate, to meet users of Valtra tractors and Noremat implements. DIR Nord-Ouest is one of 11 French road directorates and is responsible for maintaining over 1000 kilometres of roads and highways in Seine-Maritime, Somme, Eure, Orne, Oise, Indre-et-Loire, Eure-et-Loir, Loir-et-Cher, Manche and Calvados.
Its practical tasks include cutting grass, pruning roadside trees and essential maintenance mainly during the summer from May to October. During the winter months, it prevents slippery conditions by salting and clearing snow. The road directorate also has tasks that may seem unexpected, such as monitoring roads to help prevent accidents and maintain traffic safety.
DIR Nord-Ouest operates a fleet of 1000 vehicles, 750 of which are registered for highway use. Marc Reze is responsible for managing this fleet.
“We have an annual budget for systematically replacing the oldest machines, including one or two tractors a year. We buy directly from UGAP, the French public purchasing body. The new tractors go to Noremat for assembly and then to the dealer to be prepared for use. The tractors are delivered directly to the operation centre to which they will be assigned, ready to use,” Reze explains.
Since UGAP started working with Valtra, DIR Nord-Ouest reassessed what kind of tractors are optimal for their use. Altogether, it has a fleet of 40 tractors ranging in out-put from 90 to 200 horsepower. The oldest tractor in the fleet dates back to 2003 and has more than 9000 hours. Their Valtra fleet consists of 7 tractors, comprising six N134 HiTech and one N174 HiTech. They are all equipped with a 2.3-metre Noremat mower at the front and a rear-mounted reach arm mower with a boom ranging from 5.50 to 8 metres.
“We need reliable, robust and comfortable tractors because we work constantly with heavy loads. They have to cope with up to five tonnes over the righthand wheels when the boom is extended,” Reze says.
New emissions, brake and weight standards have also influenced the choice of machinery, particularly the gross weight rating for mower vehicles. The French Road Directorate chose Valtra in part because it offers the highest gross weight rating in this size of tractors, but also because of Valtra’s unique features, such as TwinTrac reverse-drive system, reversible fan blades, polycarbonate glass and block-pattern tyres – all of which are factory fitted.
“The reversible fan blades are a perfect option when working in dusty conditions. Furthermore, they are delivered on the tractor, so we waste no time in setting up,” Reze adds.
Noremat and Valtra Unlimited team up
“It is life changing how much more comfortable it is than my old tractor. It isn’t too big, it is very stable and manoeuvrability is better. It’s easy to get used to, even if it has only been a month since it was delivered. The cab is very spacious and has a lot of room. I can also programme my forward and reverse speeds before working,” says Guillaume Oger, one of the drivers of the N174 HiTech.
“If I could have had this tractor when I was a driver, it would have been a luxury,” adds Sylvain Prouet, the team leader in Rouen.
All service and maintenance are performed by local Valtra dealers.
“We get along well with the dealers, which is important because all our machines are maintained by them,” confirms Marc Reze.
The Valtra-Noremat combo is very much appreciated by DIR Nord-Ouest. Ordering directly from the public purchasing body UGAP facilitates decision-making, ordering and deliveries, as the tractors and implements are delivered directly to the centres where they will be in operation. Together, Valtra and Noremat form the perfect partnership for maintaining the green spaces on the roadsides in the north west of France.