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Decoding Kubota Serial Numbers

Tags :  kubota  | 

Neil form Messick's here to share something significant that has happened in the Kubota world here recently. For years, this company has used a simple five-digit serial number for all of their equipment. That has been highly problematic for us. Even within a product family, that five-digit serial number can duplicate across equipment. You need a combination of both the full model code and the five-digit serial number to uniquely identify a machine. There are cases where we would punch in a serial number for a BX series tractor into our computer and come up with two different machines that have shared that same serial number. It was quite annoying.
Recently here though, Kubota has switched to a full 17-digit serial number and those digits mean things. Today, we're going to talk through the new serial number structure. Maybe that number that's on the side of your equipment is going to tell you something about your machine that you didn't know.
Now, if you've never gone looking for your serial number before, it's located on the front right-hand corner of your tractor, potentially in two different places. There is a sticker here that's printed on the front of the machine that has the serial number burned into it. If that sticker seems to come off of your machine as stickers often do, you'll find the number also stamped into the frame of the tractor. Again, we're looking on most machines towards the front right-hand side of the unit.
Now, explaining what these 17 digits mean is complicated. Several pages of paper here. There is some consistency across all of the models. We're going to work through the parts of the serial number here that are consistent globally across all equipment, and then talk about some of the specifics of particular models.
The first three digits are going to be an indicator for the company's business unit or engineering group, if you will. It's not a direct indicator of the factory, but it does start to look that way when you dive into it. There's only a handful of valid values here. Those are A5K, KBC, KBG, KBT, KBU, or in the case of some hey tools, I saw some ZPM and UKG. Again that refers to the business unit, the engineering department that's going through and manufacturing that piece of equipment. Searching through our system, I didn't find equipment that has every one of those variations on it, but there's definitely a lot of KBG here from the turf side and a lot of KBU that you're going to find on the tractors.
The fourth digit here is going to tell you what portion of the product line that piece of equipment is coming from. Now in a compact tractor that's going to go through and you're going to have individual digits here that are going to indicate that this is say maybe a B series tractor, or an M, or an L series tractor. It is not literally B, L, M, like you find on the side of the hood. These are probably more internal representations of exactly where in the product family this machine lies. Those first four digits, they're telling us, called almost the project identifier of that machine within Kubota.
We're going to jump down to some other digits here that are consistent across all models, so the 10th, 11th, and 12th digit. The 10th digit and the 12th digit tell us when that machine was manufactured, both the year and the month. We'll put up on the screen here exactly how to decode exactly what those digits mean. This is an interesting number to us because this isn't something that we could ever identify before. Tractors are not sold in model years.
The year of your equipment is considered the year that you bought it. On our end, there was actually never a way that we could tell you when a piece of equipment was manufactured. Now with the 17-digit serial number, we can actually do that. You can pick out the month and the year that the machine was produced out of that serial number. Again, if you're selling your tractor, or you're looking for something on the secondary market, we don't use those numbers as the year of the machine. The year is the original sale date of the unit.
Sitting there in the 11th digit, for some reason smack in the middle of the time that the machine was produced, is the factory that it was produced in. You've got an identifier in there that tells you what plant produced the machine.
Now, we're going to jump backwards here, back to digits five, six, seven, and eight. Those are referred to as a machine descriptor. What they mean is going to vary depending on exactly what product you're looking at. If we're looking at compact tractors, say majority of what Kubota is known for, in digit number five, you're going to have a series indicator, and that's going to show you iterations of a machine over time. Oftentimes in the full model number, you'll see a -1, -2, -3, as small changes are made during a machine's production run, that can now be identified here in the serial number as well, in the fifth digit.
The sixth digit is going to be an indicator about some kind of reference to the machine's horsepower. I don't know exactly how those are going to decode. I couldn't figure out by looking at the stuff that I had in stock, but that's what it says here in my paperwork. Number seven is going to tell you something about the type of transmission that's in that machine. Number eight is going to be a reference to whether it's ROPS or a CAB.
As you move across the rest of the product line, you have very similar things happen in other product series. Referring to the model number, the amount of horsepower that the machine has in somewhere or another in digits five, six, seven, and eight.
Digit number nine is what's referred to as a check sum. In the computer world, if you go through and do mathematical calculations on the rest of these digits, you're going to have a resulting answer that is stored in digit number nine. By running an algorithm on this serial number and comparing against that check sum digit in number nine, you're able to mathematically say whether there's been an error in one of these other digits. Digit nine doesn't mean anything to us, but it gives a way to verify that the serial number that we're looking at is correct.
Finally, the end of the serial number, digits 13 through 17, the five digits there at the end are our same old five-digit serial number that we have been used to using for decades. That number there at the end is a sequential number. Every machine that rolls off a production line, that number just increments up one at a time for every machine that rolls off.
One thing that's a little interesting is you can look at those numbers and get some kind of idea on how big the machine population is or where exactly your machine was in the production run. When I looked at two of the machines I had here on our lot, one of our RTV-X 1100s has a serial number up in the 75,000 range, referring to just how many RTV 1100s have been sold. On the converse side of that, I have a used round baler in stock right now, a BB 4180 with a serial number down at 169, meaning it would've been one of the first ones produced.
If you're looking for one of those late model type machines and you don't want to wait for one where the factory has gotten up the speed and gotten used to what they're producing, you're going to want to look for higher serial numbers rather than lower ones.
What can we learn about this tractor right here by looking at the serial number? We're going to start here at the beginning with KBU. That's going to tell us that this is out of the compact tractor engineering department. The first digit here is going to be a C, that tells us that this is a BX series tractor. The next identifier is going to be the series, and this is a number 1, so this is the first iteration of this tractor. The D is going to tell us that it's a reference to the horsepower. My hunch is that that D is a reference to the number of cylinders because in German, which is what they use to refer to their engine model codes, it's a three-cylinder engine.
The H here is going to tell us that it has a hydrostatic transmission. The R is that it's a ROPS machine and not a CAB. The K is our check sum number. Now here's where we get interesting, so the manufacturing year here is N, which tells us that this machine was produced in 2022, even though it just arrived here, and the month of that would've been M which was in December. We're sitting here January right now, so it would have been produced about six weeks ago, which is interesting. If we look at the factory that this came out of, this would be out of the N factory. D, E, F, G, H, I, J, K, L, N. There's a range here for what is KMA. G through H tells us that this is KMA, which I could have told you off the top of my head.
Then the last five digits here at the end, is our iterative serial number. Just that increment that happens of 84,131. There's a lot of the X 23s out there.
Maybe that tells you something about your piece of equipment that you didn't know already. This system has been in place now for probably about a year. Looking around our parking lot most of the equipment that's out here today does use this newer standard, although you do see the old five-digit number floating around in a lot of places too. That's often probably going to be our go-to number here for a while.
If you're shopping for a piece of equipment and we can help, or you got parts of service needs for a machine you've already got, give us a call here at Messick's. This is what we do.
We're available at 800-222-3373, or check out our website at messick' 

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