"What's new?" in grain storage and handling equipment

by Teresa Acklin
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The 70th annual international technical conference and exposition of the Grain Elevator and Processing Society offered grain elevator managers an in-depth look at the latest technical advances in equipment for grain storage and handling. A summary of the 13 products presented at the "What's New?" idea exchange program at GEAPS Exchange '99 in Tampa, Florida, U.S., follows.

      Explosion protection

   Explosion suppression systems from Industrial Protection Devices, Inc., Minneapolis, Minnesota, U.S., deliver extinguishing agents into rapidly developing fires to suppress them before they reach destructive proportions. A typical system consists of a unitized sensor, a power supply module, a system monitor and several "cannons." The cannon propels the extinguishing agent into the developing fireball of an explosion to extract heat. The IPD explosion suppression system has been engineered not only for the protection of process equipment, but also to safeguard personnel who must install and maintain the safety system. System lockout features assure maintenance personnel that there will be no accidental or process triggering of the system during maintenance. The lockout has provision for attaching a standard OSHA padlock device.

      Tri-lobe blower

   The new Three-Lobe Blower from Blower Engineering, Lewiston, New York, U.S., incorporates two special profile rotors arranged in a custom-designed cylinder housing. This combination drastically reduces pulsations and sound pressure levels, which reduces overall operating noise levels and strain on the distribution piping. Added advantages of the new three-lobe design include higher maximum speed and longer bearing life. The new three-lobe blower was designed to be interchangeable with the company's two-lobe blowers. Both products are manufactured with oversized steel shafts and bearings, wide helical-cut gears, non-contacting air and oil seals, and heavy cast construction. The new three-lobe blower also requires less horsepower to produce the same performance as current blowers.

      Bulk weighing system

   The Multi-Precision Bulk Scale system from Gamet Manufacturing Co. features a new dual hopper weighing program. The two independent weighing cells are alternately loaded with product; once the first cell is full, the other begins to fill while the first stabilizes, weighs, dumps and readies itself for the next cycle. The Multi-Precision Bulk Scale can be used in bulk loading of transport vessels, weighing of incoming product, pre-weighing for blending and mixing and process scale systems. The low profile, compact design saves on space and installation costs. Gamet, a division of Seedburo Equipment Co., is based in St. Paul, Minnesota, U.S.

      Bucket elevator monitoring

   The Watchdog "Elite" system introduced by 4B Elevator Components Ltd., East Peoria, Illinois, U.S., uses the latest solid state electronics and fail-safe design principles to ensure accurate and reliable safety monitoring for bucket elevators. Belt alignment, belt speed, bearing temperature, pulley alignment and plugged conditions are monitored using dual microprocessor control with the latest PIC microprocessors and non-volatile memory chips. An LCD screen displays elevator status messages in four languages, and a bright LED display shows belt speed. Calibration and set-up parameters are accessed via a password and front panel touch buttons.

      Concrete dome storage

   Although concrete dome storage has been around for thousands of years, it is becoming increasingly popular in bulk storage markets needing high-volume storage of from 500,000 to 3 million bus (13,600 to 82,000 tonnes). The reinforced concrete storage dome from Domtec International, Idaho Falls, Idaho, U.S., can be fitted with aeration or conditioning systems, thermal cooling equipment and mechanical or pneumatic product reclaim systems. The insulative properties of the dome help prevent unwanted temperature cycling, condensation and insect activity, Domtec said. One of the most durable structures built, concrete dome storage typically costs about U.S.$1 per bu.

      Elevator buckets

   Bucket life and capacity are the two most important factors when selecting an elevator bucket. Less than 10% of buckets last over five years in terminal applications, and broken or worn buckets are the most common reasons for replacement. Tiger Tuff elevator buckets from Maxi-Lift, Inc., Dallas, Texas, U.S., have thicker walls and corners to resist wear, tear and impact, and last up to 30% longer than many other elevator buckets. Maxi-Lift's larger size buckets (16x10, 18x10 and 20x10) can handle capacities from 15,000 bph to 21,000 bph, improving operational efficiency with increased capacity and throughput.

      Hazard monitoring system

   The ScanCenter LX hazard monitoring system from The Rolfes Co., Danville, Iowa, U.S., uses a high-speed digital temperature sensor to achieve unparalled speeds of greater than four readings per second with an accuracy of plus-or-minus 1 degree F. The system reads industry standard type-T thermocouples and any combination of thermocouples and digital sensors in either probe, surface mount or rub block style. Diagnostic and problem alerts, including sensor fault warnings and sensor resistance readings for thermocouples, are built into the unit. Audible warnings and alarms also may be printed to a serial printer, logged to a personal computer or used to trigger a PLC input.

      Grain processing software

   GrainSMART, a software program designed by dbtSMARTsoftware, Inc., Kitchener, Ontario, Canada, is the only full-function, Windows-based, client/serve commodity management application for the grain and food processing industry. Grain-SMART allows a commodity trader, procurement officer or merchandiser to complete contract templates or compose originals with the benefit of a split-screen interface to current commodity market services. With a few keystrokes, commodities brought into a grain elevator, terminal or processing facility can be interfaced with common electronic scales and a ticket produced. Commodity sales and merchandising activities also can be implemented.

      Grain bin unloader

   Grain bin clean-out work is no longer needed with Clean Sweep, a hopper bin sweep auger unloader from Laidig Industrial Systems, Mishiwaka, Indiana. Designed for hopper bins that tend to have bridging problems, the Clean Sweep fits in most bin layouts and designs and eliminates the need for most front-end bin loaders. The hopper bin unloader can be used in total cleanout inventory control, to eliminate product segregation and to help eliminate mold. The unit also meets high-starting torque requirements and decreases manpower requirements. Laidig unloaders can be retrofitted into existing structures to solve flow problems.

      Truck/track data management system

   The GMS SmartRead data management system from CompuWeigh Corp., Cheshire, Connecticut, U.S., automatically reads rail car numbers off the side of the cars, putting an end to walking the track and manual entry of rail car numbers. Over 97% of all U.S. rail cars have radio frequency tags on each side, which SmartRead automatically reads into a specially designed grain management system. CompuWeigh's SmartCar database will calculate the amount of grain needed to fill the car, eliminating spilled grain, and completely manages seal numbers. No data entry is required, avoiding clerical errors.

      Diverter system

   During the pneumatic transfer of dry materials, material often needs to be diverted or re-routed from one source or destination to another. Problems arise when a choice of multiple sources and destinations are needed. Multi-Port Diverters from Salina Vortex Corp., Salina, Kansas, U.S., completely automates the transfer of dry material from multiple sources to multiple destinations. Custom-built valve assemblies operate under complete computer control, making pneumatic conveying a "point and click" procedure. The Multi-Port Diverters are available in 2-inch through 6-inch tube and pipe line sizes.

      Dockage removal

   The Mega Cleaner from Cimbria Bratney Co., Des Moines, Iowa, U.S., is designed to precision clean wheat at high capacities, removing up to 80% of riddle dockage (including wild oats, jointed goat grass, chess, wheat heads and white caps) without a significant investment in cylinder machines. The system allows the grain bed to stratify over the sifting screens first, removing the under dockage. Riddle dockage is concentrated into 10% of the flow, which is removed over the secondary near size scalp screen and flowed into a heid cylinder machine for reclamation of large wheat. The Mega Cleaner will meet new maximum dockage levels of .5%.

      Round bin aeration system

   Using square pit aeration systems in a round grain bin allows aeration of only 33% of the bin floor. With the CircAir aeration system from Westeel, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, the bin operator has the choice of aerating from 33% to 76% of the bin floor. Greater coverage means more efficient aeration and faster drying. Because load stress is equally distributed, the CircAir is more durable than square pit aeration systems that can crack and deteriorate at the corners. The CircAir round pit aeration system features flush-mounted flashing and a level floor that does not restrict use of bin sweeps for easier bin clean-out.