Currently, standard grain bins are emptied through a combination of gravity and augers or bin sweep technology. However, with these methods, there’s always a remaining level of grain on the bin floor that needs to be swept out. According to GSI, it’s hard, time-consuming, dusty work that also can be dangerous if this chore is performed while an auger is still running.
GSI’s new, patent-pending FlexWave technology can eliminate this labor-intensive task. The system utilizes two large liners that alternately inflate and deflate, gently pushing the remaining grain into a centrally-located conveyor trough for removal, without the need to enter the bin.
A control system automatically senses the amount of grain and shuts off when the process has been completed.
“FlexWave technology results in 99% cleanout and eliminates the risk of entrapment from falling grain or auger entanglement since it is truly a zero-entry bin unload method,” said Greg Trame, GSI director of engineering.
Trame said FlexWave is also more reliable than conventional methods, since there are no exposed mechanical components. Another advantage is that perforated bin floors are eliminated, increasing capacity.
Each inflatable liner can unload more than 100 tons of grain using less than one psi of air pressure. The liners are constructed of durable, commercial-grade material designed to last over 30 years under normal conditions. In addition, they can easily be repaired in case of accidental puncture with a simple glue patch because of the system’s low-pressure operation, which is gentler on grain than traditional options, protecting grain quality and profits.
Traditional grain hopper tanks are emptied by gravity through a cone at the bottom. With FlexWave, a flat bottom storage tank may be used instead, which not only increases capacity but also eliminates the need to install legs since it can sit on the ground, GSI said.
“FlexWave technology is another unload option added to GSI’s complete product portfolio and can be used with any standard current unload system,” Trame said. “This technology is exclusive to GSI for grain storage and represents an exciting advancement that supports our commitment to continuous innovation.”
Field trials are under way, he said, to ensure proper aeration is maintained to provide long-term, safe storage. The first FlexWave offering is planned for 2018.
Trame noted there is a lot of potential for future applications with FlexWave, since any equipment that relies on a hopper cone for gravity-flow cleanout can benefit from this technology.