With proper maintenance, it’s not uncommon for grain cleaning machines to last 30 years or longer, but those looking to improve efficiency may need to upgrade equipment to newer models that run at higher rpm “In the 1970s and ‘80s grain cleaners worked at about 130 rpm and over time they went to 180. Now buyers seek cleaners that achieve 300 rpm because of the customer’s need to increase capacity,” Jackson says.
If an equipment upgrade is out of reach, there are maintenance measures that can be taken to ensure the longevity of your current grain cleaning system. Knoedler recommends checking the oil levels often in models older than 10 years. He says listening to the equipment and recognizing “off” sounds can help a grain cleaner avoid problems. “People assume everything is going right simply based on whether the product is coming out. You should get used to listening to it once daily; if you’re next to a machine the only sound you should hear is the material on the screen. It’ll sound like a water fall and shouldn’t be louder than a washing machine,” Knoedler says.
Nearly all of today’s grain cleaners run constantly, and require maintenance similar to a vehicle. Parts will need lubricating and replacing, irregular noises should be questioned, and shutting off the machine for maintenance is occasionally necessary.
Schmidt says Rotex’s most successful equipment owe it all to a good maintenance team. “Many of our customers don’t like to shut down very often and will only do so once a year. Keeping a proper maintenance schedule can help them avoid shutdowns. For example, extreme wear takes place on the linings and they need yearly maintenance. Discharge hoppers need annual inspections as well. The typical operation should replace their screens twice per year. Keeping track of when these maintenance activities are done could extend the life of your equipment to 25 to 30 years,” Schmidt says.
Many factors relate directly to grain quality, most of which are defensive measures. Grain cleaning is one of a few things a terminal can do to proactively improve the quality of their product. By first determining your dockage, then creating a system around the dockage’s shape, size or weight, a grain cleaning operation can consistently provide the end user with grain that will meet any specifications.