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April 11, 2018 | Arlette Sambs

Tech Focus

Technology continues to advance and amaze the industry

A friend of mine recently added an Amazon Alexa enabled device to his home. While he uses it to check the weather, get sports scores and play jazz, his 5-year-old granddaughters drive him crazy when they take turns asking Alexa to play various songs. They give Alexa five to 10 seconds between requests, he says, and pretty soon he is either leaving the room or pulling the plug.
Despite this user-related issue, using Alexa reminds him of the old (ancient?) show “Star Trek,” where they simply said “computer” and the machine responded. That show debuted in 1966 — over half a century ago! Some prescient science fiction writer was predicting voice-to-machine-response technology.
We might not quite be that far with feed and grain facility automation — at least not yet — but it is amazing to see how rapidly automation has progressed for grain handling and feed manufacturing. It wasn’t all that long ago when integrating a new micro ingredient machine presented technological challenges, yet that was a great leap from measuring and hand-scooping products into a mixer.
Roughly three decades later, the number of systems and facility functions that one person can operate and monitor from a control room reflect not only important advances in machine and systems technology but significant savings in labor along with improvements in efficiency, customer service and product quality. Moreover, now integrating systems to deliver real-time data from multiple facilities as part of an enterprise resource planning network provides even further improvements in decision-making and profitability.
This continuous advance is why our April/May issue focuses on technology. Almost every facility we feature in our cover stories, whether new construction or a facility upgrade, talks about desired business outcomes supported by investments in machines and systems that help people run and monitor the equipment and the facility.
Just as facilities strive for continuous improvement, so do we! We’ll continue to provide focus on facility improvement and important technologies for your business. And we always appreciate your input. Feel free to stop and chat at an industry event, give us a call or send an email. We listen and respond!
Finally, I want to emphasize again how much we appreciate the time and attention you invest in reading what we deliver in print, online and your inbox. If you’re not receiving our daily newsletter, please take a minute and sign up on our website (
One last special announcement from the Feed & Grain team: Elise Shafer, our editor, and her husband have a new baby girl. Emery Kathryn Joy was born at the end of February. Everyone is doing well!

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