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6 reasons to upgrade your automation system now

Automation connects all processes at a grain handling or feed milling facility together, reducing downtime and improving efficiency.

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The pace of today's changing technology moves quickly and it's easy to get lost in the day-to-day operations and fall behind. Automating your facility -- or upgrading those automation systems -- is key to staying competitive.

For both grain and feed milling facilities, automation connects all processes at a facility together, triggering one after the other to reduce unnecessary downtime or lags in the overall flow of the facility.

"This reduction in manual decision making allows the facility to reduce overall time for certain processes by several minutes which all adds up day to day," said Brady Gaalswyk, co-president with Easy Automation. "The improvement in efficiency and productivity is seen almost immediately and can be tailored down and adjusted for each facility as needed."

Gaalswyk listed these top six benefits for upgrading your automation system now:

  1. The ability to run a facility at max efficiency rather than manual operation which can only run as efficiently as the operators who are present.
  2. When long-term employees decide to retire or move on from the system, the learning curve of a new employee on a system with automation is significantly less than that of a manual system.
  3. Automation allows the facility to run with less people and therefore there is less overhead when it comes to labor.
  4. Automation can be safer overall for employees with less trips up a leg or in a loadout catwalk. These processes can now be monitored from screens in an office or a safer location.
  5. Automation can provide enhanced traceability for facilities who are collecting data and using that data to trace medications, shipments, or organic type feed. The ability to trace loads through data collected automatically is a significant time savings and benefit.
  6. For animal feed facilities specifically, the accuracy of batching significantly increases with the use of automation. 

For grain facilities, the improvement in efficiency and productivity is seen most significantly in maintenance and safety areas. "Automation can shut down parts of the facility properly if a bearing temperature is too high or the amps reach an unsafe level on a piece of equipment," said Gaalswyk. "The system being able to detect and shut down equipment ahead of major maintenance downtime events increases efficiency, productivity, and overall safety at a facility."

For feed mills, the improvement shows the greatest impact in accuracy and traceability. "With the implementation of high-tech scales and variable frequency drives (VFDs) on augers, we can measure out ingredients accurately down to very small inclusion amounts," noted Gaalsywk.

"We can also fine-tune weigh-up times overall and shave off seconds for each batch which turn into minutes each day," he added. "Secondly, the ability to lot track and trace ingredient and medication inclusions into batches automatically with data collected through automation is significant. This manual process before now is automated and records can be retrieved in a matter of seconds instead of tracking down a pad of paper."

For automation system selection tips and considerations, check out the October/November 2023 issue of Feed & Grain.

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