Photo: Grain Weevil

Mar 28, 2022

Can Technology Improve Grain Bin Safety?

Chad Johnson with Grain Weevil says it can

Chad Johnson, CEO with Grain Weevil, says technology in and of itself will not improve safety, but it will give you the data to be safer. Johnson spoke Monday morning during an Innovation Station at GEAPS Exchange 2022 in Kansas City.

Johnson used the example of telematics on your trucks that might be able to control the speed you’re going, but the most important aspect is the decisions you’re making to improve safety with the information you receive from the telematics.

“It's all about how you make your decisions,” says Johnson. “How do you implement the technology? How do you hold people accountable when you have the data showing unsafe behavior?”

Johnson says the information you receive from technology could be millions of data points from each facility covering everything from temperature cables to CO2 sensors and more.

“We have all kinds of data, but what do we do with it?” he asks.

Johnson’s company has developed a tool, the Grain Weevil, which is a grain bin safety and management robot that directly engages the surface of the grain.

“Grain bins are dirty, dangerous workplaces,” says Johnson. “We keep that farmer with a shovel out of the bin by leveling, breaking crusts, doing inspections and feeding grain into the extraction augers.”

Johnson says the best type of technology automates tasks that humans don’t want to do or shouldn’t do.

“No human wants to go into a grain bin,” says Johnson. “They're nasty. They're hot, and they’re miserable.”

The Grain Weevil has been performing on-farm trials since last July, including participating in several harvests.

The company is hoping to have commercial availability very soon.

“The challenges of labor shortages, OSHA requirements, large volumes of moving grain lends itself to developing a robot for the commercial side of grain handling,” Johnson says. “Hopefully we can build this robot to meet all of those challenges.”

Watch the Grain Weevil in action.

Lisa Cleaver

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