Business & Policy
Keep it moving to make money
By Top Crop Manager
Augers are widely available in a range of models
By Top Crop Manager
Augers are widely available in a range of models, lengths and price points.
They have been on the scene since mechanized farming began in Canada. However,
like most industries, the need for increased efficiency has farmers, grain and
seed businesses looking at new technology. Higher capacity, low horsepower grainbelts
are getting great reviews from users and are an option for improving grain handling
"The features and benefits of augers in general are well known; producers
have been using them for years," confirms Don Henry, marketing manager
for Brandt Equipment. "If you are certain that an auger best fits your
grain movement needs, all you need to decide is which manufacturer offers the
most durable and reliable product with the right length and capacity, as well
as the horsepower you have available to run the auger."
There is some new technology on the market now; Palmerston Grain and C&M Seeds
are so convinced of the advantages, they have completely switched to grainbelts
and no longer operate any moveable augers in either operation.
Palmerston Grain was founded more than 20 years ago and is now the largest
handler of spring wheat in the province. It is in the grain brokerage and handling
business and operates one of the largest inland terminals in Ontario. The scale
of production has of course increased, while the margins have grown ever tighter.
The name of the game is efficiency. Time is money. In the grain handling business,
a company's ability to keep product moving has a huge impact on the bottom line.
The companies have a traditional elevator with a couple of million bushel storage
and on peak days can handle as much as 50,000 bushels or 35 semi loads. "There
are others that are big, but they don't have our segregation ability,"
says Archie Wilson, general manager of Palmerston Grain and C&M Seeds. "We
have the largest segregation capacity of over two million bushels or 60,000
They also have two affiliated satellite facilities, Hasta Farms near Listowel
and Shawridge Farms at Arthur, in addition to arrangements with the Port of
Prescott, Goderich, Owen Sound and Port Colburne, providing them the opportunity
to handle grain from customers across Ontario.
Receiving and delivering top quality products from and to customers is the
core of these businesses. System upgrades are made to ensure the efficiency
required to make money buying and selling seed. Part of their grain movement
facility upgrades include switching from augers to grainbelts or belt conveyors
where they needed high capacity, flexibility and the ability for absolute and
thorough clean-out when switching seed varieties, commodities or identity preserved
"It takes very little time and you can be sure the grainbelt is completely
cleaned out before handling a different commodity or variety," explains
Wilson. With the number of different seed varieties and different pedigrees
of seed that C&M Seeds handles, the switch from augers to grainbelts has been
key to ensuring purity and traceability.
Palmerston Grain and C&M Seeds use six Brandt grainbelt conveyors. Two of them
are 110 foot, 12,000 bushel per hour capacity with external power, giving them
a capacity they estimate at over 50,000 bushels per hour. That is capacity for
their business to grow into, not out of. "The high capacity of these belts
helps us turn trucks around very quickly and get them on their way during the
busy harvest schedule," says Wilson. Using the grainbelts in combination
with the 12,000 bushel per hour Brandt Driveover unloading system provides maximum
flexibility. "With the driveovers, we can dump any of our top quality products
into several different bins in the back without having an existing pit. The
advantage of that is huge – it gives us total flexibility."
The flexibility of a belt system is used in various sized parts of the business.
In the seed plant, a smaller self-propelled grainbelt is used to dump totes
into trucks for customers who want pedigreed seed in bulk, for varieties not
offered in the bulk load-outs. "We'll just dump the totes onto the grainbelt.
It's amazingly quick and efficient and allows us to provide the product the
way the customer wants it," explains Wilson.
In addition to purity, flexibility and speed of transfer at C&M Seeds, the
gentleness on the commodity is a smaller but important benefit, primarily for
soybean seed. Grainbelts also require less horsepower, making them safer, quieter
and more flexible. The self-propelled units operate without tying up a tractor.
All Brandt grainbelt conveyors in the Palmerston Grain and C&M Seeds systems
are also equipped with the EZTRAK system to eliminate maintenance concerns,
like belt slip and alignment.
There are no mobile augers in the seed plant nor in the elevator, explains
Wilson. "There are just the fixed augers in both the seed plant and the
elevator, but we don't have any portable ones that we move around." -30-