Based on this feedback, Salford immediately began planning how it could integrate the 8600 air boom system with the MagnaSpread Ultra hopper and chassis at its Ontario headquarters and R&D center. It also began looking for a western Canadian customer it could partner with for running the initial prototype.
Through the territory manager for the area, Glenn Herperger, Sharpe's Soil Services Ltd. in Moosomin, Sask. showed interest in the tool for commercial application. The machine would provide a much higher capacity than a commercial floater truck (480 cu-ft stuck capacity vs. 350 cu-ft on a standard floater truck), it can do 14 mph with 66-foot booms which translates into 100 acres an hour, and it would come at a fraction of the cost of a floater truck which typically range from $400,000 to $500,000 or more. Sharpe's agreed to take delivery of the first prototype for use in their fleet for the fall 2015 application season.
"We completed the design and construction of the first prototype last summer with minimal modification to the MagnaSpread Ultra chassis. The two technologies married together well," said project manager Brad Baker. "We were also able to use much of the existing hydraulics package from the Ultra. It was even ISObus ready, using a Tee-Jet IC-18 ISObus controller that was already offered with the MagnaSpread Ultra."
Before delivery, Salford performed testing on the basic functionality of the prototype at its Ontario plant. This included verifying the tool could produce consistent output across the boom swath and the target minimum and maximum rates specified up front could be attained. It also included running the unit in the field to observe boom stability and energy transfer from the frame to the boom over rough terrain.
Once Salford was satisfied with the initial tests and observations, it transferred the unit to Saskatchewan to begin field trials with Sharpe's. After the fall season with Sharpe's, Salford moved the prototype for field trials elsewhere in Saskatchewan to ensure it was tested with an array of customers with different needs.
"Salford is evaluating the product for potential production in the near future," said Geof Gray, CEO of Salford Group Inc. "It will slot in above the 8600 product line as the flagship series of air boom applicators."
"I am most proud because it is one of the best examples of the combined efforts of Salford, Valmar and BBI as one coherent, collaborative and innovative organization," he continued.