Construction of Tom Farms’ commercial-size grain storage facility started in 2008 with one bin. A second bin was added in 2009 and a third in 2010.
Semis unload and hit the road in under eight minutes
Four years ago, the crew at Tom Farms could run their combines for only a half day before they’d have to quit to let the 1,200-bu.-per-hour dryer catch up. Now the farm’s 2.25 million bushels of storage and 4,700-bu.-per-hour dryer keeps two combines running all day and handles deliveries from about 15 storage customers, with nary a pause.
"One day last fall, we took in 61,000 bu. of corn and 11,000 bu. of beans," says Kris Tom, who designed the system with his father, Kip, and Tim Yagel of Yagel Grain Systems, Columbia City, Ind. "We also loaded out 11,000 bu. of beans, which we accept here and move to another storage facility."
Building a commercial-size system for their Leesburg, Ind., operation ensures the Toms will never run short of room for their crops. Their facility includes three 750,000-bu. storage bins, a 28,000-bu. wet holding tank and two 5,000-bu. loadout tanks.
Automated drying. Designed for fast, convenient and gentle grain handling, the system features state-of-the-art technology, such as a Brock Quantum dryer controller.
The controller makes it possible for just two people—Kris and Greg Rowland, both of whom work for CereServ Agronomy & Grain, the farm’s commercial storage enterprise for grain and fertilizer—to operate the facility.
The controller anticipates the final moisture content of grain reaching a bin, then manages the moisture content as the grain passes through the dryer.
It matches the discharge speed of the grain to the capacity of the unloading system, automatically reducing the heat if it reaches the unloading rate limit.
"We dial in how much moisture to remove, and the controller adjusts the unload rate and burner temperature," Kris says. "When the dryer is running, it takes control of all the conveyors."
At the start of each day, the operators tell the controller which bins to dump into. The controller records the date the corn went in.
When the dryer is not operating, the operators use a separate control panel to turn the receiving leg, dry leg, two top conveyors and bin gates on and off. The receiving leg serves all three bins, the wet holding tank, the dryer and both loadout bins. The dry-grain leg takes dry corn away from the dryer.
The first 650,000 bu. of grain in each bin can be automatically unloaded. "A programmable logic controller [PLC] in the office opens the center gate of the bin," Kris explains. "When the loadout tanks are full, the PLC automatically closes the gate."
Rapid unloading is critical to the truck drivers. "They like to dump at the Tom facility because they can be gone in minutes," says Brock Grain Systems district sales manager Rich Geiser.
With the ability to dump both hoppers at once, using two pits—one for each hopper of the trailer—a driver can pull into the facility, unload and pick up his scale ticket in 7 to 7½ minutes. The actual unloading process takes 3 to 3½ minutes. "At our old facility, it took us 45 minutes to unload a truck," Kris notes.
- October 2011