Make Your Smart Phone Smarter

08:02PM Dec 17, 2009
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Margy Fischer, Farm Journal Machinery Editor
There are tens of thousands of apps (applications) available for smart phones. They range from games, to news, to tools, and if you look carefully, you'll see at least one made specifically to help farmers.
Neil Mylet farms with his father in Indiana. Since he can remember, he's helped haul grain, but his allergies were commonly aggravated in the dusty environment.
"I was usually the guy who got to motion [trucks into position], and that's how the idea came to pass," he says.
A recent agricultural economics graduate from Purdue University, Mylet returned to the farm and merged his passion for farming with his interest in technology and created the LoadOut App, a process that allows you to visually monitor the grain loading process from the truck seat.
The system connects a mounted camera system with control box and an Apple iPhone or Touch. There's more to the concept than saving a few steps. Mylet designed the process of using the system with safety and convenience in mind.
"The process of loading grain is automated from the truck seat," he says. "It allows them [the driver] to visually monitor the loading process, and control the on/off flow of grain all from the mobile device in a secure fashion,"
Upon arrival at the grain site, the yellow control box has to be turned on. Then once in place the user pulls up the app on their phone and logs in to the grain site's identification. One touch and the system begins to load grain into the truck.
There are built-in safety measures. "If they hit the home button, the system will automatically shut off, so they can't multitask and can't answer a call when system is running," Mylet says.
Mylet reports there's little to no delay from the time the operator hits stop to the time the grain flow is stopped. It isn't connected over a cell phone signal–it has a secure connection with the yellow box. The yellow box and camera are positioned on the bin that it can see in the back of the truck.
"In theory, they [drivers] should never have to be outside in the dust, noise and adverse weather," Mylet says. "And they can do the process alone, so the job only requires one person's time."
This fall, Mylet brought his project to his family's farm to test it. They used it on two grain sites, which both had the system installed. All five grain truck drivers were given Touches with the app downloaded to them.
"One site has an overhead bin with a gravity system, and the other has a side auger. Loading at both sites used to be a two person process."
He says at their main site, they move 600,000 bu. during a year. "The first couple of days, the drivers were hesitant. But now, they use their Touches for more functions," he says.
Mylet says the Touches keep their battery charge for an entire day, and the drivers have cases to protect them from the harsh environment around the farm.
Mylet's LoadOut app is available for free. The only investment is in the hardware used for the system. "It's easy. It's efficient. It improves your safety," he says. "For those who own the sites, it keeps the employees safe. Everyone can work better and work more safely."
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You can e-mail Margy Fischer at [email protected].