Where is the industry heading?
by Westrup A/S,US
Since 1958, Westrup has been a member of the seed and grain processing community. During the past 60+ years we have followed developments in the industry closely and contributed our solutions to ensure that processing and conditioning plants could keep up with the ever-changing landscape.
We have seen improvements in genetics and the increase in yields putting a strain on most processing plants when the volume of incoming grain increased. Over the years, many smaller seed producing companies grouped into larger entities, which required processing facilities to put emphasis on efficiency to meet the larger capacity requirements.
With each new demand, we have always been able to support our customers, with the right solution for their challenges. More efficient elevators and belt conveyors were built, and we made sure to have a wide range of equipment to support customers with different capacity and processing needs. To this day, we can provide the solution our customers require to run a stable and profitable operation.
What is next?
What should be the focus now? Most companies offering seed conditioning and grain processing equipment have a wide range of machines. So how do you, as the end user, decide what company to choose?
Having followed the developments closely over the years, we know that we need to be able to provide more than just equipment! Your business environment changes constantly, so we do our best to foresee the challenges you might face and provide the solutions that will help you be one step ahead. This way, you will be able to meet your future head-on.
To answer the question on 'what is next?', we need to start somewhere else.
Curiosity has always driven the Westrup Team. Designing solutions that meet all requirements and exceed our customer's expectations is what motivates us. Here are three areas where we have set in to give you a one-up on your competitors:
In our in-house test centres, you can get your grain or seed tested. This is an important step in the process. By running a sample of product on our small-scale machines, we are able to provide customers with a detailed test report stating the machine combination and machine settings that allow them to achieve the best processing results – this is the first step towards a successful operation.
We also offer training sessions, because we know that understanding how your product reacts when processed is the second step towards running an efficient plant.
'We know that a seed is not just a seed and a grain not simply a grain – therefore we help our customers understand each process and teach how to evaluate the product and adjust the machines accordingly. This way, they will achieve the outcome they are looking for', says Anders Thorsted.
Training can also take place on site at your facility. Our trained Westrup service engineers will gladly assist your staff and teach them exactly how to adjust the settings to get the optimal outcome of the product.
Besides this, we offer preventive maintenance. When choosing this, we visit you during the off-season and give your plant a complete check-up. Repairs will be taken care of instantly and our service engineers will be able to report if there are certain issues you should be aware of. Emergency service is also available in case of breakdowns. We know how much downtime costs and do our best to minimise the chances of these occurring.
'In today's high-volume business and 'just in time' shipment of seed, the processing equipment must operate without problems or shutdowns. Therefore, we offer a number of service solutions, solutions that can be tailored to each customer's needs', says Kevin Kidwell, Country, Sales and Service Manager in the US.
We spend a lot of time developing new solutions to meet, what we believe, will be the future requirements for the seed conditioning and grain processing industry. Our work is driven by a desire to make an impact in your business.
And what do we believe are the future requirements for the industry? At Westrup we are certain that automation systems are the future in seed and grain processing. Having followed the developments over the years, we anticipate that the focus of both farmers and processing facilities is moving towards improving the quality of the prime product.
And with new seeds being developed constantly, the facilities need to be up to date on how to handle the machines and the incoming product to the tiniest detail. Extracting every seed and grain and minimising the amount of prime product found in the waste is therefore a high priority for many processing plants, as this will set them apart from competitors.
But how do automation systems solve this challenge?
An explorative influencer
Over the years, we have looked into automation solutions. We actually released the very first version of the Adaptive Aspiration Control back in the 1980s, just around the time the first computers were installed in most companies. Since then, we have developed a few more prototypes, but each time we reached the conclusion that the market was not ready.
'One area that occupies our customers in today's business is the need to incorporate what their customers need and demand with the new solutions possible in the industry. Adapting their companies and facilities to meet new challenges and keeping up with the latest trends allows them to thrive in today's business. The large conditioning facilities look at all stages of the process to optimise every single step, and being able to monitor the incoming product, the final outcome, and the product waste, are therefore important parameters for today's processing plants', says Anders Thorsted. The need for higher precision during conditioning and processing is therefore more essential now than ever.
This is backed up by Kevin Kidwell, who has also been following the changes closely. He concludes that automation is an area where processing facilities will focus their attention to provide their customers with the best solution. 'Adding controls that can allow the user to access data, utilise batch recipes and remote diagnostics make our customers more competitive' says Kevin Kidwell.
The latest technology: Automation
With this in mind, Westrup has developed and released one of the first automation systems for air screen cleaners – the Navigator 4.0 control system with the accompanying Adaptive Aspiration Control and the Intelligent Screen Management system. These systems allow you to manage not only the air velocity in their machines, but it also ensures correct screen placement in your screen cleaner. It also offers many more features that allows you to take full control of your operation.
How exactly do they work? With unstable weather conditions and new seed developments, controlling the quality of the grain up until it is harvested is not easy. After harvest, however, despite a possible drought or rainy season farmers do have choices to get the best out of their yearly harvest. Where to get their grain processed in the best possible way. And that is where our customers get involved.
'The days of the 'hand-crank window' are gone. We are driven by data analytics and Westrup machines now have the ability to provide critical data and KPI's that users are demanding as they modernise their processes. Also, automation offers access to batch recipes and process information right at the machine aiding the operator during changeovers', says Kevin Kidwell.
With our automation system, the Navigator 4.0, our customers are given easy access to machine settings, intelligent alarms, recipe management and cloud enabling. Having a recipe management system allows you to specify the settings for each type of grain you are processing and choose existing batch setups if required. The intelligent alarms make sure to warn you about issues that you should take action on, so you actively can secure as much uptime at your site as possible.
We can all benefit from new technology – that, of course, when it has been proven to have an effect. That is why we work closely with our customers and always test new solutions in cooperation with them to ensure that they create real value in everyday work tasks. The Navigator 4.0 solutions were no different. They have all been tested and approved by our customers.
A flexible achiever
Change is inevitable. Being flexible helps you manage change and ensures your operational stability. Having a system that allows all operators to understand and set up machines, no matter what product is being run, increases flexibility.
That is why we believe automation solutions are the future in seed conditioning and grain processing. They provide the extra flexibility needed to keep an operation going and increase uptime, and with the Navigator 4.0, operators can run a plant to the same standard as the experts. Our customers are able to monitor the performance of each machine - meaning, they can get the most out of the incoming product and the system will inform operators when service and preventive maintenance is required.
The benefits are manifold: you end up with a higher quality of the prime product, you waste less of the good seed and grain, your staff is more flexible, you get real time data that can be used for process optimization and you will have much less downtime and reduce the chances of having to re-run your product. What is not to like?