Alberta-built roller condenses bag problem

Machine wraps 250 foot bags | Customer demand results in new device from Lethbridge company

Rolling up spent grain bags for transport is a bigger than usual problem this year as producers continue moving last year’s crop.

Kirchner Machine in Lethbridge has designed a bag roller that may solve the problem.

Dwayne Kirchner said his company has sold 100 rollers, with the pull type being the most popular.

He said he had not intended to go into the roller business until a local customer came in looking for one.

“He said he had an issue with all these grain bags piling up, and he wanted to roll them to make them easier to handle,” said Kirchner.

“He had seen the machine built in Argentina, but didn’t really want to buy that one. He knew we take on special projects, so he came to us. The first one we came up with was similar to the Argentine roller in the way it works.”

As a result, it was no surprise that the prototype had the same problem as the Argentine roller: it was difficult to pull the spike out of the roll once the bag was wound up.

The core would remain stuck in the middle and pull out with the spike, while the outer layers remained stationary.

The layers of the bag would telescope as the spike pulled out.

“It was like a Chinese finger trap. It only pulled out the centre. It made a real mess. I did some checking around and found other guys were also having the same issues with the spike on their Argentine machine,” he said.

“So we made a tapered spike. It’s 2.5 inches at the big end and 1.5 inches at the other end. It’s a solid shaft with half inch thick fins to hold the plastic when you start rolling. The spike pulls out very easily.

“Their machine was quite wide because of the way the hydraulic cylinder was mounted, so we changed that also. In total, we played around with this for a year before we had it working the way we wanted.”

Kirchner said the roller uses a 24 cubic inch hydraulic motor, so it needs more than a small yard tractor to wind up a 250 foot bag.

There have been no problems with loose or sloppy bags, he added.

“I wouldn’t say it’s super tight. When you roll them super tight, it’s a problem getting them off the spike. They’re just tight enough so they slip off the spike without a problem.”

Kirchner rollers wrap bags up to 250 feet in length and weighing up to 300 pounds. For longer bags, it’s a simple matter to cut them into two shorter sections.

The three-point hitch roller sells for $5,175. The skid steer loader unit sells for $5,375. The pull-type powered by tractor hydraulics sells for $6,250. The self-contained pull-type with a 13 horsepower industrial gas engine from China sells for $9,000.

“We can install a Honda if that’s what the customer wants. We don’t worry about these Chinese motors much because most bag rollers only run three or four hours a year.”

For more information, call 403-328-5568 or visit www.kirchnermachine.com.