The third version of the LevAlert E-Z Eye indicator helps farmers keep both feet solidly on the ground when checking levels in grain bins
FARGO, N.D. — Climbing grain bins to check levels is a nasty and dangerous business, especially at this time of year. Even a secure circular stairway can get icy and lead to accidents.
Simple non-digital bin level indicators have been on the market for at least 30 years, but their acceptance by Canadian prairie farmers has been slow, according to Brian Trangsrud of the LevAlert company in Roseau, Minnesota.
Trangsrud said semi-trailer trucks run regularly from Roseau to Winnipeg, but they’ve never carried a lot of his bin level indicators. He expects that will change with the introduction 11 months ago of the company’s new model 9700. The first LevAlert E-Z Eye indicators debuted in 1986, the second generation Model 760 came out in 1992 and Model 9700 came to market in January 2018.
“With each new design, we listened to what farmers told us and incorporated their suggestions,” said Trangsrud, adding that sales numbers rise as the models evolve and improve.
“But the concept remains the same. There’s no electricity involved. It’s all mechanical. A flexible activator inside the bin is pushed toward the bin wall by the granular material, turning the indicator on the outside of the bin bright yellow. When the material recedes, the indicator resets itself to black. This device can also trigger an exterior micro switch.”
It allows a farmer to instantly check his bin levels while standing on the ground from as far away as 400 feet, day or night. The indicator and concept remain the same, but there’s so much more a farmer can do now by connecting to his bin management software through a micro switch.
“This optional micro switch connects to a relay,” Trangsrud said.
“Now the 9700 can trigger a light or buzzer, trigger a text message or call to your smartphone, send a message to your computer, turn augers on and off. If you’re in livestock and have auto feeders, it can tell you when the bin is close to empty. If you have remote bins, it can tell you if someone’s loading grain when they shouldn’t be. You can wire it so it’s normally open or closed, you decide.”
He said all electrical hookups are at the relay at ground level. The 9700 is strictly a mechanical device that doesn’t require an electrical power source, so there’s no risk of igniting grain dust. The micro switch port is moulded into the indicator body.
“It’s a hermetically sealed indicator. Rain or hail can’t damage it,” he said.
“On the outside it’s mounted tight and sealed against the bin wall, so no moisture penetrates the bin. On the inside, the activator is also mounted tight against the bin wall so no grain gets behind it. That eliminates the possibility of getting a false indication that might occur from spreaders filling the bin.”
Most customers have been farmers, but Trangsrud said the new 9700 design makes it applicable for industrial uses such as pellets, fertilizer, minerals, dry chemicals, sand, salts and powders.
It can be added to corrugated or flat-walled bins and can be installed in five minutes from outside the bin by drilling a single 1 1/8 inch diameter hole.
The retail price is US$139 and carries a five-year warranty.