Mobile field bin provides surge capacity

Manufacturer says the Vale Grain Giant helps make harvest safer by reducing truck driver panic during busy times in the field

Saskatchewan-based Vale Industries expanded its grain storage offerings to include a mobile field bin that’s based off an Australian product.

Clark Behrns, engineering manager at Vale Industries, said there are multiple manufacturers of mobile field bins in Australia, which helped him and his colleagues decide the technology would also have a fit in Canada.

“We felt that instead of reinventing technology, or reinventing the wheel, let’s partner up with someone who has already done it and bring their technology here and save the multiple year process to get it fine-tuned,” Behrns said.

This summer, Vale built two units to the technical specifications of GrainKing’s chaser bin, which are being demonstrated on farms throughout Saskatchewan this harvest.

The Vale Grain Giant is a 6,500-bushel mobile field bin that may look like a giant grain cart, but it serves a much different purpose.

“It’s a surge bin. What that means is that it gives you that capacity in the field for something unexpected. A breakdown with a truck or if you’re hauling to a grain terminal and you’re delayed, you’re not having to race back. Your cart can dump into the bin and your combines can keep rolling,” Behrns said.

Operators set the mobile bin on a field by lifting up its wheels with the tractor’s hydraulics.

Behrns said the bin helps make harvest safer.

“You can have two loops in the field. You have your combine cart loop and you have your field bin and trucker loop, and they can be totally independent,” he said.

“Truckers also don’t have to panic or drive aggressively if they aren’t quite keeping up to the combines. They can catch up in the morning when the combines aren’t running,” Behrns said.

“Instead of having two truckers you can have one and they can catch up in the morning. Or have two most of the day, one goes home after supper and they can catch up in the morning.”

An important feature of the mobile bin is the wireless-remote control that enables truckers to load themselves. Other than hopping in the tractor to turn the power take-off on and off, they will be able to load from the truck cab.

He said the mobile field bin fit on many different kinds of farms.

For instance, smaller farms with limited manpower can fill the bin in the day and evening and empty it in the morning.

It’s also handy for producers with land a considerable distance from their bin yard, and for those who use custom trucking to haul grain directly to the terminal.

“A large farmer couldn’t keep up with one cart to five combines. When they didn’t have something consistent to dump into. Now the cart can take 400 bushes from five combines, get them all empty, dump and come right back and not have to wait on a semi,” Behrns said.

The Grain Giant can also be used to blend grain.

For instance, damp grain from when combining is just getting going in the early afternoon, as well as the last few loads from the evening can be dumped on one side of the bin, and dry grain dumped on the other side.

“This bin could be placed in a yard site, and in that yard site they have two bins close enough with two augers. One auger is dumping dry in the front and the other auger is dumping wet in the front, or vice-versa, and you’re discharging out of this bin into your super-b mixed,” Behrns said.

Inside the bin are two grain doors controlled by electronic actuators that regulate how much grain flow will make it down to the 12-inch sweep auger that is stretched the length of the 50-foot bin.

“It has a discharge rate of zero up to 550 bushels per minute. That’s a maximum. The feedback we’re getting is that’s way too fast. That 200-300 bushels per minute is more than enough to comfortably fill a semi,” Behrns said.

GrainKing said a 180-horsepower tractor is the smallest that should be used to comfortably power the mobile grain bin, while Behrns said if a smaller tractor is used the discharge rate will just be slower.

The bin weighs in at 46,000 pounds empty but the tongue weight is less than 10,000 pounds, which means it can be moved with a semi.

Hydraulic brakes are an option, which the company recommends, especially if a smaller tractor will be used to move it.

Vale Industries recommended transport speeds when it’s pulled with a semi shouldn’t exceed 70 to 80 km-h.

“We got the guys to tell us that they had it over 100 km-h when they were in a rush late at night, and there were no issues. It’s hard to imagine pulling something 50,000 pounds at 100, but it’s been done. We don’t recommend that,” Behrns said.

He said the bin is best moved empty, but it can be moved with a few hundred bushels in it if necessary.

The Grain Giant has signal lights, tail lights, and a slow-moving warning sign, but because the bin is 15 feet wide, and just under 16 feet tall in transportation mode, Vale will use a rear-facing camera when it’s moved.

“Hitch to back is 60 feet, so it’s a monster,” Behrns said.

“It doesn’t need a pilot. But we’re still considering running a pilot behind.”

Suggested retail is about $200,000.

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