Breathing new life into old u-trough concept

Sometimes a fresh look at an old idea can yield new efficiencies and better results, including a cleaner sample

The new 1345A U-Trough started life when Brandt engineers tore down the designs of previous u-trough units to determine what they needed to make their new unit best in class.

Launched two months ago, the 1345A moves 9,000 bushels per hour, according to Sheldon Gerspacher, vice-president of agricultural sales.

“The u-trough concept has been around for decades in commercial operations. We occasionally see them on farms, but not often. Our engineers took the concept and tore it down to see what we could do to improve it,” Gerspacher said in a phone interview.

“The theory is that your tube is bigger than the flighting, so a lot of your grain rides on top of the flighting. It pushes this grain up to the top without ever touching the steel of the tube or steel of the flighting itself. That grain is basically getting a free ride. That’s what gives you the higher productivity of 9,000 bu. per hour.

There’s a significant gap between the outer edge of the flighting and the inner surface of the tube. Gerspacher said the new auger employs an 11-inch flighting inside a 13-inch trough-shaped tube. The trough walls above the flighting is where the machine creates the extra capacity, without allowing grain to touch steel.

“It’s more efficient than a standard round-tube auger, but that’s just one factor. A large percentage of the grain never comes into contact with steel. That’s why a u-trough auger reduces grain damage. In a standard round auger, the flighting runs close to the tube wall, so a certain amount of grain is damaged when it’s squeezed in between steel and steel.

“Auger damage is an issue with pulses in a round tube. Running canola, the U-Trough has significantly less damage, but it’s still not as good as a rubber belt conveyor,” said Gerspacher.

He said in terms of damage to sensitive crops, conveyors are the best, round augers are worst and the Brandt U-Trough auger is half way between. He said the same ranking applies to cost. Round augers cost the least, conveyors cost the most and the U-Trough auger is about in between. He added that another consideration is the U-Trough has fewer moving parts than a conveyor, thus less downtime.

He said designing something like the new auger is a rigorous process. Brandt has an engineering team that deals with only new product development. They spend a lot of time with farmers, figuring out solutions to problems. They study their pain points with current equipment.

“In the process of developing the U-Trough, farmers knew what they wanted. They wanted the auger to be reliable, they wanted consistent performance across all crops from canola to high moisture corn.

“And make it quiet. We heard this comment from nearly every farmer we talked to. It might sound like a small thing, but a guy has to stand next to all that noise, so anything to reduce the noise level is appreciated. It’s not just comfort, it’s also a safety factor. You want to hear everything that’s going on around you. Making it run more smoothly helps reduce the noise factor.

Brandt installs 11-inch flighting into a 13-inch U-Trough tube. Grain flows up the gap between the spinning flighting edge and inside surface of the tube, allowing grain to flow up the auger without the kernel damage typically associated with augers. The U-Trough moves 9,000 bushels per hour. | Brandt photo

“The other response we had is that farmers want a low-profile intake. This is exclusive to the 1345A U-Trough. Nobody else has an intake like this. It gives the operator a 16-foot reach to get under hopper bottom bins. Customers really focused in on this, not only for ease of use, but also for safety reasons. The funnel-shaped hopper helps intake efficiency and keeps the tube full.”

Safety and reliability were prime considerations throughout the design stage. For example, the 1345A uses steel hydraulic lines throughout. He says total auger cleanout is another factor. Engineers made it as easy and fast as possible at the hopper end, with that final bit of grain dropping into a bucket.

Gerspacher said the new suspended driveline eliminates the need for a belt-tensioning system. It uses splined connections and a spring-loaded idler tensioner on the drive chain to increase strength. This prevents belt slippage, reduces misalignment and minimizes vibration

Ezmove is integrated into the frame, eliminating obstruction and delivering a 16-foot intake reach for unloading large diameter hopper bins. The retractable hopper provides the necessary clearance for getting under bins and unload systems. Discharge flares open to handle peak capacities to prevent risk of plugging and direct grain flow downward.

The new auger is expected to be on dealer lots in December.

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