A safer way to loadout grain?
CHICAGO – Anyone who has loaded a grain truck from a terminal knows the drill.
1. Pull the trailer under the chute and start grain flow.
2. Get out of cab and climb up trailer to monitor grain level as it nears the top of the trailer, meanwhile holding your breath to keep from breathing as little grain dust as possible.
3. Timing the flow, climb down from the trailer onto the ground and mount the cab, move the truck forward.
Repeat the process several times.
The problem with this routine, said Will Scott, president of Lextech, based in Chicago, is that it’s unsafe for the driver – breathing grain dust and the occasional slip from the trailer ladder, which usually causes injury.
Now there’s an iPhone app that makes the process safe for the driver and more efficient for the grain loader.
It’s called LoadOut, Scott said, and with one button push on the iPhone, the driver can start the flow and monitor the loading inside the cab, moving the truck forward as needed and another button push stops the grain flow.
“This benefits the users and the businesses,” Scott said. “The drivers get a better experience, and the loaders can get more trucks loaded on a busy day.”
Lextech, Scott said, helps sales, operations and integrated technology teams optimize workflows by identifying, designing, and developing suites of custom mobile apps.
He said the best new technologies are easy to use; but important to a company’s overall strategies.
LoadOut is just one of many different mobile apps the company has designed, Scott said, for a variety of industries.
LoadOut’s patent is still pending; but is ready for retail, Scott said.
Beta testing has been ongoing since 2010.
Scott said the grain terminal, or elevator, mounts a camera near the chute so the loading process can be seen inside the trailer. The camera is WiFi capable.
The driver, who needs an iPhone to run the app, logs on and starts and stops the loading process. The camera shows how full the grain box is getting and the driver can do it all without exiting the cab.
Scott said he was first contacted about this app by a farmer in Indiana. The system has been tested there and is beginning to spread through the Midwest.
“But this can be used,” Scott said, “any place where people have to start and stop trucks during commodity loading, or loading water, feed, chemicals or rock.
“Technology doesn’t have to be complicated, but it has to add value to an operation.”
The grain facility buys the camera, which can be mounted on any silo or grain bin, Scott said. The driver downloads the app software to an iPhone.
The on/off buttons are the interface between the camera’s wifi network and the iPhone.
“Finance and health care (industries) see the value,” Scott said. “It’s an impressive solution.
“And the return on investment is more trucks get through the process in a day and it’s safer for the drivers.”
He said the primary market for the camera is for grain loaders. The app is downloaded by a company’s driver or a farmer.
A safety feature in the system is if the iPhone loses contact with the network at any time during the loading process, the system shuts down immediately.