The concept got here from a pair of farmers visiting after church about discovering a technique to keep out of grain bins. The consequence, after two years of tinkering and testing, is the brand new Grain Weevil.
This isn’t a grain-bin bug it is advisable to fear about. It’s a new 30-pound robot that helps stage grain within the bin, to keep farmers from having to enter the bins. It may be transported by backpack, and it’s waterproof and dustproof. If it will get buried in grain, it could actually dig itself out of as much as 5 ft of grain.
Statistics present that grain-bin deaths spiked in 2019 and remained excessive in 2020. Any technique to keep farmers and farmworkers from having to enter a bin will save lives. That’s why College of Nebraska-Omaha graduate Ben Johnson and his father, Chad, a farmer from Aurora, Neb., took on the thought.
Ben, as a UNO electrical engineering undergraduate scholar, constructed a robot for a startup in Chicago, so his data was a springboard for this new undertaking. Ben enlisted the experience of his school roommate, Zane Zents, a pc engineering scholar from Omaha. Their efforts culminated in March 2020 after they have been in a position to efficiently drive their new small auger-driven cellular robot on the floor of the grain for the primary time.
The good friend who inspired Chad and Ben to construct the robot was Zach Hunnicutt. “While the conversation started due to a half-joking request to make my work easier,” Hunnicutt says,” it shortly developed into discussing grain-bin security and grain-quality administration.”
Over the course of the testing interval, the Hunnicutt farm grew to become a sounding board and testing grounds for the Grain Weevil, with Zach providing concepts about what to strive, in addition to area to check it in real-world circumstances.
“We are not commercially available yet,” Chad Johnson says. “We are starting six on-farm trials to put the technology through hundreds of hours of tests to make sure it is ready for farmers to use safely. We have not finalized the cost of the Grain Weevil yet, but we have a general idea and a target of under $4,000 per unit. However, there are many factors still at play for the final price.”
The corporate they’ve shaped additionally plans a service subscription that can embody superior options, updates and upkeep.
The event course of has had challenges. “We are now on our 12th iteration,” Chad explains. “One of the most challenging tasks is generating enough power to drive the augers through the grain, but keeping enough speed so that the robot can maneuver on the flow that it is causing. This is only possible with newer, brushless-motor technology and battery breakthroughs that give us the power, but are still light enough to handle.”
Changing guide labor
The concept for the undertaking began out with security in thoughts, however it has developed over time to be one thing way more. Along with breaking apart crusts and bridges within the grain bin, analysis and testing has demonstrated the Grain Weevil’s potential to assist handle grain whereas farmers are loading the bin, whereas grain is in storage and whereas grain is being extracted.
“Each phase has tasks that the robot can either make more efficient or eliminate manual labor,” Chad says. “Our mission is still focused on keeping the farmer out of the bin, but maintaining the quality of stored grain adds tremendous value on the business side as well.”
“This project is important primarily because it has the potential to greatly reduce the risk of physical harm to farmers in one of the most dangerous jobs on the farm,” Hunnicutt provides. “In addition to being a dirty and fairly miserable job, the short-term and long-term health impacts can be life changing. Everyone has a story about a family member or friend who has been hurt or killed in a grain bin. But this also adds another tool to maintain grain quality in a way that is truly unique.”
The corporate believes its robot can do many of the duties often finished by a farmer with a shovel. “We also get farmers that challenge us and make us really think through how the robot can be the most useful,” Chad says. “We are very thankful that most of the farmers we have talked to are willing to dig in and help us figure things out. They want this tool to be useful, and so do we.”
“If I can have a robot in my bins doing a job that I don’t want to do better than I can do it, that’s really a no-brainer,” Hunnicutt provides.
Study extra on-line at grainweevil.com.