Today, it seems we have an App for everything for managing our time, money, security and entertainment. Now what we need is a ginning App – one that keeps the gin manager in constant communication with the gin operation and performance. A ginning App would give you real time performance measurements such as bales per hour, module feed rate, modules on the yard, modules in the field and in transit, hours to gin out and estimated last ginned bale date, maintenance checks, time to next scheduled maintenance, downtime inventory and choke-up potential.
These new Apps would also identify quality attributes, such as incoming moisture and trash level of cotton, feeder-apron moisture content, fiber moisture content at the lint cleaner and the bale press. In addition, fiber quality estimates, such as color grade, strength, length and micronaire will be recorded. This new ginning App would recommend or control (auto mode) dryer temperature setting, number of cylinder cleaners and stick machines operating, material flow rates, and all this will be based on current cotton contract or loan values.
There would also be a gin energy App that measures energy usage for each electrical motor and drying energy usage, overall power factor and demand. In addition, the App would recommend or set minimum and maximum power loads based on your utility contract. It would also optimize fan speeds and air volumes to minimize energy demand while providing the functionaloperating requirements.
The gin employee App will show his location within and off the gin yard, provide alerts to equipment maintenance needs, choke-up alerts and safety warnings. It will also keep track of employee hours, work schedules and overtime pay.
The neat part is that all of this can be accessed on your smartphone while you watch your child’s soccer game or relax in your easy chair at home. Using this smart technology can save money, while freeing up time for other activities. A recent USDA Economic Research Service report showed that when producers used precision technology in farming, fuel usage and costs were lower. Input costs, such as fertilizer, herbicides and seeds were reduced while, on average, higher yields resulted.
A ginning App may seem farfetched, but some of these technologies are currently commercially available. Researchers at our USDA ginning labs are developing new quality measurement and control technologies. The use of sensing technology, computer control systems and wireless communication can make this possible.
– Thomas D. Valco, PhD, USDA Cotton Technology Transfer, Stoneville, Miss. Contact him via email at Thomas.email@example.com or call (662) 686-5255. His reports also can be found at www.cottonfarming.com. For more gin data, go to http://msa.ars.usda.gov/gintech.