During the Beltwide Cotton Conferences in Atlanta, a panel discussion on capacity robbers was led by Ross Rutherford and John Fabian and featured prominent ginners Wes Morgan, Craig Huckaby, Richard Kelly and David Blakemore from across the Cotton Belt. Capacity robbers are those events that limit the hourly, daily and weekly production of the gin, costing productivity and money. This can manifest itself in many different forms – mechanical and pneumatic design, electrical and personnel management. In this discussion, ginners identified several factors that rob capacity and reduce ginning efficiencies, which included: poor maintenance, choke points, air system design, excess moisture and personnel management.
Inconsistent Feed Rates – Consistent feed to the gin stands was identified as one of the most challenging problems. Many gins did away with feeders and used the module feeder to control flow but with the different shaped round modules, feed controls are essential in keeping all gin stands loaded. Gin stand monitors can help to identify situations where stands are not getting uniform feeds. It was noted that one gin was able to take a 28-bale-per-hour (bph) average to a 38 bph with updated feed control and air handling systems.
Too High Or Too Low Moisture – All ginners know that properly conditioned modules can make any gin run smoothly, but high moisture can bring a gin’s capacity to its knees. Moisture control is the key to a smooth operation, utilizing moisture-sensing technology, state-of the-art burner controls, dryers and moisture restoration systems. Work closely with your farmers in module construction and protection from moisture. Many ginners have noted that the new round modules provide more consistent feed to the gin, increasing average capacity by four to five bales per hour.
Technology Is Your Friend – Each of the panelists identified new technology that improved ginning capacity and reduced downtime. This includes gin stand controls, automated bale strapping systems and computer data management and acquisition for payroll, employee records, downtime logging and maintenance records. Know your capacity and don’t over commit services. Know your neighbors and work together in sharing spare parts, equipment and high volume purchases of supplies to keep costs down and customers satisfied.
In summary, gin managers need to identify capacity robbers by documenting downtime and use the off season to correct problems and maximize efficiencies.
– Thomas D. Valco, PhD, USDA Cotton Technology Transfer, Stoneville, Miss. Contact him via email at firstname.lastname@example.org 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.