Saturday 22nd Feb, 2020

Moving grain stockpiling forward

Kilic Engineering has used LINAK’s linear actuators to create a more efficient grain stockpiling technology.

Kilic Engineering has used LINAK’s linear actuators to create a more efficient grain stockpiling technology.

When agricultural services company Cargill began to review its supply chain infrastructure, it needed to find a way to optimise its stockpiling operations.

The company had been using stacker conveyors for grain stockpiling which could move along a bunker as it filled up. However, a restrictive discharge chute movement at the top of the stacker was limiting the grain flow direction.

Cargill reached out to mechanical handling equipment designer Kilic Engineering to design a solution that would improve the discharge chute and allow it to be independently moved up, down and sideways to fill a bunker more efficiently.

Jason Kilic, Managing Director of Kilic Engineering, says that using electric actuators was vital for the upgrade.

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“We needed a product that was versatile, compact and simple to control. Something that would allow the discharge chute multi-directional movement without restriction,” he says.

The solution came in the form of the LINAK LA36 actuator, an electric device that converts rotational motion in low voltage direct current motors into a linear push/pull movement.

LINAK (short for Lineær Aktuator) manufactures actuators designed for applications where tilting, lifting, pulling or pushing with thrusts of up to 15,000 newtons is required. Its LA36 model has been designed for harsh outdoor applications.

“LINAK’s actuators were the perfect fit,” Kilic says. “We’ve used LINAK’s technology before, across a range of applications, and have found them to be effective at what they do.”

The actuator is one of three parts that give the discharge chute an enhanced range of motion. A prototype of the design was rolled out at one of Cargill’s Victorian sites, which helped gather feedback for further adjustments.

Lee Aris, LINAK’s National Sales Manager, says the company’s ethos is to work closely with original equipment manufacturers to ensure they can take ownership of the finished application and satisfy their customers’ needs.

The two companies worked together closely, with LINAK providing advice on the model numbers and ratings for the required force and range.

Reliability was a key component for the design, as the new discharge chutes would need to be retrofitted across 29 of Cargill’s stacker conveyors around Australia.

Kilic says the simplicity of the actuator’s design and assembly helped the engineering team ensure the machines would be consistent and uniform for each installation.

“The LA36 is compact, low voltage and programmable, meaning we can connect a laptop to the actuator, upload a program and it will behave the exact same way, every time.”

LINAK offers a free, downloadable software to configure the parameters of each actuator, using easily accessible prompters. This helps the actuators work in synchronisation with an application and can allow changes to be made to the stroke length, speed and current cut-off.

In general, a lower voltage means there is much less chance of harming a user and the LA36 has been tested and certified for electrical operation in dust explosive atmospheres.

With the expanded mobility and the ability to throw gain further, Cargill can now fill certain voids within the stockpile with less movement of the stacker itself, optimising the process significantly.

LINAK aims to manufacture actuators that are maintenance free and long lasting, with some operating in the field more than 20 years.

Kilic says there have been no issues with the actuators but knows that LINAK is close by if they ever need assistance in the future.

“The simplicity of the actuators is their greatest strength. They’re smart, easy to use and require almost no maintenance,” he says.