ORIGINALLY WRITTEN TOM STOPPEL
Farmers know rain makes grain, but it was coincidental that the day Hillsboro got 3 inches of rain was also the day Cooperative Grain & Supply in Hillsboro installed its new scales for future harvests.
“It was sure good timing, although we’d have liked to have gotten those 3 inches of rain in three different rains-but we don’t have that option,” CG&S general manager Lyman Adams said with a laugh.
“We’d like to think we had something to do with the rain we got Thursday, and the fact it was the day we installed the scale. But we know it was just a coincidence.”
Even so, the scales were finally installed after weeks of preparation, putting the project on schedule to be completed before the summer wheat harvest.
Adams said the addition of the new Weigh-Tronix BMS-HD (Bridgemont Standard-Heavy Duty) scales will make future harvests safer and, he hopes, quicker.
“Probably the biggest thing this new scale will help us out with is the truck flow,” he said.
The plan calls for trucks and wagons to turn off Ash Street-and stay off Ash Street-the entire unloading process. All trucks will be routed so they’ll enter the scale from the west.
“Whether the trucks come from the north or the south (on Ash), our plan is to route them so they’ll make kind of a ‘U’ and be headed east on the scales, loaded or empty,” Adams said.
“This will also benefit people who aren’t even involved in agriculture because those trucks won’t be sitting out on Ash anymore. The danger of farm trucks and semi-trucks trying to pull on and off our scales from Ash was very evident.”
Another positive change is that the new scale is larger than the old one.
“Our old scale was 10-feet by 70-feet, but the new one is 11-feet by 80-feet,” Adams said. “We’re really excited about what this new scale will allow us to do.”
Most important, he said, turn-around time from the harvest field and back will be shortened, which is always a benefit in the race against Mother Nature.
“Their scale time will be considerably quicker, although the capacity of our elevator won’t be that much different,” Adams said. “We did replace a belt in our inside leg and speeded up that leg, but our unloading capacity in the elevator didn’t change.
“The biggest speed-up will be the scales, because farmers won’t have to wait to get on and off the scale dodging traffic.”
Adams said the new scale has a weight limit of 60 tons. The added length of the scale is geared toward the present and the future.
“Looking down the road, we just don’t know what the weight limits will be on the road if they axle it off,” he said. “You see weight limits in northern states that are unreal.
“This is a heavy-duty commercial-use scale that we feel is a long-term investment, and it’s something we’ve needed to do for a long time.”
An added feature to the new scale are the side guard rails.
“You go up 20 or 24 inches above ground-level with this scale, but this is the style people are going to,” Adams said. “We tried to go with all the safety features we had available to us and we tried to do it right the first time.”
CG&S also opted to install concrete approaches on either end of the scales.
“We could have just filled it in with gravel on either end, but we opted to add 40 feet of concrete approaches,” Adams said. “In the long term, we won’t have to maintain them and it’ll ease people on and off the scales.”
All the concrete work was done by local contractors.
“That was a factor we wanted to address,” Adams said.
The addition of the new scale, and its location, necessitated a new scale house, which was trucked in from Indiana on Thursday.
“If we’d have had more time, we would have built the building locally, too, but time was of the essence so we had to go with a pre-fabricated building,” Adams said. “We just got the shell, though, and we’ll have local contractors do all the interior work.”
The new scale house will be home to another addition to the CG&S equipment inventory.
“We’ll be adding the new automatic grain probe,” Adams said. “We’ve got that at all of our locations now except Canada.
“That’s employee-friendly, plus it’s a consistent way of sampling trucks,” he added. “The opportunity to probe trucks is a dangerous time for our employees because they’re vulnerable, using leverage above their heads so much. This will decrease the chance of back injuries.”
With work progressing as scheduled, Adams said he believes the facility upgrades will be ready when that first load of wheat rolls comes to town sometime in June. He said he hopes farmers will be excited about the changes.
“I think the patrons will notice the ease of getting on and off Ash Street the most,” he said. “Just the ease of pulling on and off the scales will really stand out.”