Farmers save costs and boost yields with Grouper Bin powered by LINAK CANopen actuators

We've recently taken out award-winning versatile SUPA BIN Grouper to the next level with the Ultimate Control series using LINAK LA14 CANopen actuators, improving the accuracy and consistency of the multiple blending options for farmers.

Reducing contamination with the The SUPA BIN ST

Our SUPA BIN ST design ,met the needs of growers wanting a bin to reduce contamination between seed and fertiliser and fill-up times of air seeders at sowing time.

In addition, being strong without compromising its tare weight and with a high-capacity conveyor belt underneath the bins, farmers can also use it at harvest time, making it extremely versatile.

The SUPA BIN can take the place of multiple trucks and cut down on time to fill an air seeder, with the added benefit of not needing to tip trucks in the paddock, resulting in a safer operation.

The SUPA BIN has four internal compartments with robust LINAK® LA12 actuators that reliably open and close the product doors at the bottom of each bin, controlling the feed-out rate of product onto the zero-contamination conveyor underneath. By manually pressing pushbuttons on the side of the SUPA BIN and watching the flow of product out of the bin, farmers, using their experience and best judgement, can set the feed-out rate to blend seed varieties and fertiliser straight into the air seeder, saving the cost of paying a premium price to have it blended by a supplier.

Further development added the option of a tubulator fitted to the SUPA BIN, with its hydraulic pack powered by the on-board engine, thus increasing its versatility and providing the ability to efficiently transfer up to four different seed and fertiliser products without the need for a separate auger and with zero contamination.

The SUPA BIN was an unprecedented success; sales escalated above our expectations, and the functionality met the needs of the market, so it was no surprise when, in 2019, we won the Henty Machinery Field Day award for ‘The Best Australian Designed and Manufactured Machine’, gaining recognition as the Grouper of choice by Australian farmers.

LINAK is a family-owned business with headquarters in Denmark. It develops electric linear actuator solutions for smooth movement in a variety of applications across many business areas.

The birth of the Ultimate Control series

We knew the SUPA BIN was a high-quality product with some positive points of difference compared to its competitors, but it was still operated and controlled similarly to many other Groupers in the market. Although some use scales, farmers often still have to “eyeball” the mixtures. We wanted a more sophisticated product to deliver more value to farmers. We returned to the drawing board and investigated how to improve it without making dramatic mechanical design changes and integrating the best technology. We decided on a solution using CANopen controls by COBO in conjunction with LINAK LA14 CANopen Actuators.

450 x crf wide shot supabin

"LINAK was our chosen supplier from the start because of their global reputation, high-quality manufacturing and known low failure rate."

Harnessing the power of the LA14 CANopen actuators

We’ve now taken the SUPA BIN to the next level with the Ultimate Control series, using LINAK LA14 CANopen actuators. With the SUPA BIN’s ability to dispense four and even up to six products individually or simultaneously, allowing multiple blending options, farmers wanted to do this with increased accuracy and consistency to save costs and improve yields even more. This is what the Ultimate Control series delivers.

LA14 CANopen actuators on each product door are integrated into a new control system supplied by COBO, incorporating a touch screen mounted in a control box on the side of the SUPA BIN and an intuitive, handheld remote-control unit. An ECU (electronic control unit) with a CANopen interface controls and monitors each of the LA14 actuators and other devices, including the weighing system, cameras for the bins, and a hydraulic system for the tubulator, via a simple wiring system forming the CANopen network.

450 x crf 2 touch screen mounted on control box

The network communicates many data points between the devices, improving control functionality, monitoring and diagnostics. Even though some, but not all, of these data points, would be possible without using a CANopen network, each data point would need dedicated wiring and a digital or analogue input or output in the ECU, requiring more ECUs and more complex wiring, resulting in a higher cost.

Intelligent farming reduces cost and boosts yields for farmers

The control system enables the operator to select one of three pre-programmed door opening positions and, therefore, feed-out rates for each compartment, in percentage from 0%-100%, allowing the easy selection of pre-programmed accurate and consistent blends of the different products in each compartment. However, if the farmer or operator wants to adjust the pre-programmed mixtures or if they would like to manually control the mixtures, the CANopen system provides the flexibility to adjust the door openings in steps of 1%, enabling this fine adjustment of the blend.

Optimising the amount of seed varieties and fertiliser used in a blend can significantly impact farmers’ costs and yield from their fields.

450x crf operator controlling machine

When a pre-programmed door position is selected on the touch screen or remote-control unit, the actuators instantly start and open or close the compartment door to that position. The controller sends a “run to position” command to the actuators via the CANopen network. The actuators extend or retract to that position using their built-in position sensor, and the controller can continuously monitor the actuators’ position and other operating conditions in real-time.

Diversification - LA14 CANopen actuator control throttle position

The on-board engine can be manually started and stopped from the touch screen or remote-control unit, and with an LA14 CANopen actuator controlling the throttle position, the control system automatically adjusts the engine’s speed as required. For example, if the tubulator is commanded to move left, right, up or down, or its conveyor is operating, its hydraulic system is started, and the control system automatically commands the actuator to change the position of the throttle, increasing the engine speed to provide the increased power required.
945 x crf 3 wide shot images of ultrabin in field

"The SUPA BIN Ultimate Control series is also a stand-alone product that uses its own on-board power source – no need for a truck or tractor to provide power to our Grouper."

supabin crf wide shot of full machine

A bright future

We are confident that the SUPA BIN with Ultimate Control be the market leader in contamination-free mix blend handling solutions for farmers.

The SUPA BIN Ultimate Control series is a contamination-free, multi-product handling solution that allows farmers to blend seed varieties and fertiliser. 

It’s fitted with a tubulator conveyor with a 180-degree working arc that can be operated remotely, making our customers’ farming practices more efficient. 

It has eliminated the need to tip trucks in the paddock, meaning fewer risks involved in the product handling process. And with the robust, reliable LA14 CANopen actuators controlling the positions of each compartment door, it enables farmers to blend the different products in each compartment accurately and consistently, saving them significant costs and helping them to increase yield.

“We are diversifying our product line, and 90% of our products will utilise LINAK products.”

The benefits and value of using LINAK CANopen actuators

Using LINAK CANopen actuators, the control, monitoring and diagnostic capabilities are only limited by your imagination and the program in the ECU. This case story explains how an actuator can be commanded to move to a precise position, and its actual position can be monitored in real-time via the CANopen network. But so much more can be done. For example, it’s possible to command an actuator to run out, run in or stop running. The operating speed can be adjusted, and the current limit can be set, as can the acceleration and deceleration ramp times used for starting and stopping. Adjusting these variables can help optimise the performance of the driven equipment and minimise mechanical stress. Monitoring a wealth of data points in real-time is also possible, providing actionable insights. This includes monitoring if it is running out, running in or stopped, when it reaches the end of stroke out and end of a stroke in positions, the actual current and speed while operating and if an over-current condition occurs, which could be due to a mechanical blockage, for example. In addition, if an error arises, an error code can be read to provide more information about the type of error and many other operating data points to help troubleshoot.

In summary, using LINAK CANopen actuators, or actuators with any other communications bus interface, can result in value-adding control functionality for your equipment, with more data for monitoring and diagnostics, and even remote access if the control system provides that, to improve your service and support to your customers.

To learn more about LINAK, visit their website, linak.com.au

Original article copy written by LINAK. 



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