Control Technology

Dryer Master Experiences: Myron in Illinois

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Myron has worked with Dryer Masters systems for over 10 years. He currently uses two DM510s on two Zimmerman 4500 tower dryers, typically drying around 4 million bushels of corn a year. In the first photo you have the DM510’s sitting side by side, along with the printers that Myron makes good use of. The bottom picture shows a slightly unusual sensor placement (the conduit runs to the back of the moisture sensor).

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How does the Dryer Master change the way that you dry, or help your drying operations from an operational perspective? 

We can generate a printout tape to evaluate the functions over night or during the day.  To monitor moisture ranges.

Did anything surprise you about how your Dryer Master worked when you first used it?

The ease of operation.

What drying tips (if any) would you like to pass on to other dryer owners about how to get the most out of their dryer and/or their Dryer Master?

During start up – give it plenty of time to learn and if possible they work the best if you don’t shut down, and run 24 – 7.

Have you f100_0642ound a financial difference in your drying performance using Dryer Master?

Yes, more consistent for moisture blending.

Winter drying in China

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As we start the New Year in North America grain drying has, for the most part, been done for some time now. Such is not the case in parts of China.IMG_20141206_161246a

In North East China (for example in provinces like Heilongjiang, Jilin, Inner Mongolia and Liaoning) the drying season for corn (using grain dryers as opposed to sun drying) can extend for 4 months or even longer, from November through to March. On a recent visit to China in early December, after almost all of our North American customers had finished drying, we found many of our customers in China just getting started.

This is because in these northern areas the cold weather arrives early and so corn can be harvested and stored for some time before it has to be dried. The grain storage depots take advantage of this by extending their drying season and then using their grain dryers over an extended period. It is an efficient use of the dryers, even if the weather outside does make drying a bit more of a challenge.

Of course this means that corn is often being dried when the outside air temperature is well below freezing and the corn coming into the dryer may in fact be frozen. Measuring the moisture of frozen kernels is an interesting problem, but one that Dryer Master in-line moisture sensors are ready to meet.

Another challenge faced when drying grain in China is that unlike North America where NG or propane may be used as a fuel and a constant drying air temperature is expected, in China coal is used for much of the drying. With a coal fired system it is far more difficult to achieve a steady drying air temperature and in fact you will see quite a variation in the drying temperature. It is no surprise then that the tending of the coal fire becomes one of the more important jobs at the depot site.

As in other parts of the economy the Chinese government has made a major push to improve the quantity and quality of the countrIMG_20141205_135558ay’s grain handling infrastructure. There has been a significant expansion of the number of the grain handling depots and their storage capabilities as well as an investment in new technology. In addition to the many storage depots that are managed by state owned enterprises, there is also an increasing number of privately run storage depots as well.

Wherever we went, even in more remote areas, the construction cranes were everywhere. It is no exaggeration to say that the scale of the advancement and improvement in infrastructure, both in agriculture and generally in the economy, is mind-boggling.

What’s your “Dead Time”?

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Imagine you are at your dryer and you have just taken a moisture sample.

The corn tests at 14.2% in your bench top, but you want 15.2% coming out of the dryer. What do you do?

Let’s say you decide to increase the metering roll speed (discharge rate). You make the change, but right away two thoughts strike you. First did you make a big enough change, or maybe too big of a change, and second, just how long will it be until you know the answer to your first question.

Just like there is a lag between when you turn on the shower and when you actually get hot water there is a lag between when you make a change to the metering roll speed and when you see the impact of that change. This is what is called “dead time”.

If your dryer has a cooling zone, then the absolute minimum dead time before you see any change in your outlet moisture is the time it takes for the grain to get from the bottom of the hot zone to where you take your moisture sample. This is because the grain that was already in the cooling zone will not see any change in moisture because of your rate change. In reality though you should be looking at up to a full dryer load before you see the full impact of your change. Only then can you know if you made the right change.

So, if your dryer has only a 60 minute residence time and a cooling zone, you are probably still looking at about 50 minutes to see if the rate change was correct. If you have a rack style dryer with say a 3 hour residence time then you could be looking at well over 2 hours to see the impact of your change.

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Let’s use as an example the sample dryer at the right with a 3 hour residence time – 2 1/2 hours in the hot zone and 1/2 an hour in the cooling zone. If you make a discharge rate change the grain in the cooling zone will not be impacted by the change. The final moisture of this grain has already been set at this point. The grain in the bottom half of the hot zone is also unlikely to see the full impact of the change. Again in our example, by the end of the hot zone if the grain is over dried it can not be undried at this point. Therefore it is likely that to see an impact from the rate change the grain will have to at least be in the top half of the hot zone. That means you would have to wait at least 2 hours for it to exit the dryer before you might start to know if your rate change decision was correct. That’s why it is called “dead time” – time you have to wait not knowing if the right decision was made, and it is one of the reasons grain drying is so tough.

It is no wonder that so many dryer operators prefer not to make too many rate changes, and prefer to err on the side of caution (over drying a bit). If they make the wrong decision it can take up to a dryer load to get things back in order.

In our next post we will look at how Dryer Master handles the “dead time” problem to help users take the guesswork out of drying their grain.

DM-Mobile from Dryer Master: Adding mobility and peace of mind to your drying season.

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DM-MobileDM-Mobile brings true real time remote moisture monitoring and drying control to the grain industry.

Now your moisture and drying information can be easily accessed through your web browser on your smart phone, tablet or PC. There is no app to run. Just open your browser and go to my.dryermaster.com and log in to your Dryer Master DM510*

With DM-Mobile you can view real time moisture and drying information (including alarms) as well as up to 24 hours of historical data. You can also even make changes to moisture and rate set points all directly from your browser. Now you no longer always have to be close to the dryer to know what’s going on.

Why not try out DM-Mobile at my.dryermaster.com (log in: demo, password: demo). If you are not yet familiar with the DM510 you might want to take a minute to read the help page for a quick run down of DM-Mobile’s features.

To help promote this valuable new feature Dryer Master is adding DM-Mobile as a standard component to its industry leading DM510 computerized drying control systems at no additional charge for 2014.

If you would like to learn more about the DM510 and how it can add profits and peace of mind to your next drying season why not check out our product page on our web site or one of our DM510 training videos on our YouTube channel, or even better give us a call at 1-888-318-0009 (toll free in North America) or at 1-519-725-4700.

* requires connection of DM510 to an internet enabled router

Understanding Dryer Master’s AM3

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The AM3 by Dryer Master is a state logic control system for a continuous flow dryer.

The system comes with a moisture sensor that provides real time moisture information to a micro PLC display unit. The controller uses this moisture information, in conjunction with user input set points, to make periodic adjustments to the dryer discharge rate.

The easiest way to understand how the AM3 control works is to actually watch it in action. So to demonstrate the features and functionality of the AM3 we have made a two part video quick guide. In part we go over basic operational information and in part two we show how the AM3 control operates in different situations.


Maximizing Drying Efficiency

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Fotosearch_k10159421One of the things that makes grain drying a challenge is the number of uncontrollable variables—such as different moistures, temperatures, wind speeds, and humidities. But there are a few things you may have some control over (at least some of the time) that can make your drying more efficient. In this post we are going to highlight two of them:

Longer dryer runs. The trend to larger dryers has meant that in some cases there is only enough product for short runs, so the dryer may only run for a couple of hours, then be turned off for a few hours. The problem is that the grain that is left in the dryer during the shutdown will tend to come out over dried. And of course, the more often there are shutdowns the more grain will come out over dried. Ideally, the goal should be to try for longer dryer runs when possible because a dryer is most efficient when running continuously at capacity.

Tempering. Many times on the graphs we download from our customers, we can see the clear difference in moisture variation between day time and night time operation.

During the day, incoming product may go straight into the dryer, but as the product is coming from different locations, the moisture may vary significantly from one truck load to the next. This variation in moisture makes drying to a constant target that much more of a challenge.

In contrast, the product being dried at night may have sat for a few hours in storage having some time to temper—or an opportunity to mix with other product. The result is more consistent moisture going into the dryer and an easier process to control.

Maintaining Dryer Efficiency: Part One

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Grain StorageIt may be a bit hard to believe, but we have actually seen cases where a dryer has lost up to 50 percent of its capacity! We don’t want to see this happen to anyone so in this post, and the next one, we will talk a little bit about maintaining dryer efficiency.

Let’s start with the basics. Maintaining maximum air flow is the key to efficient performance. Because drying grain involves hot air passing through the grain, anything that reduces this air flow impacts performance.

With screen dryers, a great deal of moisture is expelled from the top few feet of the dryer. Much of the easy-to-dry product such as fines, broken kernels, chaff (red dog or bees wings) loses the bulk of its moisture here. These particles then tend to get pushed through the screen to the outside where they build up as a wet mess and stick to and plug the screens—thereby reducing air flow.

Over time, this wet section will steadily move further and further down the dryer as the screens in the higher portion above it plug up. This process gradually reduces the effective capacity of the dryer, and when drying capacity is lost, drying efficiency is reduced.

One way to slow this process is to clean the product ahead of drying. This will reduce the broken, fines, and red dog (bees wings) which tend to plug the screens.

Dryer Master and the Perfect Cup of Coffee

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In an estimated 70 countries around the globe, coffee beans are grown and harvested on an industrial scale. If you walk around any city, you can see why coffee cultivation is such massive part of the global market. Human beings – from India to Argentina to your local café in Seattle – can’t seem to live without their cup of Joe in the morning.

Of course, the journey “from tree to Starbucks” isn’t as simple as it might seem. There are many different types of coffee beans and each of these demands its own specific roasting process to become useable and ultimately drinkable. There is a fine (and extremely expensive) line between a perfect roast and burning coffee beans beyond use. A proper roast will cause beans to glow red-hot and gently crack open, releasing their much beloved essence and flavor.

Each company has its own secret and highly-guarded roasting process. The big players in the coffee business have roasters that run 24/7/365 – all in the never-ending effort to meet the world’s insatiable demand for caffeine. In order to create this much product and maintain high levels of quality, coffee beans not only have to be perfectly roasted to the split second, but also must be maintained at an exact level of moisture.

This is where the experts at Dryer Master come into play.  Our moisture sensors and control technology can be fine-tuned to stop the roasting process on a continuous roaster at the perfect moment, all this by maintaining the ideal after quench moisture necessary to create the ideal coffee flavor.  We take the guesswork out of the process, so when you order or homebrew your favorite coffee, you know you will be getting the same, quality experience every time.

On-Line Testing

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Everything is on-line these days. Information and technology follows you 24-7. Often it can be annoying and somewhat overwhelming, but not when it comes to monitoring the moisture of your stored grains, pet food, RTE cereals, and other moisture sensitive products.

At Dryer Master, we never get tired of talking about the need to constantly check the total bulk moisture, humidity, and temperature of your products. On-line Moisture SensorsWe have mentioned before that many people around the world incorrectly believe that testing their products occasionally is good enough. Of course, in many cases they simply do not have sufficient time and resources or access to the technology to test in any other way. Luckily, there is an accurate and reliable way to measure your moisture continuously from just about anywhere.  Dryer Master’s On-line Moisture Sensors are easy to install, take little to no maintenance, and when combined with a Dryer Master Controller or display or integrated into top-notch PLC based automation application they are accurate to ±0.2%M.

Our sensors are in use all across the world in thousands of locations. They are designed for operation in very environmentally unfriendly situations, from extreme cold to very warm temperatures.  There are explosion proof versions, which is quite important for oil seed facilities doing solvent extraction or other chemical plants.  If you want to learn more about our On-Line sensors, drop us a line or you can visit our website to find a dealer, agent, or distributor near you.

Do it today, because there is no reason to go another season losing your stored products to inconsistent moisture monitoring.