Moisture Sensors

How “Representative” is Your Moisture Sample?

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Taking a moisture sample when you are drying may seem like an easy process, and in some ways, it is. But it can also give you a false sense of having a very precise result.

Take the case of when you go to the dryer and take a grab sample. You take the sample back to the bench top tester and get a digital readout. Let us say this time the readout is 15.2 percent… So, what does this number mean?

It does not mean that all the grain coming out of the dryer is at 15.2 percent. One way to easily see this is to watch the continuous readout from the Dryer Master, which can move up and down a few tenths of a point over a few minutes.

Another way to see this is to take three samples three or four minutes apart and see if the three samples give you the same reading. In most cases, they will not be exactly the same. The questions begin: Which one is right, and which one should you be using to make any adjustments to your drying?

Small differences are actually a very normal part of sampling. It is all but impossible to get an exact reading that covers all the grain exiting the dryer. There is simply too much inherent variation. This also explains why you may see small differences with your readings and the Dryer Master readings when you are doing calibrations.

That brings us to one of the benefits of Dryer Master. The DM510 continually (6 times a second) samples the grain moisture at the outlet of the dryer, and at the inlet too, so you always have a good idea of the moisture levels going into and coming out of the dryer. The Dryer Master is also aware of these variations and takes them into account when making its control (discharge rate) adjustments.

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.

Keeping your Pet Foods Fresh

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Dryer Master Pet Food Image

If you spend more than 10 minutes on Facebook, you will notice that people really love their pets.  It is not a shock because in the U.S. alone there are 86 million pet cats and 78 million pet dogs. Along with birds, fish, and horses (and anything that will stick around if you feed it) the pet products industry is worth $52.87 billion. Of that, around $20 billion is spent on just food.

Like any grain-based product, moisture monitoring is incredibility important to the makers of pet foods. A good example is cat food, which comes in both high-moisture and low-moisture varieties. Both demand exacting moisture levels in order to stay viable. High moisture cat food must be stored at 17-18%, while low-moisture must remain at 8%.

Some of the biggest names in pet food production around the world rely on Dryer Master’s complete line of moisture measurement and moisture control technology. As this industry booms and people become more aware of the quality of their pet foods, it is even more critical to avoid poor storage techniques. Recently there has been a spike in the levels deadly aflatoxins in pet foods. As we have discussed before, aflatoxins are a fungus that occurs when grains are poorly stored, while they can’t been completely eliminated, proper moisture level monitoring can help limit their spread.

At Dryer Master, we know how important the health of your pet is to you and your family. Therefore, we use the same innovative technology in the pet food world that we do for the grains humans rely on for survival.  In the end, our pets are part of our families, so they deserve the same level of protection and care as we do.

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.

Moisture is King

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There really couldn’t be anything more important in the world of grain storage than moisture. Both moisture measurement and moisture control are key links in the long chain that takes grain from the stalk to market. Throughout the world, thousands (if not millions) of tons of grain are lost each year due to poor moisture measurement and control. At Dryer Master, our goal is to help stop the waste.

We first introduced our moisture measurement and moisture control technology to the North American market in 1983. Over the years, we have expanded across the world and into many other fields, including manufactured foods, feeds, and pet food. Throughout our history, we have been on the cutting edge of moisture technology. However, coming up with superior equipment is just part of our job. Perhaps our biggest challenge is educating anyone who will listen about the need to understand the science of moisture. We see it quite often; people will buy our equipment and install it without fully knowing how to implement it. Most companies will just tell you what equipment does, but not how to make it work properly. Moisture isn’t something that can be taken in a casual manner. For instance, corn needs to be stored at 14-15% moisture. If it reaches 16% it will quickly rot. 1% can happen in a split second, so 1% doesn’t leave a lot of room for error. Older technology and methods called for hourly moisture tests and many people still use this technique. It simply will not work. You need to constantly test moisture; hourly or spot testing is simply a thing of the past.

This blog will be a way for us to share our knowledge and gain from you, the reader. We not only want to teach you what we know, but also want you to share with us what set ups you are currently using and what you think could be added to make them better. In the end, our goal is to make everyone an expert on the importance of mastering moisture. So keep checking back, or if you have any questions, please visit our website, or drop us a line today.