Dave Means Field Service Technician, Oliver Manufacturing

Dave Means joined the team at Oliver three years ago, after spending 25 years working for Syngenta. He started out servicing research equipment, and then he transitioned to plant manager. As a field service technician, Means says he tries to provide the kind of service he would have wanted as a plant manager. Means is located in Bagley, Iowa, and holds an associate’s in electricity and electronics and an Iowa Master Electrician license, as well as his OSHA certification.

When I am asked about this, I pause and ask questions myself. But I find the answers lie in the fact that, as plants evolve, we need to encourage operators to become seedsmen and not just operators: knowing how everything fits together and not just how the individual pieces work. Here are 5 ways to get the most out of your Gravity Separator.

1. Know the limitations of your gravity table: This machine is designed to separate products by pure density. Heavy products will move up the deck, while the lighter material will be floated to the top of the fluidized product and migrate to the lower side of the table. The Gravity does not know color, shape, or one product from the other. Simply weight.

2. Understand what the adjustments do: Separation happens by using air to fluidize the product, using side tilt to impede lighter material, and allowing eccentric speed to drive the better product to the high side of the deck. A combination of all these adjustments allows you to fine tune where the good portion and contaminate discharges from the gravity table.

3. Sample test: A quick way to know if you are truly getting density separation is to check weights. The product discharged at the low rail should be lighter than the product discharging at the high rail. You don’t know what changes to make if you don’t know what you currently have; you don’t know if the changes you made have worked unless you verify the result.

4. Routine Maintenance: Gravity separators are very mechanical machines. Proper care of bearings, air filters, deck cover, air boots, and other vital moving parts is critical. Follow your manufacturer’s instructions for greasing intervals. Properly maintained, these machines will perform for many years. Preventive maintenance will save you from having down time during the season.

5. Look at the entire process: Every machine in your process is a tool. We don’t change a tire without using multiple tools, and we cannot achieve great quality standards without using all the tools in our plant. If we are seeing more contaminate than normal on our gravity, look to see what is happening at the cleaner.

By engaging your employees in all of these practices, you will be developing operators that understand what standards you want to achieve, how to use the tools to reach them, and what adjustments it took to make it happen. Your operator is now a Seedsman.