Bulk Systems: Why You Shouldn’t Rush Things

- Jason Kaeb

In our business, we often receive calls in the winter from a customer wanting to begin the process of putting in a bulk seed and treatment system in time for the upcoming spring treating season. The problem is that this gives the customer and the supplier a very short window to get all of the equipment on order, delivered, installed and commissioned. This potentially leads to regrettable decisions as the primary driver to getting the equipment up and running is time.

I’d like to take this opportunity to spell out, in general, how the process works, and how long you need to allow for it from start to finish if you’re in the market for a bulk seed and treatment system.

The first step is to contact a company that can provide bulk seed and treatment equipment and get them on-site. There’s a lot of decisions to be made in regard to size, capacity, scaling equipment, treater, the level of automation you desire, how data management comes into play, and more.

The next step is where the engineering begins. The manufacturer will work with your sales rep to put site drawings together to show you what the site will actually look like. It is not uncommon for these drawings to go back and forth many times until you are able to settle on specific equipment and a site layout that is desirable.

Once that’s established, the next part is continuing the planning stage, but in more detail. Seed treater, pump stand details (pump size, tank size, direct draw from keg, etc.), ancillary equipment — all that is decided as the manufacturer walks you through the process.

After this, you place an order for the equipment. This isn’t time to relax, though. A bulk system isn’t a turnkey solution. It involves the customer’s involvement all the way through. Concrete needs to be poured for the bins, your concrete supplier needs to know the specs, and the bulk system manufacturer needs to know the timeline for this.

Once you have a contractor lined up to do your concrete work (and building work if you’re making a whole new structure), you’re looking at eight weeks before you’re going to receive equipment.

Once an order is placed for the equipment, it can take up to eight weeks for delivery of the equipment and then another 2-4 weeks to complete the installation. Once installed, electrical work must begin, which can take up to two weeks for your electrician to complete

A technician is then sent by the manufacturer to run the equipment and make sure everything runs in the right sequence. Operators are trained on the equipment as well.

You’re looking at up to 16 weeks— four months once the equipment is ordered. The more time you give yourself and your manufacturer of choice, the more smoothly things will go.

Remember: Installing a bulk system can be stressful. We call this the “nerve curve”. Stress levels can go up as the process plays out. Having all your ducks in a row can help keep that nerve curve from getting too steep.