Preparing for Crunch Time
It’s mid-September, and we are well past the summer solstice and the season continues to progress. In some areas, harvest is in full swing as we push into another cycle of seed conditioning. Consider your seed conditioning facility. Is it ready to go or are you waiting on the first loads of seed to force your troubleshooting efforts?
Here are a few low-hanging fruit to help prepare your seed conditioning facility for a busy schedule:
Preventative Maintenance, Review and Preview. Professional facilities practice preventative maintenance. A great starting point is to review last year’s shutdown records. Did your staff address all noted issues from late last season and resolve them? This may catch an item that fell through the cracks. Use your most important asset in this review, your staff. Engage them to identify and prioritize issues regarding safety, budgetary or other categories. This will help determine how to best tackle the tasks at hand.
Operator Training. Skilled operators working in a safe environment will make or break a successful season. Training is an ongoing task, and it is never too late even heading into the busiest of times. Reputable manufacturers know their equipment is only as good as those operating it. With that in mind, be proactive about doing on-site training visits. Several manufacturers operate test facilities with the purpose of both sample testing and operator training. If timing seems too desperate for staff travel, ask your manufacturing reps to assist with online or video training.
Spare Parts. One of most valuable tricks to limit downtime is to maintain an inventory of suggested stocking parts. These parts should be recommended by equipment manufacturers to minimize costly “machine down” issues. Items should include things like drive belts, critical bearings and electrical parts for control cabinets like breakers or switches. Include staff members to make sure they are aware of the inventory and know which items are applicable to which machines.
Mock Startup. A mock startup is a good practice for both basic mechanical equipment and more complex control systems. Even without seed in the system, most simple problems can be avoided if you run through a startup scenario. This also gives operators a chance to check machine settings before critical seed runs.
These items shouldn’t consume much time and will hopefully reduce stress, increase efficiency and improve safety in your facilities.