Okan Saribal Technical Director, Oliver Manufacturing

A good dryer is important for any seed business. Seed treatment and pelletizing are becoming profit centers for seed companies, and dryers are an integral piece of the system, which is creating this whole new value stream for the end-user.

Without a proper dryer, it is not easy to maintain treatment quality, consistency, and production throughput.

Most significantly, there has been advancement in automation and process control. The machines are becoming much more sophisticated, allowing the operator to step away from making subjective adjustments to process parameters.

For heated dryer applications, there has been noteworthy development in optimizing the temperature distribution of the machine, ensuring that the maximum allowable temperature for a kernel and/or treatment is not exceeded.

I’m often asked why it’s so important to have a good dryer. It’s all about getting the treatment onto the seed. By integrating a proper dryer into the treatment process, the tack-phase of the treatment may be extended without running the risk of clumping and treatment buildup on equipment. Furthermore, a fluidized bed dryer has the added benefit of providing a superb, “polished” aesthetic to the seed.

Aside from the basics of a high-quality and well-engineered dryer, scrutiny should be given to the dryer’s compatibility with your process. At this point, there is no standard one-size-fits-all dryer answer, so having an equipment solutions partner that listens to your needs and advises accordingly is crucial.

A common question I get is, “Can you engineer and build a dryer that does ____ for me?” Many times, it seems the common questions come down to the ability to provide tailored solutions for a specific client.

In the near-term, the most exciting strides will continue to be related to process automation. Many machines have “computer controls”, but they’re often serving as glorified on/off switches. By pairing/developing the appropriate sensing technologies with sophisticated controls algorithms, the next-generation machines will be able to process treatment very precisely, regardless of the variables at play.

It’s also crucial to plan for the future with some surplus drying capacity. Treatment rates are on the rise, and are not expected to plateau any time soon. The dryer market is still in its infancy, and many folks are pushing the limits to figure out where the edges are.