Gerald Unrau Product Manager for Seed Sites and Conveyors, Meridian Manufacturing

Gerald Unrau is Meridian Manufacturing Inc.’s product manager for seed sites and conveyors. His responsibilities include product development and improvements, and supervision of pricing programs and sales staff. Gerald has been with Meridian for 19 years, during which time he has been involved with all aspects of the business—from augers and bins to conveyors, and everything else in between. Gerald’s main focus is to grow his clients’ businesses as well as the seed industry in general.

After the design and engineering phase has been completed, as far as the finished goods are concerned, the manufacturing process is an important stage of building or updating a seed site.

To move into the manufacturing stage, a client must first approve the proposed site’s design and engineering as well as the quote for the cost of the finished product. Once these are approved, the drawings and blueprints created in the previous stage are forwarded on to the appropriate manufacturing teams and facilities.

To ensure a customer’s happiness with the site, not just on delivery day but for years down the road, it must be built right. It’s essential the teams building the seed site’s components understand all elements of the plan and what standard features and accessories are included—and they must follow that plan through to the very last weld and cleaning.

During the manufacturing process, details that influence the quality of the end products are important. For instance, the use of high-quality steel in all materials including accessories is important for durability and cleaning ease.

Precision laser cutting allows for better welding and for all pieces to be put together in a much more permanent and professional manner.

Additionally, don’t underestimate the value of a top-notch finishing process. When applicable, sandblasting offers superior product cleaning. A powder coating, which is sprayed and then baked on products, provides a very hard finish. Powder-coated bins last longer and wear better than traditional spray-painted bins.

It’s also important to put efficient, high-quality equipment that works well with your design into your facility. Team up with companies that provide quality products with little to no downtime. Equipment should be easy to assemble and should operate the way you expect it to. Because the planting season is short, if you don’t have the right product or equipment, you’ll miss out on sales.

For example, some conveyors pass through building walls—your equipment should be designed for this and be able to endure harsh environmental conditions if necessary. In addition, when choosing equipment for your site, make sure it is easy to clean so there is no cross-contamination between seed types and it provides the fastest transition between products.

Buying equipment that’s not quite right in order to save money could cost you in terms of delivering seed on time and moving customers through your facility: your business and your bottom line will be affected.

Ultimately, the seed site must work, and it must work for a long time. The previous stages—conceptualization and design and engineering—provide the site’s foundation and are critical to the entire process. Changes can be made to the site at these stages, however, once those bins are on your yard, changes are much more difficult to make.

Try to look past the dollars and cents. You can be prudent with your money while investing in ideas or products that increase site efficiencies and longevity. Seed is one of our industry’s crown jewels. Everyone takes that extra level of care, attention and pride in the sector. It’s important to put that same care into your seed site.

In the next column, we’ll explore the final stage of this process: delivery, set-up and enjoyment.