Tri-States Grain Conditioning General Manager, Dan Winkowitsch, explains the basics of GrainTRAC remote grain monitoring. You’ll learn how it works from grain bin to secure data transfer to remote access.
We talk a lot about grain temperature monitoring and why it’s so important to your farm’s bottom line. It helps maintain an optimal environment for stored grain, provides early detection of hot spots that indicate emerging grain health problems, and lengthens the time you can store grain for market flexibility. But what we haven’t talked a lot about is how easy it is to accomplish these goals remotely.
Grain Temperature Monitoring Starts with Cables
As with all temperature monitoring systems, including portables and GrainTRAC, all things start with the temperature monitoring cable. In the case of Tri-States Grain Conditioning, those cables are blue. Anytime you get any TSGC system, you’re going to have blue cables that hang in your bins.
Where and How to Read Grain Temperatures
The question is after you get your cables in your bins, how are you going to see those temperatures? Where are you going to look for that data? One very common method is to go out to your bin, plug in your hand-held reader and look at those temperatures. That’s a very quick, easy, efficient, low-cost way to do it. And many people start that way.
After some time, you may have a number of bins, and a lot of cables. You might say to yourself, “I don’t want to want to go stand out there in January or July. I’d like to read those temperatures some other way.”
That brings us to GrainTRAC.
Remotely Monitor Grain Temperature
GrainTRAC is a white metal box that looks like an oversized medicine cabinet. That makes sense, since it’s associated with your grain’s health. The unit mounts on the side of your grain bin with a weather protector on top. It’s got an antenna that sends collected data about your grain to you.
Here’s how it works. GrainTRAC starts with temperature monitoring cables in your bin. The information collected in the bin gets sent to a sensor board. That sensor board then takes the information and passes it on to a crop link, which sends it through a modem. It’s actually a cell phone modem that sends out messages to a server.
You log in on your computer if you’re at home to retrieve temperatures. And you can comfortably do that drinking your coffee inside when it’s 23 degrees below zero outside.
Also, there’s an app for your smartphone where you can look at the grain temperature readings. You can do that while you’re on the beach, or you can do it while you’re parked in your car. Basically, you can retrieve the information wherever you have cell phone service or Wi-Fi.
When you receive information from grain bin on your smartphone, it’s also being stored. So, you can look back at what happened with your grain temperature in the past days. (Remember, we’re always looking for trends in grain temperature to see if it’s healthy or unhealthy.) As you go forward, you take a few minutes each day to check it and know your grain’s health.
Easily Upgrade Your Current System to GrainTRAC
It’s easy to upgrade to GrainTRAC from existing systems. GrainTRAC automatically takes grain temperature readings four times per day for up-to-date data. But it also has the ability to access temperature data in real time, if you’re watching something in particular. Your data is sent to a secure website, so you don’t have to worry about protecting it.
The beauty of GrainTRAC is that it doesn’t matter how small or large your operation is. You can hook one cable to it, or you can hook ten cables in one bin to it. If you want, you can even hook ten bins together. There are multiple ways that you can utilize the system.
More Ways to Put Grain Bin Data to Work
Not only can you view current and historical readings to preserve your grain quality, but you can configure alarms too. Once an alarm is triggered, you’ll get an email or text message alert letting you know of a problem wherever you are.
There’s even an optional alarm to deter grain theft. If you have bins out of your visual view, you know grain theft is a growing security issue. With GrainTRAC, you can configure an alarm that lets you know whenever your loading/unloading equipment is in motion. This gives you the opportunity to alert authorities and catch thieves in the act.
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