WHERE IS HORT EQUIPMENT LOCATED?
Middle Tennessee Between Nashville And Chattanooga Off Of Interstate 24. I-24 Exit #127 Hwy 64/50. At End Of Exit Ramp Turn South. Horticulture Equipment Is Approximately 6 miles on left. Metal Building. Very Rural Area, You cant Miss Us! If you make it to a gas station on your right you went 1/4 mile to far.
POTTING MACHINE AND FLAT FILLER QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS:
Q: What is the proper way to set-up a flat filler for a chosen container?
A: Typically any automatic flat filler will require similar tuning for the chosen containers being filled.
WHEN FILLING FLATS OR TRAYS OF ANY TYPE
- Adjust Guide Rails to place container on filling belt at optimum filling position. If machine has adjustable gate to regulate width of filling belt covered by media adjust it to cover the width of the container being filled.
- Adjust Height Of Machine Device Used To Promote Even Filling And Aid In Compaction To A Distance Above the container being filled that provides proper compaction. (Usually Device Just Touching Top Of Container To 1 Inch Above) (The closer this device is to the container the more compact the fill will be.) (These devices can be rollers, rotating sweeps, etc.) If your Flat Filler has a vibrating belt feature you may opt to turn it on when filling for additional compaction. This vibration is usually only necessary when filling small cell plug trays or when sticking top heavy cuttings.
- If your machine has an adjustable soil wiper downstream from the above device adjust it as close to the top of the container as you can without the wiper touching any of the container or hanging up on the filling media if your mix is course. This will assist the next item in cleaning the top of the container properly without throwing media back over to the cleaned portion of the containers downstream from the flat filler discharge.
- The next item downstream is typically a horizontal rotating clean off brush that is height adjustable. Adjust its height so that the tip of the bristles just barely come into contact with the top of the container being filled.
- Next, inspect the machine for any debris in the Flat Filler that could damage the machine or injure an operator during use. Check for belt and chain tracking and tension and turn off all single function switches and dial speed controls to 0. Also, inspect for gaurds being in place and any other hazards/maintenance issues.
- Now you are ready to fill the machines feed hopper with media if not already filled. (Emptying the media from the machine and blowing the media out of the nooks and crannys with an air hose when machine is not in use will DRASTICALLY increase machine life!!!!!!)
Finally, turn the main power switch on and place an empty container on the stopped belt. Turn the soil delivery on and when soil begins to deliver to the belt you can slowly accelerate the belt speed. To set the desired filling rate please adjust the height of the hopper discharge gate to regulate soil delivery to the containers properly at the chosen filling belt speed. Regulating this soil delivery is most always done with a height adjustable discharge gate and sometimes is tuned more precisely with a variable speed controlled soil delivery system. If your soil system is variable speed this option can be used as well to properly regulate delivery. Proper Regulation means that the containers are filled properly and the soil being returned through the machine is at a minimum!!!
WHEN FILLING POTS, BASKETS OR BOWLS IN A SINGLE FILE LINE
1b Follow the same steps as above disregarding step #2. This device is typically not used while filling single file containers and may need to be removed from above the filling belt and stored for this application. There may also be a removable chute that will need to be installed for this application in order to regulate the soil fall to a more narrow drop thus reducing the amount of returned soil and optimizing the rate of fill.
Q: What do I do if my flat filler damages containers or turns them over when filling?
A: Usually this is due to improper Flat Filler adjustment, very coarse soil mix or flimsy containers.
- Review Set-Up Procedure Above And Insure Moving Parts of Flat Filler Are Not Contacting Containers And Causing The Problem. Watch them run through empty as well as while being filled very closely to determine if user adjustment is not to blame.
- Inspect Soil Mix to rule out sticks, debris or large bark being the culprit
- Ensure that your containers are not collapsing before they are moved away from their belt position by any machine or soil issues. If so, buy better plastic.
- Also inspect the containers transition from the filling belt to the take-off point. Does the container dip at this transition and cause the problem? If so, add a bridge or an additional roller to the take off point. (A powered roller take-off will cure this too.)
- Last, inspect to see if regulating the amount of soil delivery or changing the position on the belt that the container rides on will help the situation by making these adjustments and running a trial.
- If all of the above is ruled out or if one of the above reasons is to blame but can’t be overcome then hold down rails can be utilized to cure the issue. Their a little cumbersome but they usually work very well.
Q: How can I improve the longevity of my Flat Filler and its soil delivery system?
A: Proper Maintenance, Regular Clean-Up, Dry Storage And Available Upgrades Can Make The Difference Of A Few Yr Lifespan To A Few Decade Lifespan!!!
- Ideally, clean out the soil completely after every use! At the very least, clean the soil out when the machine will not be used again the next morning!!! At the end of use, either open the discharge door on the bottom rear of the Flat Filler Hopper or use a makeshift chute to slide the media out of a belt hopper type machine on the ground by running the soil system independantly. This process is much easier and more effective by using an airhose to help the soil system empty entirely. Water retaining media and fertilizers are the number 1 killer of Flat Fillers!!!!! Get it out after use!!!!
- Visually inspect Soil Chain Tension, Conveyor Belt tracking, Soil Chain & Sprocket Condition, Belt Condition, Bearing Condition, Metal Condition, Adjustment Function And overall machine on a weekly basis. Multiple times a day if there is a repetative problem or a recent repair.
- Grease every greasable bearing after every 200 Hrs of Flat Filler use or every month, whichever is more often. Refer to manufacturer for specific schedules but this is usual good practice. Only 1 pump from grease gun each time, each bearing!!! Don’t grease untill you see grease unless that mistake has been made on that particular bearing previously. MORE IS NOT BETTER!!! You jeopordize the seal and you let dirt in!!!
- Remove gaurds, lube roller chains and tension them if necessary every 600 Hrs or 3 months. (You should be to move most chain a little between sprockets but it should have some resistance to a one finger lift and push) (This DOES NOT refer to the soil chain on drag chain style Flat Fillers!!!)
- Keep indoors or under roof all the time or as often as possible if used as portable unit!!!
- Stainless Steel units and units with Stainless Steel used in wear areas are available on request. Stainless increases the price considerably but it also increases the life expectancy indefinitely. (Rebuilt units with Stainless Replacement Panels are also available.)
- Repainting the steel, that comes into direct contact with the growing media, with a high zinc content coating or with other high quality rust preventative coatings will significantly increase life as well. (Wire brush and thoroughly clean all steel prior to applying any new coating! Prep should be the majority of the job!)
Q: What should I consider when purchasing a new, or new to me, Flat Filler?
A: There are several factors to consider in choosing the ideal Flat Filler for your business.
- The footprint of the compared machines. (How much floor area it requires) If the unit is portable and will be used that way, will it fit through doorways, etc.?
- The media loading height of the Flat Filler. Will it work in your application? (Consider bag loading, Bale Processor loading, Overhead or Incline Conveyor loading, etc.) (An additional conveyor purchase or a loading mezzanine can usually address any loading scenario, but all factors should be considered in making this decision.
- The actual production rates the Flat Filler will produce in your application. Container and Tray sizes will provide different production rates on same machine due to the different amounts of media the containers each hold. If machine is used with Seeder or Transplanter or any supplemental machine that automatically controls the Filler it will impact those numbers and certain supplemental machines may benefit from higher Flat Filler production capabilities.
- Where is the Flat Filler manufactured? Are parts readily available in your area by anyone other than the distributor of the machine? Will that manufacturer be around in ten years? What outlets will you have if the distributor fails?
- Is the Flat Filler manufactured for longevity using materials/ coatings to resist rust and withstand the materials that will be used in it? Question material thickness and specifics regarding primers and protective coatings.
- Direction of container flow as opposed to media loading point. Will this configuration be ideal for your production area/s? Most machines are available as Right to Left as well as Left to Right units but must be ordered that way to begin with!
- Price! What will the return on investment be? Do your production needs justify a $10k Flat And Pot Filler or a $30,000 unit? Does the amount of change-over your application requires justify extra expense of higher-end adjustment mechanisms? Large farms with fast-paced production at high numbers should purchase a hopper over filling conveyor design machine. (They require less maintenance when maintained properly.)
SOIL MIXING EQUIPMENT QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS:
Q: What Factors Should We Consider When Purchasing Soil Mixing Machinery?
A: There are several factors to consider when purchasing Soil Mixing Equipment.
- How many yards of mix will your business require within an hour, a day, a week?
- According to your mix volume needs should you consider Batch Mixing And/Or Continuous Soil Mixing Equipment? Any Volume requirements over 30 Yds. Per Hour will leave no choice other than continuous flow mixing without pre-mixing and stock piling. Either way a Batch Mixer will require loading with pre-measured ingredients and running the machine from 3-20 minutes dependant on mixer size and manufacturer. Then dispensing mix and repeating the process. Continuous Soil Mixing will require keeping each ingredients feed hopper filled and calibrating for particular mix percentages for it to do the rest at a continuous pace. These systems are tailored to the output volume and the ingredients used and are available as fairly simple mechanical systems all the way to touch screen controlled with recipe management software.
- If choosing a Batch Mixer it comes down to preferred manufacturer, mixer hopper size, price and support. (Drag chain hopper mixers are not mixers and do not work!) Keep it indoors if at all possible and don’t forget an incline conveyor and possibly overhead delivery conveyors to support your mix transfer needs.
- If choosing continuous soil mixing then your list of factors to consider is much longer but must be used to provide the proper system for the facility.
A: We are un-matched in this arena but regardless of manufacturer there is a great deal of information that the buyer and builder must share to get this right. Each individual hopper should be sized to support its feed rate and tailored to consistently feed the specific ingredient it will dispense. Mix belt And Hopper Belt Widths should support the maximum output volume required without any spill over. Control System and mix change over steps should support number of mix changes and change over time specified. System configuration should reflect specific facility and production logistics considering material storage, flow, loader size, mix dispensing points, etc. Consider material and coatings used to promote the systems longevity, stainless steel is by far the longest lasting system but is also by far the most expensive. (Don’t buy a mild steel system that is painted without primer!!!)