To meet the demands of DLF Ireland, Seed Technology Ltd (Seedtech) has worked with BDC Systems Ltd to design and direct the installation of a bespoke grass seed mixing plant.
“We had a small grass seed mixing plant which was very labour intensive and delivered limited output,” explained Nigel Whyte, Seedtech’s general manager. “We needed a plant that would allow us to easily, quickly and accurately mix up to 20 varieties of grass seed to meet the individual seed mixes our customers require.” Waterford-based Seedtech is the leading developer and producer of arable seed varieties for Irish tillage farmers.
“Andrew Lee, BDC Systems’ director and his team were the first on the team sheet for this project. We have a longstanding and trusted relationship with Andrew Lee and for a development of this potential complexity, we understood the value of being able to draw on his vast experience and connections across the grain handling sector.”
During the scoping for this project, Seedtech and BDC Systems evaluated existing plants in the UK, Ireland and Denmark, then set about organising the installation during a ‘down period’ so that the plant would be up and running ahead of the new season.
“Andrew and the entire BDC team provided both onsite and remote support and successfully liaised with all of the contractors to ensure the job of work was completed,” continued Mr Whyte. “As with projects of this size and complexity, there were some time delays but the new plant was fully operational in time for the new season.”
Installation was completed in autumn 2022 by BDC Systems’ longtime partner, Irish Grain Handling Systems Ltd, with support from Castle Facility Electrical Services Ltd. It was commissioned earlier this year.
The system enables up to 20 varieties of seed to be drawn from individual storage hoppers and then mixed to deliver specific results. “We designed a PLC control panel for the plant which integrates with Seedtech’s warehouse management system (WMS) so that the necessary automation could be achieved,” said Mr Lee.
Grass seed is received into the plant in 2m3 bags and placed over an above-ground intake equipped with a splitting knife, which automatically opens the bag. Seed is then transported via a Skandia elevator which discharges seed onto a conveyor where it is taken to the appropriate hopper.
Each hopper is a BM Silio 20m x 1.5m unit, with rounded corners to prevent lodging. They are individually mounted on four weigh cells. Seed orders can then be controlled via the PLC control panel and the WMS so that the exact amount of seed is drawn from the correct hoppers.
This is controlled by a rotary seal, which acts as a mechanical metering system. The weigh cells identify when the correct amount has been extracted and automatically close the seal. From here, the seed goes into a premix buffer hopper and is discharged, via another Skandia belt and bucket elevator, into the mixer.
As soon as the mixer is full, the PLC and WMS gather seed for the next mix and move this to the premix buffer. If necessary, small amounts of seed can be manually weighed and added before the seed reaches the mixer.
“Our new grass seed mixing plant has been fully operational for almost four months and whilst we are still adapting to the system, we are extremely happy with how it is working for us,” stated Mr Whyte. “But, more importantly, the Seedtech employees who run the plant are happy and proud to be working in such a state-of-the-art facility.
“The automation has greatly reduced manual handling which is crucial as finding good quality employees is a growing struggle. Reduced labour costs, reduced overtime, increased accuracy in mixing and increased output, deliver significant savings to our business.
“It pays to engage with a partner like Andrew Lee and the entire BDC System team. Andrew understands the importance of putting time and effort into the planning and design stage of any project. Plus, he brings a bank of knowledge and expertise to the table and can correctly interpret the feedback from customers, especially from those who will be operating at the coalface of the project. The end result is that everyone’s expectations are not just met, but exceeded,” concluded Mr Whyte.
For more information go to www.bdcsystems.com