North America Farm Equipment Magazine is pleased to present an interview with WCCO Belting regarding the hemp belt they provided to FormationAg for machinery to harvest CBD oil. Here is the full-text. For more information visit their site
What are the challenges that your manager (the belting expert) has faced in these projects?
Conveyor belts are typically an afterthought, often regarded as just another component part. The reality is the belt is the essence of the conveyor system. Although the physical differences from one belt to the next can be indecipherable to the untrained eye, the right belt will make or, quite literally, break the operation. The belt needs to be considered early in the process to ensure the correct rollers, take-up, return system, trough type and drive system are sufficient. For example, a conveyor built with small drive rollers is limited in the size of the conveyor belt the machine can operate with, which will limit the load it can carry and reduce the overall performance of the system.
When an equipment manufacturer contacts a belting supplier after the equipment design is finalized, the support the belting supplier can provide in improving conveyor function and harvest performance is significantly limited. If the manufacturer is ready for field testing and the belt is one of the last steps, in WCCO Belting’s experience, they are more reluctant to feedback when its belting experts recognize areas for improvement. Projects are more successful when the engineering teams of each business work directly together to define the customer’s requirements to create the most optimal solution.
What are the strengths for which WCCO has been chosen?
When FormationAg was designing the harvesting implement and conveyor system for industrial hemp, they went looking for a draper belt supplier. WCCO Belting is the belting industry’s leading value innovator and serves as the supplier of choice for most major agricultural equipment manufacturers in the world. WCCO’s patented Raptor® Draper Belting is the global gold standard. By researching the application and operating requirements, WCCO Belting develops product solutions that redefine field performance and reduce total cost of ownership.
How long has WCCO belting been active and has it been dealing with similar issues?
WCCO Belting has been manufacturing belting products from its facility in Wahpeton, North Dakota, for over 66 years. WCCO is an acronym for Wahpeton Canvas Company, and from swather canvas to rubber belting, it has innovated its technology alongside the kings of industry to match the expanding operating requirements of modern equipment. It exports to over 20 countries and supplies most major agricultural equipment manufacturers in the world. WCCO Belting’s process of researching the application and identifying the customer requirements maximizes belt performance, increases user satisfaction, and drives the bottom line of the entire operation.
What are the main characteristics for which this brand is more performing?
WCCO Belting focuses on the technological advancement of each belt component and raw material to provide a superior finished product. The rubber compound is a custom formula specific to the agricultural industry. The fabric WCCO Belting uses in the wide variety of its rubber products is also custom engineered and tailored to improve performance in a specific application.
The belting used by FormationAg for harvesting CBD oil from hemp is manufactured with cleats. WCCO Belting uses a proprietary single-step vulcanization process using a combination of extreme heat and pressure to permanently mold and cure belt components to the raw belt construction (uncured rubber and fabric). No glue or chemicals are involved. The result is an integrally molded belt that shares the same properties throughout which improves belt life. The process also eliminates the risk of cleat delamination in the field.
How long did it take to design the customized product?
FormationAg contacted WCCO Belting early in their conveyor system design process, and as a result, received a custom solution for their hemp harvesting equipment and successfully completed two rounds of field testing within nine months. WCCO Belting delivered their first product one month after initial contact.
In WCCO Belting’s experience, their willingness to bring a belting expert to the design table reduced the average design and testing process by half. In addition, the custom product they received is the most optimal solution for their application and specific to the function of FormationAg equipment.
What problems did you encounter? How the engineers did manage to solve them?
WCCO Belting and FormationAg worked through the project together, engineering team to engineering team, to determine the operating requirements. For example, they discussed where the strength of the belt was needed, crop load-wear, serviceability, and the most effective connection method. Any time a business is designing a new piece of equipment, there will be revisions. The back-and-forth of those details can be easily lost in translation if the subject matter experts aren’t connected.
Why don’t you tell us about the people who worked on the project? How many years of experience do they have?
The Senior Product Development Engineer from WCCO Belting has been an employee for over twenty years. His career has been focused on developing belting solutions for a variety of agricultural equipment including but not limited to draper platforms, pickup headers, balers, cotton pickers, tube conveyors, material handling conveyors, seed tenders, trailers, and more. He attended the University of North Dakota and has had a lifelong interest in agriculture from growing up on a farm in North Dakota.