Fiber Moisture Control optimizes production (bales per week).
Cotton gins benefit from fiber moisture control by producing more bales per week of a higher quality and turnout than is possible without it. They further benefit from the relationships this capability brings them with their growers.
When a cotton gin can increase the number of bales it gins in a given week, the revenue generated by “extra” bales shows up as profit, after recurring expenses like bagging and ties are deducted. For this reason, gins must concentrate on production for their economic survival. The number one problem in maintaining consistent production in a cotton gin is the weather and the unpredictable conditions that result from it. A powerful drying system that responds quickly to changing cotton conditions is a key tool in compensating for unpredictable cotton. If the system is slow to respond to fast changing conditions, chokes occur and downtime from clearing chokes limits gin profit. Ginners know this and, too often, the solution is to operate with high temperatures to compensate for unpredictable conditions. This harms staple, strength, and other fiber properties for the grower and mill, and increases the drying fuel expense for the gin. No one profits when this strategy is used to maintain production (except the gas supplier!).
Fiber Moisture Control minimizes waste of drying fuel.
A powerful fiber moisture control and drying system will respond faster than possible under manual control to changes in cotton condition and use the right amount of heat to avoid fiber damage while maintaining production. This saves staple, strength, and fuel. The faster the gin runs, the more responsive the system must be.
Fiber Moisture Control increases capacity of existing gin stands.
In dry ginning conditions when the seed cotton is also dry, saw gins can do a lot of damage to fiber properties, even when they turn off the heat and reduce ginning rate. This is due to brittleness of the fiber. Losses of 1/16” in fiber length are not uncommon in very dry conditions. A ginner may comment that it looks like any investment made in seed cotton conditioning is going to benefit only the grower and mill, with the gin left hanging to pay for and operate the machinery to accomplish it. Although the majority of benefit is certainly for the grower, the gin is not left in the cold. In dry conditions, each gin stand operating with conditioned seed cotton increases its capacity by 5-20%. Lint cleaner operation is also improved resulting in a significant increase in weekly production. One three-stand high capacity plant improved production from 1,000 bales per 24 hours to more than 1,200 bales per 24 hours by the addition of only seed cotton conditioning equipment. Nice side effects include a reduction in airborne dust and small fiber for the gin’s operating personnel. If moisture restoration at the press is being used, seed cotton conditioning will improve the performance of the final restoration system significantly (3-5 pounds of additional moisture is typical).
Fiber Moisture Control increases press capacity.
Nothing is more frustrating than watching a high capacity gin crippled by a fluffy batt of lint cotton at the press that is difficult to press. The lint charging system at the press cannot move it efficiently and once it is inside the tramper system, it tends to spill out jamming the press and hampering the press crew. If the hydraulic system of the press is marginal or inadequate, a 500 pound bale may be impossible. Warm, humid air is the cure for these problems. Even better is this same humid air applied to the batt under compression, as in the Steamroller Lint Conditioner. The result is a batt that is easy to move from the charger into the press, easy on the tramper, easy on the press hydraulic system, and bale tie friendly. Shut height can be maintained easily for modern strapping systems. Hydraulic pressure is typically reduced by 40% when a Steamroller is used making everything faster, safer, and more efficient. Gins using Steamrollers at the press increase their weekly capacity by an average of 322 bales per week due to these factors. (As the grower receives a turnout increase of 18 pounds per bale in the process, a Steamroller is not bad for the gin’s marketing effort either!)
Questions from gins about fiber moisture control:
Our ginner feels that he can get the most bales out the door by setting the temperatures high and leaving them there. I know that this is not good for the grower or mill, but our gin is suffering and I can’t ignore the benefits of more bales each week. If we implement cotton conditioning techniques, will we be able to hold our present production levels achieved with the high temperatures?
Amazingly enough, you will not only be able to hold your present production levels, you will increase them. Dry, overheated cotton is not the ideal situation for today’s high capacity gin stands and lint cleaners. The reason your present production has improved with the ginner using high temperatures is that he has eliminated “surprises” at the module feeder from unexpected wet cotton. He is saving downtime caused by chokes, but he is not able to run the gin machinery at the most efficient level. Good cotton conditioning techniques will let him minimize the downtime from surprises, while also letting the machinery operate under correct moisture conditions. You will see a further increase in weekly production.
We spray water to restore moisture at our press. This saves the energy of using a moist air generator like the Humidaire Unit. Why don’t we get the same batt compression and reduction in hydraulic pressure from this restoration method as with humid air?
Cotton fibers respond to the combination of warmth and moisture in a manner that enhances lint compression significantly. This makes a big difference on both the speed and maintenance of the gin’s press, which is the single largest investment in most cotton gins. When performing the economic analysis of using spray systems as opposed to humid air generators, we recommend looking at the expense to the gin of operating the humid air generator and, at the same time, comparing this to the benefits to the gin from improvement of press performance. A useful interactive Return on Investment Calculator is available to help with this analysis.
It might be my imagination, but our gin seems to run better at night. Does this have anything to do with “cotton conditioning” techniques?
Absolutely. Your night ginner is using the most cost-effective cotton conditioning technique available! Relative humidity increases appreciably at night. This helps optimize the fiber for the saw gins and lint cleaners. One of our goals at Samuel Jackson is to provide the day ginner with the same advantages the night ginner enjoys by artificially reproducing, and in most cases accentuating, these conditions within the ginning system. In addition, we have discovered techniques to reproduce them in ambient conditions ranging from 10 degrees F to 120 degrees F.
Some of this cotton conditioning machinery is relatively inexpensive and some is very significant in cost. We are just a small gin. What is a good strategy for being able to pay for the more expensive systems if we decide to go in that direction?
Do not waste money by purchasing machinery that cannot be reused! When you work with Samuel Jackson engineers, they will always hold the preservation of your capital expenditures as top priority. This provides an economic staircase that is easily climbable by any gin given some time. In addition, you may want to investigate tools that let you pay by the bale such as the Time and Bales Program.