"S arlacc Pit. Western Trailer’s new Commodity Trailer can unload 747 cwt of potatoes—in almost 66 cubic yards of space—with the help of two of these “gates,” faster than most receivers can handle. Photo by Tyler J. Baum.
"S tep Right Up. Gary Hyland, sales representative for Western Trailers, shows potato growers and processors Western Trailers newest trailer, the Commodity Hopper, designed especially for eastern Idaho growers to transport their product to Simplot’s new facility in Caldwell. The demonstration took place in June at the Hazard Creek Golf Course in Aberdeen, Idaho. Photo by Tyler J. Baum.
When unfortunate things happen, companies adjust.
With the consolidation of three Simplot potato processing plants in Idaho to one plant in Caldwell beginning in 2014, the need arose for a trailer that can better serve eastern Idaho growers.
That’s why Western Trailers released a new trailer for potato growers and processors, debuting in June at the Hazard Creek Golf Course in Aberdeen, Idaho.
The new trailer, called “Commodity Hopper,” is so up-to-date that it’s capable of hauling the maximum legal weight currently allowed on highways, and can unload potatoes faster than most receivers can handle.
In November 2011, Simplot announced that, in order to stay competitive in the food industry market, it would need to close three processing plants in Idaho—Nampa, Caldwell and Aberdeen—to make room for a more energy-efficient, state-of-the-art potato processing facility on the original Caldwell site.
To better serve eastern Idaho growers, who would now need to travel much farther in order to unload their product, Simplot approached Western Trailers for a solution. Western Trailers jumped at the opportunity, putting more hours into this new product than most of their products in order to come up with a better trailer, capable of hauling more, unloading faster and requiring less maintenance.
Gary Hyland, sales representative for Western Trailers, says, “We have over 1,100 hours of engineering time in this trailer.”
The 53-foot trailer will hold 747 cwt of potatoes, with almost 66 cubic yards of space. Engineers used a combination of three to four types, including a refuse trailer, to come up with a concept that distributes weight more evenly.
The trailer itself is rated at 85,000 lbs, but it’s capable of handling even more.
“We’ve test-loaded it, and we put a lot more sacks in it than what it was rated for, just because we wanted to see what it would do.
And it’s a little overbuilt,” he says, “but we’re thinking it may be in fields doing some field loading. That’s why we built it that way.”
Safety and Convenience
To make unloading easier on operators, the bin doors are powered.
“You can stop them anywhere to control unload flow,” Hyland says. “They both open at the same time.”
He points out operators will not want to open the gates all the way, based on the ability of the receiver to handle it. In initial trials, the speed of unloading was “unbelievable.” Western Trailers aimed for a goal of eight minutes to unload, but it appears as though it may be possible at the new Caldwell plant—with their state-of-the-art receivers—to unload completely in as little as five minutes.
A power unit runs the hydraulic motors and the pump. Just in case the battery goes dead at the plant, you can compensate by plugging it in with auxiliary power.
The trailer also features a new tire management system—if a tire gets a hole, it will stay aired—and the ability to lift the axles so the trailer will save fuel when driving empty.
The tarp, which is also powered, can be operated from the front of the trailer as well as with a remote control. And the remote indicates to the operator how much the tarp is open, for safety and convenience.
“The driver can see—without even looking at it—and know that that tarp is still 84 percent open. So he can be in the truck, out of harm’s way,” Hyland says.
Because the trailer is so large, the boom on a piler will need to go through the back end when loading it; however, the truck bumper can back up right against the tires of a Spudnik piler.
The trailer was originally called the “Spud Hopper,” but because it can haul grain as well, Western Trailers changed the name to Commodity Hopper.