Time is Money

Published online: Jan 15, 2021 Articles, Potato Equipment, Potato Harvesting
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This article appears in the January 2021 issue of Potato Grower.

Lockwood Manufacturing has upgraded the potato handling game by pairing its VACS Mobile with the company’s new Mobile Tank. The Mobile Tank continues Lockwood’s trend of self-contained mobility in potato handling. With these two pieces of machinery working together, harvest setup is getting a streamlined efficiency, saving growers time and money. 

The Mobile Tank is a perfect addition for any pre-storage cleaning system, designed to complement Lockwood’s already efficient VACS Mobile and VACS-8. This new piece of equipment provides a controlled flow of product, allowing growers to maximize efficiency during harvest. 

Here, we offer an easy, two-stage process to show how potato growers can maximize profits by leaving dirt in the field and just clean potatoes in storage—eliminating the need to haul wasted loads of trash, rock and debris back to the field. 

Stage 1: Mobile Tank—Flow Control 

So what is it, and why is it so great? Lockwood’s Mobile Tank is a strategically designed surge hopper, maximizing the ability for the cleaning and handling line to have a constant flow of product. With a consistent flow from field to storage, equipment is more effective and efficient. 

Completely contained on a customized semi-trailer, the Mobile Tank is 100 percent hydraulically powered by two wet kits and incorporates an intuitive touchscreen user interface. Setup time is minimal—another crucial factor to growers during harvest season. This makes the Mobile Tank perhaps the industry’s most agile potato handling unit, exceeding both industry standards and customer expectations with regards to transport and setup time reduction. The Mobile Tank can be moved from location to location at posted highway speeds, and because of the telescoping elevator can be set up and operational in minutes. 

With efficiency and product handling top-of-mind, Lockwood strategically designed the Mobile Tank unloading belt to have varying speed control, manually adjustable by the operator to customize the cleaning equipment requirements. Even more, the tank discharge utilizes a baffle to minimize pile roll and surging. This maintains a consistent flow into the cleaning device elevator. The elimination of internal baffles means minimizing product bruising. No detail was overlooked—from complete machine illumination for safety and night operation to the holding tank designed to reduce product bruising and skinning, all while allowing complete unloading and reducing buildup. 

After the potatoes have been windrowed, picked up, transferred to trucks, and prepared to be cleaned for storage, drivers can bring their loads to the Mobile Tank, which is equipped with three stingers to maximize the number of trucks that can unload and keep product flowing. After potatoes pass through the Mobile Tank, they are evenly and consistently supplied to the VACS Mobile. 

Stage 2: VACS Mobile—Potato Cleaning 

Launched in 2018, The VACS Mobile took the industry by storm and is best described as “the ultimate mobile cleaning machine.” Mounted on a single semi-trailer and towable at highway speeds, the VACS Mobile is a leader in potato cleaning efficiency. Like the Mobile TANK, it is entirely self-powered, requiring no outside power source to operate, and its four available Quick-Change tables outnumber any competition. 

Potatoes first pass over the Quick-Change cleaning tables, which are customizable to any operation, soil type and potato variety. All Lockwood tables are hydraulic drive, offering infinite speed and roller pitch adjustment (and ease of switching tables). The additional hydraulics added to the VACS Mobile also allow the machine operator total control of all the different adjustments right from the control box. With only eight bolts, two hydraulic quick couplers, and approximately one hour’s time, the operator can be ready to go again with the table each field and product needs. 

Loose trash, dirt and debris are easily separated from the potatoes as they pass over the cleaning tables before entering the vacuum cleaning chamber. With the aid of high-volume air, loads of potatoes can be cleaned easily while minimizing damage as it efficiently removes additional rocks, dirt, vines, corn trash and other debris effortlessly. The VACS Mobile uses industry-leading technology and design to separate potatoes from rocks and field trash by gently lifting only the potatoes from the vacuum chamber to be discharged by conveyer on one side of the machine, while debris is discharged on the other. 

Tare conveyors are all telescopic, bidirectional and speed-controlled, featuring common discharge points and the ability to segregate tare by components. The VACS Mobile is one of the largest-volume capacity machines available. Cleaned potatoes are then ready for storage. 

Complete Mobile Solution 

The Mobile Tank and VACS Mobile are so easy to move between fields, that in minimal time, a grower can have the entire cleaning and handling line set up right on the edge of the field. The system promises no more trips to storage with uncleaned potatoes, and no more return trips with trucks hauling dirt and trash. Farmers can leave the dirt where it belongs: in the field. 

The VACS Mobile is the industry leader in a mobile system for cleaning potatoes and having them ready for storage with minimal setup, manpower and extra labor. By adding the Mobile TANK to their lineup, growers ensure that their potato cleaning systems will operate at maximum efficiency by controlling the flow of product into the machine. 

Learn more about Lockwood’s mobile family at www.lockwoodmfg.com