Only in America
Leading Edge Industries, a startup company located in Groton, S.D., may be on its way to changing the agricultural industry after unveiling the Load Judge at this year's Big Iron Farm Show.
"The problem was that there was nothing out there that we could either see or use to observe [grain loads] in dusty conditions," says Shawn Gengerke, founder of Leading Edge Industries and a fourth generation soybean farmer in Groton. "We needed to build technology to overcome that."
Through the latest "smart" technologies, Gengerke, who has more than 25 years of experience in farming, saw an opportunity to solve one of agriculture's oldest problems. According to Gengerke, loading grain onto a semi at a farm or an elevator created a lot of dirt and dust, which made load observation difficult.
In his experience, Gengerke had two primary options to judge a load: Overflowing his load a little to know it was full, or having employees climb the truck's vertical ladder to observe the load.
The former option was illegal and Gengerke could've been ticketed for it, and the latter option was unsafe for employees because of dirt and dust inhalation. Even using a camera for load observation was ineffective, as dirt could block the camera's lens and damage the camera.
"We saw a gap in the ag industry where there was nothing to help us accomplish our goal, and that is what brought us to developing the Load Judge," Gengerke says.
The full Load Judge kit consists of six proximity sensors that are installed in a truck, a quick-attach plug that connects the sensors to the trailer clearing lighting system, a moisture sensor and a Wi-Fi device that submits load data to the operator's smart device. Load Judge is controlled by its own application, which can be downloaded onto an iPad, tablet PC or smartphone.
"The data gets tracked real-time on a Wi-Fi network to any smart device. It could be your phone, it could be an iPad," Gengerke says. "The biggest advantage is you can monitor your grain trailer from the seat of your cab and you can do it accurately."
Gengerke sees numerous time, financial and safety benefits for farmers and truckers who decide to invest in the Load Judge.
Having researched patents through the International Patent Search, Gengerke is certain that the Load Judge is the only technology of its kind in the world.
"It's going to make it much more efficient in loading your truck. You'll be able to do it much faster; you'll be able to do it with one person. It'll also prevent you from overloading your truck and incurring a ticket for overweight," Gengerke says.
"A lot of the time, we have retired farmers that help us harvest. They climb up and down these ladders, load up the truck, and move it at the right time -- they just physically can't do it. They slip on these vertical ladders on these trailers, not to mention the environment. It's not healthy breathing in all of that dust."
Graphics on the Load Judge application provide the user with information regarding proximity levels of the grain, height levels of the grain, moisture levels, and estimates pounds of bushels, which Gengerke describes as a one of the "biggest benefits of all."
"The beauty of it is once you decide to load your truck a certain way at a certain weight, this is what gives you the capability of repeating that load. Every load on the money; that's what our slogan has been because that's truly what it does," Gengerke says.
Farmers will need a smart device to run the Load Judge, which has been under development since 2011.
The price of the kit is not official, but Gengerke says it will range from $6,000 to $6,500. A patent for the Load Judge is pending, but will be available for purchase in December 2013.