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Published July 16, 2012, 10:14 AM

Sensing opportunity

Larry Mosbrucker has unloaded a lot of trucks in his life. Now, he says, he’s invented a product that makes the job easier.

By: Jonathan Knutson, Agweek

Larry Mosbrucker has unloaded a lot of trucks in his life. Now, he says, he’s invented a product that makes the job easier.

Mosbrucker, of New Salem, N.D., has developed StopSensor, a device designed to simplify loading and unloading trucks. He plans to begin selling it, at a cost of $1,500, at the North Dakota State Fair, July 20 to 28 in Minot.

“The key is the simplicity. It’s easy to set up, and anyone can use it,” he says.

StopSensor uses a patent-pending sensor and special reflectors to detect when trailers are properly aligned for loading or unloading. The device also provides built-in illumination for unloading at night, Mosbrucker says.

The product can be used by farmers, grain elevators, agronomy centers and other agricultural businesses that rely on trucks. He plans to develop a similar device for grain carts.

Many farms across the region struggle to find truck drivers, especially during harvest. StopSensor can help larger farming operations get by with fewer drivers, Mosbrucker says. The device also can make it easier for older farmers, who are bothered by getting in and out of trucks repeatedly, to stay active, he adds.

And it’s not just for farming. StopSensor can be used in other industries that require trucks to be loaded and unloaded, he says. The product is one of the 2012 winners in the Innovate ND competition, a North Dakota Department of Commerce program designed to help entrepreneurs in the state.

Injury was impetus

Mosbrucker was a farmer and commercial hay producer until 2004, when he fell from a semi-trailer and badly injured his heels.

“That ended my farming career,” he says.

After extensive rehabilitation, he worked as a coal truck driver in Colorado and, later, for a large farming operation in North Dakota.

His injury made it painful for him to get in and out of trucks to make sure the vehicle was positioned properly for loading and unloading.

“I figured there had to be a better way,” he says.

Drawing on his years of experience with trucks, Mosbrucker worked with a Bismarck, N.D., engineering firm to develop the sensing device. In 2009, he came up with a prototype that subsequently was tested extensively.

“This is completely proven,” he says.

StopSensor is manufactured by the electronic division of Richardton, N.D.-based Amber Waves.

The plan is to update the StopSensor website to allow customers to buy the product online. Mosbrucker hopes that will happen before the North Dakota State Fair begins.

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