The Automated Production Systems (AP) Flow Hammer feed flow device is a patent-pending product that aids in the prevention of out-of-feed events in all phases of swine production. A low-frequency, high-impact design helps minimize feed bridging by having the Flow Hammer strike a bin up to 60 times per minute with 500 lb. of force when there is a feed flow problem. The Flow Hammer is mounted to the bin collar on the outside of the bin and will fit on most 16-in. bin collars on new or existing bins.

Both timed and sensor-controlled versions of the Flow Hammer are available. According to Brian Rieck, AP product manager, the timed controller uses an on/off cycle timer to control the Flow Hammer when the feed system is running. The sensor controller uses a sensing device to determine if there is a feed flow issue and then activates the Flow Hammer. Once the feed is flowing again, the Flow Hammer shuts off. The Flow Hammer runs on a 220-volt power supply.

Leon Sheets asked about maintenance for the device. Rieck said there are three bearings inside that should be greased every 60-90 days. Initial installation takes around 30 minutes, plus wiring, he explained. The Flow Hammer can be installed whether bins are full or empty.

Panel members joked about the fact that feed flow events are sometimes addressed with a boot heel or hammer to the side of the bin. Recognizing that blows to a bin can cause damage at times, Paul Yeske, DVM, asked how many times the flow hammer could hit the bin without causing some damage to the bin collar.

Rieck explained that a strike plate is installed with the Flow Hammer. “We have tested the Flow Hammer for over 4,000 hours in a test facility,” he said. “We are very confident that we don’t have a product that is going to damage or destroy the bin.”  Initial testing showed that vibratory flow devices did cause metal fatigue and loosened fasteners on empty feed bins, leading to the development of the current low-frequency, high-impact Flow Hammer design.

Rieck said the Flow Hammer comes with a one-year warranty. The Flow Hammer costs $1,595 for the hammer, strike plate, controller and all hardware. There would be an additional charge for the optional feed sensor versions.

The panel acknowledged that with higher corn prices leading to the use of more alternative feed ingredients, flowability issues will continue to challenge producers. They also thought the price was a bit steep.

Learn more about the Flow Hammer at www.automatedproduction.com.