By John Johnson
A module tracking system is the latest innovation in PCCA’s never-ending quest to develop and provide enhanced services to its members and to gins. The system helps make ginning operations more efficient and creates a new revenue stream for PCCA.
“We were approached by a gin in Gaines County, Texas, to develop the module tracking system,” says Joe Tubb, PCCA’s Vice President of Information Systems. “So, we began writing the software and successfully ran a pilot program at Ocho Gin in 2012,” Tubb added. As the 2013 harvest got underway, nine gins were utilizing the system.
The system facilitates gin module inventory and module processes from the field to the finished bale. To accomplish this, the system utilizes smart phone apps and web-based programs developed and maintained by PCCA staff which integrates with existing gin scale and module truck scale systems to allow management of the gin module inventory.
“We will install one piece of software on an existing PCCA computer in the gin office to communicate with the scale system software in the gin plant,” Tubb explains. “Since the rest of the system is web based, there would not be any additional equipment needed in the gin office.”
Gin personnel can identify farms by GPS locations in their office using the map software supplied in the system. Modules called in by the producer are logged in on the call-in screen. If the gin tags and/or tarps the modules, an account information adhesive tag can be printed to attach to the module tag. A Module Location mobile app allows for scanning the module tag, locating the module, photographing the module and uploading the information to the module tracking system via a smart phone with cellular data service. If no data service is available at the module location, the information is saved and can be uploaded once cellular data service or Wi-Fi access is available.
When dispatched to pick up a module, directions are printed for the truck driver. Consisting of two pages, the first is a map showing directions to the farm, and the second page provides directions to the module if it was located with the mobile phone app. It also shows the yard location to unload the module at the gin.
“This system is still a work in progress,” Tubb adds, “and we can customize it for each gin. If internet service is interrupted, the computer keeps gathering data while ginning continues.” The system also allows for module ginning scheduling and turnout adjustments.
Two of the features that have been well received are the gin monitor and yard inventory web screens. The yard inventory screen shows the location of modules on the yard and is refreshed automatically every 30 seconds, giving a real-time representation of the module inventory on the gin yard. The gin monitor screen shows the last 10 modules weighed on the truck scale and the last 10 bales ginned along with current shift and year-to-date ginning statistics. This screen also refreshes automatically every 30 seconds, and is popular with gin managers because the screen allows them to monitor the progress of ginning from an iPad from any location with a Wi-Fi or cellular connection.