2017 - Volume #41, Issue #3, Page #02[ Sample Stories From This Issue | List of All Stories In This Issue | Print this story | Read this issue]
Revolutionary Silage Bagger Machine Being Tested In Iowa
“It’s been a long process with many ups and downs along the way, including having two potential manufacturers pull the plug on development agreements at the 11th hour,” says Koelker. “After that I totally thought the machine would never get beyond my farm. Then a customer for the plastic wrap I sell showed up and we started talking. One thing led to another and eventually the two of us charted a new direction.”
Koelker’s customer was Matt Mills, who operates Mills Mid-Iowa Machinery, a short-line equipment dealership that serves farmers across southeast Iowa. Before opening his dealership, Mills had spent nearly 30 years on product design and equipment development. That experience told him that Koelker’s idea had merit. Within a short time Koelker and Mills formed an alliance to see the Ram Pack through development and production.
Mills and Koelker say the game plan is to field trial and perfect the current prototype during 2017 and market production machines in 2018. The Ram Pack, which bags silage, grain, compost, and other materials into a continuous-fed poly bag, is powered by tractor pto. Bazooka Farm Star will have worldwide distribution rights for the production model, while Koelker Plastics and Mills Mid-Iowa Machinery will have sole dealership rights in Iowa.
Koelker says when the idea for Ram Pack came to him back in 2006 he knew it had merit. At the time he was farming and custom bagging silage. He knew there had to be a way to speed up the slow and tedious process of bagging. “One day I was bagging and in a nearby field the farmer was making large square bales, and I realized that concept might also work for bagging silage.”
Koelker put his thoughts on paper and sketched out a machine that used a plunger to fill a plastic forage bag rather than a rotor or auger like existing machines. His first prototype, which he says was about 1/4 the size of what he’d eventually need, used the feeding and plunger mechanism from a small square baler. Koelker says “It worked great, so I decided to patent the idea and build a full-size machine to make sure it worked at that size.”
During the search for a suitable manufacturer, Koelker had 3 pre-production units made by a local welding shop. “Although the fit and finish was acceptable, the units had one major flaw: the dual rams put too much torque on the gearboxes and ultimately the gearboxes failed. This has been addressed on the current prototype being engineered, designed, and built by Bazooka FarmStar of Washington, Iowa.”
Both Koelker and Mills say the Ram Pack has advantages over other machines currently on the market. “Rotary or auger-fill machines need a large tractor to power them. The Ram Pack has dual plungers that gain inertia from a flywheel, just like a baler. A lower horsepower tractor will keep that flywheel turning and save fuel,” Mills says.
Koelker says that after 11 years of working on his invention he now believes all the elements are in place to make it a successful commercial machine.
Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Matt Mills, Mills Midiow Machinery, 1645 Highway 163, Otley, Iowa 50214 (ph 641-627-5648; email@example.com).
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