Levels of Automation in Grain Handling

Levels of Automation - Which Level is Right for You?

As a provider of turnkey control systems, automation, and system integration for the grain industry, Kasa Controls & Automation has a mission to improve safety, efficiency, and throughput. To empower our customers and help them determine the level of automation they need, we developed a proprietary Levels of Automation guide. Let’s explore each level and its benefits.

Level 0 – Hardwired Control

At the bottom level, Level 0 provides minimum automation, allowing users to interlock to other systems and automatically stop equipment. It also offers a simplified audible/visual alarms summary. At this level, operators must know the time to run conveyors for a clear path before shutting it down. There is also a higher cost per bushel and a bigger risk for error.

Level 1 – Mimic Panel

Level 1 offers the same features as Level 0 as well as the need for operators to know the time to run conveyors. The cost per bushel is slightly less, as is the risk of errors.

Level 2 – Touch Screen 

Usability improves at Level 2, offering centralized control of operations. Alarm status is an additional benefit of this level, as well as conveyor hour meters. Level 2 cost per bushel and risk of errors are similar to Level 1.

If you have a small elevator with no plans for expansion, Level 1 or Level 2 is an acceptable option.

Level 3 – PC Based

Considerably more automation occurs at Level 3, with path clearing timers and advanced conveyor interlocking to ensure the conveyor runs the correct amount of time, thereby reducing energy requirements while increasing utilization.

With Level 3, you can also automate path selection and aeration fan control. Within status and indication functionality, you have access to communication agnostics. Users also have advanced system performance features: commodity checking, real-time trending on amps, temperature, and power, adjustable equipment setpoints, and hazard monitoring. You can also print real-time or historical reports, remotely view and control, and connect through email and text messaging.

Level 4 – Database and Web Enabled

Automation’s top tier, Level 4 achieves the highest utilization, lowest cost per bushel, and the least risk of errors.

With Level 4, you can enjoy:

  • Rail loadout recipes for repeatable results
  • More robust user security
  • Audit log access
  • Commodity tracking
  • Hazard monitoring with historical data retrieval
  • A full suite of data handling features: reports, database access, and equipment maintenance tracking
  • Full-scale connectivity, including third-party software
  • And more!

With Level 4, there are definite advantages with reports and data to initiate better use of energy, foster efficiency, and track equipment uptime.

Download - Levels of Automation Brochure

What Level Is Right for You?

While you’ll gain more from Level 3 or Level 4, we understand that you need to have a clear picture of the ROI of such an investment. It comes down to your specific goals and needs. With Level 3 or Level 4, you can achieve:

  • Increased equipment utilization with a programmable system that works like your best operator
  • Reduced operating expenses
  • Decreased risk of contamination of bins or user errors
  • Less risk of equipment failure and overload with real-time information and preprogrammed alarms
  • The ability to interface with other business and software systems for seamless workflows

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