There is a limited window of time for a grower to successfully harvest hemp for CBD oil production. They need to trust their equipment to function as designed, and the right belt will support their bottom-line goals.

Quality Equipment is Key in Harvesting Hemp for CBD Oil Production
Quality Equipment is Key in Harvesting Hemp for CBD Oil Production

Q&A with | WCCO Belting

Tell us about yourself and your company.  

WCCO Belting is a 66-year-old, family-owned and award-winning custom rubber product manufacturer serving the agriculture, light industrial, construction, sand and gravel, packaging and recycling industries worldwide. The company is the value innovator in the global rubber belting industry, engineering custom products using specialized equipment and proprietary processes. WCCO focuses on the technological advancement of each raw material and belt component to match the specific requirements of a conveyor system. Its design and manufacturing expertise are effective in reducing the total cost of ownership for their customers’ conveying operations. 


How is your product used in the harvesting of hemp?

WCCO Belting supplies rubber belting for use on Formation Ag’s CleanCut Harvester. The header platform uses a two-ply conveyor belt construction with a 0.531” (13.5mm) cleat. It conveys material to the right side of the header for unloading. The second belt is used in the offload conveyor, an optional part for moving material into a truck or cart, and it is a two-ply belt construction with a 1.5” (38.1mm) cleat. Both belts are low-profile constructions manufactured with high strength inputs. They are strong yet thin which improves the energy efficiency of the equipment. The bottom layer of the belt is a sliderback, meaning it is just bare fabric, which promotes a smooth transition and gentle handling of the plants. In addition, the rubber compound is a high-quality, custom-engineered formula specific to handling seed and crop in the agricultural industry.

Both cleated belt constructions are manufactured with WCCO Belting’s proprietary single-step vulcanization process.  Unlike belt fabricators that use an adhesive, such as glue, to add belt components to a cured belt construction, WCCO uses a combination of extreme heat and pressure to permanently mold and cure raw rubber cleat extrusions to the raw belt construction (uncured rubber and fabric). The result is an integrally molded belt that shares the same properties throughout, which our customers, like FormationAg, can rely on for increased durability in the field.


Why is a good belt important when harvesting hemp? 

There is a limited window of time for a grower to successfully harvest hemp for CBD oil production. They need to trust their equipment to function as designed, and the right belt will support their bottom-line goals. WCCO Belting supplies most major agricultural equipment manufacturers in the world with its products and is known for its superior and consistent quality. As the industry expert, WCCO Belting’s product development team worked with the FormationAg engineering team to determine the product performance specifications for their unique equipment based on the most optimal harvesting process for CBD oil.


How can the belt you are using on your harvesting equipment impact your production?

With an automobile, a driver can increase gas mileage, improve traction control, and enjoy a more smooth, quiet ride with the right tires. Similarly, a quality belt will improve the function of the conveyor system and the grower’s production. It will shrink downtime and quantity of repairs, reduce energy consumption, improve yield and product quality, and increase equipment efficiency. Belt properties can be tailored to the application. For example, an oil-resistant rubber compound can be used for harvesting a product like canola.

A belting manufacturer’s understanding of rubber, fabric, components and technical specifications plays a critical role in field performance. WCCO Belting seeks to understand the operational goals of an application and the specific actions critical to the success of the conveying process.  Its product development team then designs solutions to compliment the conveyor system and its individual requirements. This approach provides value that drives the bottom-line.


What belt qualities will help garner the most CBD oil during production?

To support the CBD oil harvesting process, WCCO Belting provided FormationAg with a two-ply, low-profile belt construction that’s manufactured with a custom-engineered fabric specific to agricultural applications. The bottom layer of the belt is a sliderback, meaning it is just bare fabric, while helps it roll smoothly over the rollers for gentle handling to reduce risk to the oil-producing part of the plant. The rubber compound is a high-quality, proprietary formula to WCCO Belting for handling seed and crop.  


How can belting manufacturers design conveying solutions to match specific conveyor systems for harvesting?

A belting manufacturer must understand the design of the conveyor system used in the harvesting process to provide an effective belting solution. This analysis involves conversations between the belting manufacturer’s product development team and the equipment manufacturer’s design team. Once the operating requirements are defined, an experienced belt manufacturer will engineer the most optimal product to support harvesting success. 


What do hemp harvesters need to know in order to choose a better belt both for hemp harvesting and any other agricultural equipment in their operation?

Hemp harvesters know that downtime is critical, so sourcing products from a trusted, reliable supplier is an easy way to have a positive impact on the operation. Researching and identifying the belt manufacturer helps to ensure consistent quality, and therefore, peak performance of the equipment. A rubber belting manufacturer has the ability to engineer products that meet the unique needs of the customer, whereas alternatively, there are an abundance “one size fits all” fabricated products that could substantially hinder machine function in the field.

WCCO Belting vulcanizes the raw rubber and fabric internally which provides it with fundamental visibility and control over the properties of the finished products. WCCO is also vertically integrated business with a short supply-chain, which further demonstrates its conviction to product quality and responsive service. The belt is the essence of the conveyor system, and working with an industry expert with proven capabilities and proficient processes best supports the operational goals of the customer.


What other agricultural applications can benefit from choosing the proper belt?

Any operation that uses a conveyor system and conveyor belt will benefit from working with a rubber product expert during the equipment design process. Matching the belt to the application’s requirements can provide differentiation, reduce total cost of ownership, and increase customer satisfaction. From the harvester’s perspective, the proper belt will increase uptime, equipment efficiency, and the bottom-line.

The content & opinions in this article are the author’s and do not necessarily represent the views of AgriTechTomorrow

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