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Precautions Necessary For Handling Round Modules

Few people expected the use of round modules to grow so rapidly, but now almost all gins have some cotton in round modules. Even though the introduction of the round module was met with apprehension, ginners have now accepted them and lauded their many advantages. However, the handling of round modules at the gin is still a work-in-progress. There are a number of methods being used by ginners to transport rounds to the gin, with the use of standard module trucks being the most popular. Some ginners are using flatbed trucks and trailers. I have heard of several different ways of loading rounds on beds, and each offers advantages given the particular gin location and laws.

In some cases, up to eight rounds or about 45,000 pounds of cotton can be transported to the gin in one trip. This offers some advantages, especially when long field-to-gin distances exist.

When using module trucks, typically four modules per load, it is important that gins modify the seven or eight middle chains on module trucks with puncture-resistant lugs to prevent tearing wraps when handling rounds. Tearing the wrap will reduce its strength and may cause it to rupture during handling. When selecting a round module handling system, ginners should:

• Select an unwrapping system with enough automation to feed the gin without limiting ginning capacity – with considerations for the feeder design and gin yard layout,

• Select an unwrapping system that locates the RFID tag embedded in the plastic wrap and make cuts at the recommended location to prevent a loose piece of wrap remaining with the module OR an unwrapping system that dumps cotton from the wrap without cutting the wrap.

• Have additional well-trained personnel on the module feeder to handle the smaller rounds and plastic wrap in a safe and effective manner.

• Conduct training for workers on the importance of keeping plastic wrap from entering into the feeder and the gin.

There are several commercially available systems that have been developed to remove the wrap. They include semi-automated systems that cut the plastic wrap at the recommended location or dump the cotton out of the module wrap without cutting.

Additionally, there are several systems that allow the cover to be cut and removed while flipping the module on the feeder bed, and then there is the simple box cutter on a stick. These systems require manual removal of the plastic wrap. All require a well trained staff to prevent plastic wrap from entering the gin.

There are also options in positioning the module either parallel (the sausage), perpendicular (the wagon wheel) to the feeder head or standing on end (beer can). Systems that use the sausage or dump methods must add side panels on the feeder floor to prevent spillage. Systems using the wagon wheel can get by without additional sides on the feeder floor.

It is important when handling round modules to protect the integrity of the plastic wrap by following recommended procedures in the field and at the gin. If the wrap is cut in the wrong location, a piece of the inner, non-adhesive wrap end may be separated and remain within the cotton.

Additional information, along with a poster with a diagram showing the proper location for cutting module wrap, can be found on the National Cotton Council Web site at http://www.cotton.org/tech/quality/round-module-handling.cfm. Additional data can be found at the Cotton Incorporated site at http://www.cottoninc.com/Proper-Cutting-Round-Module-Wrap/.

Thomas D. Valco, PhD, USDA Cotton Technology Transfer, Stoneville, Miss., contributed information for this ginning report. For additional information, contact Valco at Thomas.valco@ars.usda.gov or (662) 686-5255.