MONETTE, AR (KAIT) - It is a rare occurrence to build a completely new cotton gin.
"Once in a lifetime, you can't just up and build one every 10 years. They cost a lot of money." said Dewayne Couch the gins operations manager. Jerry Scarborough who has overseen the construction of the gin and the installation of the equipment says his company, Cherokee Fabrication rarely builds new gins.
Scarborough, "Generally it's just extensive rebuilds and modifications. Our next complete gin will be built in Brazil."
The Kiech-Shauver-Miller gin in Monette was built in 1966, but this ginning season they have a brand new state-of-the-art gin to produce those bales.
Perhaps the most exciting part is the introduction of a new stand, the part that cleans and processes the cotton, never before used in the United States or anywhere for that matter. The gin now has the biggest cotton stand in the world. The Cherokee Magnum 244. 4 feet wider than Cherokee's current gin.
The ginning season started late with the new construction, in fact they are running 24/7 to catch up. Not unusual during this time of year and the new stands are really stepping up the pace.
Without even adding the Magnum machine, the other two new stands already double the output of the old gin.
Couch, "You can gin 19 bales an hour on each one of those easy. "
Right now the Magnum is running at break in speed until they get all the kinks worked out. But put all 3 running together and the output is incredible.
Couch, "Yesterday we were running 65 bales an hour." The old gin at max would put out 28 bales off of 4 stands.
Everything is computer controlled. One operator monitors a bank of screens including TV cameras which watch all aspects of production. Workers see that raw cotton is kept fed into the gin but even that is all computer controlled and heavily mechanized.
Another unique innovation is bale handling. A 300 foot long conveyor takes the sampled and wrapped bales and sends them out to the warehouse where they are taken by forklift and stacked, ready to be shipped.
Maleisa Finch who manages the gin says the expense will be worth it in the long run.
Finch, "We have increased production with less equipment. For a ginner that means we have lowered our repairs and maintenance and we have lowered our labor costs and that is a huge expense for a cotton gin."
The farmers also benefit. Most of this years crop is pre-sold.
Finch, "We can speed up getting them paid because we are able to gin it faster. So that in turn will stop them on their notes they have at the bank."
Finch says that once they get the stands broke in they may not have to run around the clock next year which means less expense and hopefully new customers.
Finch, "We can actually say we have something unique to the cotton industry."