Stay in the Combine: How a Solo Operator can Maximize their Harvest Efficiency

At harvest, the goal of a solo operator is to stay in the combine for as long as possible to maximize the grain they harvest in a given day. However, the biggest constraint they face is finding a place to put that grain. For most operations, the combine driver is also the truck driver, making it difficult to stay in the combine for as much of the day as possible. For them, every hour spent in the truck is one hour not spent in the combine.

These operations rely on others to jump in and help when possible: children taking over the combine when they get home from school, friends showing up in the early hours of the morning to run an extra truckload, and wives taking the time to get an A1 license. Because of this, harvest can be a stressful time, where operators scramble to find extra hands and call in favors to get truck drivers during the harvest day.

It is the dream of every solo operator to have sufficient, reliable truck drivers available during the day to ensure that they can stay in the combine for as long as possible. If they have enough truck drivers, the operation can run efficiently, so long as there are no breakdowns or other unforeseen issues.

Chart A: Harvesting with Enough Truck Drivers

Chart A shows the bushels of Grain Harvested (on the left / y-axis) by the Hour on a given day of harvest (bottom / x-axis). In this case, the Actual Harvest line keeps up with the Potential Harvest line, meaning that this harvest operates efficiently!

But this is almost never the case for a solo operator. It’s difficult to find reliable drivers to be there every day, for the whole day of harvest, making it nearly impossible to achieve this perfectly efficient harvest day.

Chart B: Harvesting as a Solo Operator

Chart B shows that when solo operators have to leave the combine in the field to drive the truck to storage, the Actual Harvest line is only halfway to the Potential Harvest line, meaning that the harvest runs at half of its potential efficiency. Because of this, solo operators face significant delays, which adds more days to their harvest.

In this scenario, a producer with 3,500 acres could spend over 40 days in the combine due to a lack of available truck drivers. These extra days in the field result in greater wear and tear on equipment and additional labour costs, running up to $60,000.

With a T-Bin parked on the edge of a field during harvest, a solo operator can operate at maximum efficiency. By adding 10,000 bushels of field-side storage, one T-Bin can give a single-combine operation up to 11 hours of non-stop runtime. This makes it possible to stay in the combine for an entire harvest day, unloading grain into the T-Bin, instead of the truck that the combine driver needs to drive to the yard once per hour. The T-Bin effectively eliminates the need to find a truck driver during the harvest day.

Chart C: Harvesting with a T-Bin

In Chart C, the solo operator only needs to find one extra truck driver to support them with unloading for a few hours per day – and they can even come after hours! This significantly reduces the stress of finding drivers, as it actually becomes possible to complete harvest by calling in favors from friends and family.

With a staging bin like the T-Bin, harvest can be completed in just half of the time it would take a lone solo operator jumping between the combine and grain truck. This results in over $60,000 in annual savings; which pays for the T-Bin in just 5 years*.

Beyond these operational savings, there are potentially significant opportunity costs saved by getting the grain off the field earlier. These include preventing the loss of crops to hail and creating opportunities by timing the selling of grain.

Contact us for a free consultation to learn how the T-Bin can save you money at your next harvest.

*the payback period includes the T-Bin and trailer, as well as miscellaneous one-time setup costs