Debaler Instrumentation and Data collection

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  • Forest Concepts LLC
Team Name UI Debalers 2.0
Duration 2020 - 2021
Faculty Adviser
  • Dev Shrestha
  • Brian He
  • Dave Lanning
Team Members
  • Hope De Avila
  • Nate Stout
  • Evan Allen
  • Benjamin Zimmerman

The goal of the project is to build upon and add to the previous debaler prototype from 2019-2020 school year. We will achieve this by making the debaling process automated by adding an inlet conveyor system capable of carrying 2 bales towards the debaling head, while also integrating a working control system to control the material outflow and will also be able to detect bale jamming/motor stall and correct with no human interaction. By the end our project the debaler should be able to have a bale successfully debaled at a consistent flow for a specified flowrate without any human input other than the loading of the bale.

Problem Definition[edit]

The current debaler prototype is not an automated process, and the main goal from the client is to make the current prototype an automated machine. This requires adding an infeed conveyor to the current processing head, a working control algorithm to detect bale jams, and chute clogs also need to be added to this system. Additional improvements to the prototype such as cleaning off the processing head and making sure all loose (debaled) material goes through the chute are also desired by the client. Testing and data analysis of the system running different types of materials is also required.


As the need for precision agriculturally based feedstocks for biofuels and bio-based products increases, there is a need to debale straw, corn stover, hemp stalks, and other baled herbaceous crops for feeding into industrial processing equipment. The fundamental question is how can we effectively and efficiently turn baled material back into the loose material it was baled from and feed it onto a conveyor for subsequent milling and processing? Existing debalers were developed to support dairies and feedlots where the objective is only to distribute the material in small enough “chunks for cows and other animals to eat. Existing methods either do not break apart the flakes well or create a large amount of fines in the process. Forest Concepts needs a debaling mechanism to break down large square bales of stover, switchgrass, and similar materials into uniform streams that can be conveyed into our Crumbler® rotary shear comminution systems.


Our goal is to use available materials and scrap parts to improve the mechanical design, saving our financial resources to develop a control system to sense and correct bale jamming or chute clogs, and monitor the outflow of material. From the testing of various agricultural material we will document recommended operating parameters based on material type.


1. Mechanical device to pull apart and fluff baled agricultural materials
2. Control algorithm to sense and correct bale jamming
3. Consistent outfeed of material
4. Easily transportable by standard highway equipment
5. Prototype to withstand up to 140 lb bales
6. Conveyor infeed system able to automatically transport bale to processing head

Design Considerations[edit]

Our final choice for the infeed conveyor was based on our connections to an available hay elevator, and our ability to modify and customize a ready-made product to meet our needs. We also based our final choice on testing performed to come up with the best modifications to the processing head to give us the most consistent outflow of debaled material. Our biggest design consideration was how to build an infeed conveyor to automatically transport a bale to the processing head. Since we were able obtain an old hay elevator we were able to modify the elevator to work with our system. This design is cost effective and involved little designing.

Prototype,November 2020

Prototype,November 2020

Project Learning[edit]

Final Design[edit]


Team Members[edit]

UIdebalers HopeDA 21.jpeg

Name: Hope De Avila
Major: Biological Engineering
Hometown: Colfax, WA
Responsibility: Budget master

UIdebalers EvanAPic 21.jpeg

Name: Evan Allen
Major: Mechanical Engineering
Hometown: ?
Responsibility: Meeting minute note taker


Name: Nathan Stout
Major: Mechanical Engineering
Hometown: Lewiston, ID
Responsibility: Schedule master

2021 UIdebaler2 BenZpic.jpeg

Name: Benjamin Zimmerman
Major: Mechanical Engineering
Hometown: Tekoa, WA
Responsibility: Wiki master

Additional Documentation[edit]

Project Schedule

File:UIdebalers ProjectSchedule 21.pdf

Meeting Minutes

File:UIdebalers2 Meeting Minutes 1 9 9 2020.pdf
File:UIdebalers2 Meeting 2 Minutes.pdf
File:UIdebalers2 Meeting 3 Minutes.pdf
File:UIdebalers2 Meeting 4 Minutes.pdf
File:UIdebalers2 Meeting 5 Minutes.pdf
File:UIdebalers2 Meeting 6 Minutes.pdf
File:UIdebalers2 Meeting 7 Minutes.pdf
File:UIdebalers2 Meeting 8 Minutes.pdf
File:UIdebalers2 Meeting 9 Minutes.pdf
File:UIdebalers2 Meeting 10 Minutes.pdf
File:UIdebalers2 Meeting 11 Minutes.pdf
File:UIdebalers2 Meeting 12 Minutes.pdf
File:UIdebalers2 Meeting 13 Minutes.pdf
File:UIdebalers2 Meeting 14 Minutes.pdf
File:UIdebalers2 Meeting 15 Minutes.pdf
File:UIdebalers2 Meeting 16 Minutes.pdf
File:UIdebalers2 Meeting 17 Minutes.pdf
File:UIdebalers2 Meeting 18 Minutes.pdf
File:UIdebalers2 Meeting 19 Minutes.pdf


Client Interview