Manufacturers Push for Versatility, Safety in Fertilizer and Seed Tenders

In a challenging year, growers look to do more with less. Tender manufacturers have been working on delivering on that desire.

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“The industry is demanding a versatile tender that can be multi-functional and used more than the traditional two to three months a year,” says Matt Klabo, Vice President, Fertilizer Division for FEI Inc. “Many end users are using their tenders for feed and seed in addition to the traditional fertilizer seasons.”

J&M Tender

J&M SpeedTender 390 self-filling bulk seed tender with optional aluminum wheels and Patriotic Farmer decals.

Ryan Salway, Marketing Manager, J&M Manufacturing, Inc., agrees. “As more farmers use seed tenders, they quickly learn how the convenience of a seed tender makes their planting season go much more efficiently,” he says.

When discussing their offerings, tender manufacturers use words and phrases like efficiency and flexibility.

“The goal for all tender customers is to have the ability to get multiple products in significant quantities to the destination quickly, safely, simply, and flexibly,” says Shan Kruse, Product Development Director, Peterson Motors Co./Quickveyor.

Delivering on needs and improving their existing offerings is key to continued growth.

“We are always striving to make changes to improve safety when operating our equipment,” says Matt Hays, Sales and Production for Hays LTI. “We are always moving our final product to be simple and performance-driven, but most importantly, safe to operate.”

FEI Inc. has added additional safety and corrosion resistance to its tenders, Klabo says.

“The tender has been around long enough now that it really is not an experiment — it’s a necessity, says Larry Myers, Marketing, Strobel. “So, a high-quality seed tender is needed in most operations. There is still potential with producers to buy for their first time. And, like cell phones, we see a ‘seed tender cycle’ coming around now that will have producers replacing their first- or second-generation seed tender with a new model.”

Doyle Manufacturing has seen some changes, as well.

“We have seen many customers switch from truck mount tenders to trailer tenders,” says David Juette, Sales, Doyle Equipment. “Having the capability to haul more per trip to the field and having the capability to use the road tractor for other applications makes trailer mounted tenders more appealing to retailers. Also, over the years we have seen a trend change from rear discharge to side and overhead discharge tenders.”

Trends

“We continue to see a shift to larger capacity tenders, and customer’s need for tenders that offer multi-direction maneuverability of the auger,” says Arnie Sinclair, President, Heartland AG Systems. “Application equipment has become taller, which is driving the purchases of tenders with augers having hydraulic controls and maneuverability, allowing product to be unloaded in center of floater box.”

In the past, tenders were somewhat of an afterthought. Today they’re part of the overall toolkit.

“Recently, we have seen a shift to tender purchases becoming part of fleet management and equipment planning,” Sinclair says. “In past years, tenders were often a secondary purchase after application equipment units were bought, and only if any capital budget dollars remained.”

Customers are also looking at larger capacity tenders, and they’re paying attention to construction quality Sinclair says.

“We found it easy to grow our tender market by offering inexpensive, short-term rentals, but economics finally had its way,” says Tim Tenhet, Sales Manager, The KBH Corp. “In the end the only way to grow our market is to offer better products at a competitive price, and it is a competitive market!”

At Heartland that meant changing the material from which the tenders were made.

“Over the last few years, we have seen a reduction of painted 409 Stainless steel and an increase in 304 stainless steel tenders,” he says.

Doyle’s Juette has seen similar demands from customers.

“All tenders are getting larger in size enabling customers to haul more per trip,” he says. “We have seen a large increase in our 24-ton truck mount and 32-ton trailer tender sales.”
Peterson/Quickveyor’s Kruse says customers are looking to get more use out of their purchases.

“It is really just a continuous improvement effort in pursuit of optimizing each tender’s ability to get multiple products in significant quantities to the destination quickly, safely, simply, and flexibly, and reliably,” Kruse says.

Manufacturers continue to deliver more value with each new offering.

“In addition to the requirement for larger tenders, we continue to see more tenders with weigh scales, safety devices such as auger warning systems, and desire to move product through the tender quickly,” Sinclair says. “We are also seeing more companies utilizing telemetry for improved fleet management, and vehicles pulling tenders are having telemetry devices installed on tending units as retailers to look at the efficiency of their application process.”

Challenges

The goal of any product is to have it appeal to as many customers as possible. Given the varied nature of climates, soils, and various other factors, that’s much easier to say than to do.

As FEI’s Klabo described the challenge: “Having a versatile tender that fits in the many regions or agriculture in the U.S.”

Kruse sees similar challenges.

“Meeting each individual customer’s specific needs,” he says. “The variation in regional requirements … in areas such as field size, field approach size, air seeder size, average delivery distance drive a great need for a large amount of variability in tender offerings. Continuously expanding the tender’s options and performance (quality, speed, capacity, simplicity, flexibility, and durability) is key to expanding the tender market.”

Of course, not everyone is looking to purchase a new machine. That means keeping the existing units in good working order.

“While more tenders are built every day, the need for service and repair on aging units is something that we focus on very heavily to protect the investments of our customers,” Hays says. “We strive to provide as much support as we can for all the tenders out there continuing to move product season after season.”

Sometimes change comes because of customer demands. Other times it’s due to regulatory changes.

The Tier 4 clean air mandate, which began in 2018, seems to have been digested,” Tenhet explains. “The industry was not keen air-cooled diesel engines being eliminated from newly manufactured units, but manufacturers and users seem to be over that hump. KBH began that transition in late 2015 which gave us a nice head start on the market.”

Heartland’s Sinclair adds another perspective on challenges for Tender manufacturers.

“Tenders are a competitive market,” Sinclair says. “At Heartland AG Systems, we listen to our customer’s needs, and can bring those ideas back to our own manufacturing plant to implement them into products we introduce to the marketplace.

“Tender design can help with employee retention,” Sinclair continues. Drivers want the ability to easily operate the machinery they work with.”

Opportunities

Many of those challenges can be turned into positives for companies ready to fill a need.

“There is still a large (number) of older tenders in the marketplace that are nearing end of life that will need to be replaced. I think there will be continued demand for larger faster tenders for years to come,” Klabo says.

Listening is the first step to solving those problems.

“The biggest opportunity for us right now is to listen to the needs of the market,” Hays says. “Another opportunity for the tender market is introducing Hays tenders into new territories.”
“Retailers are looking for ways to provide product more effectively and efficiently to their application equipment in the field,” Sinclair says. “Our recently released MT Series tenders provide self-cleaning bins, and the ability to unload product at faster rates.”

Safety is priority one.

“Previous tender models out in the field that do not have enhanced safety features and require someone to climb onto or into the tender for complete cleanouts of bins,” Sinclair says. “The potential to slip and fall is much greater in these older models. Every day at Heartland AG Systems, we work to take customer feedback and implement it in our products. Safety for those operating our machines is always a priority in design of our products.”

Looking Ahead

The challenges posed for many areas of agriculture didn’t seem to have too negative an impact on the tender market. Manufacturers are optimistic about 2021.

“There was a fair amount of application that took place in the fall of 2020 (unlike years past). I would anticipate a level 2021 compared to 2020,” Klabo says.That could lead to a new tenders.

“We expect tender sales to be big for 2021,” Hays says. “We are putting a lot of effort in improving production and delivery times. With the tender market getting more competitive, we expect many improvements and innovations.”

It’s all about evaluating customer needs, Sinclair says. “As they take a closer look, they are realizing that they can be more efficient with equipment decisions, decrease their fleet numbers, and still cover more acres. As their application equipment becomes more effective, they will have an increased need for tenders to get product to application equipment and keep them operating instead of wasting precious time in an already condensed season waiting to get reloaded.”

That might be the reason Peterson/Quickveyor’s Kruse has already seen interest in tender purchases.

“We are already experiencing a significant uptick in demand for the 2021 season” Kruse says. “The solid grain markets, easy harvest, and gentle fall weather of 2020 have made for a successful fall fertilizer season and left everyone with much hope for next year. All in all, we are optimistic in the future.”

Company Updates

Brehmer Manufacturing Inc. All overhead discharge dry tenders are built with the highest of quality standards. Brehmer’s truck mount fertilizer tender can be ordered with split bins and has a self-locking hydraulic discharge auger.

FEI Inc. The company started building the EZ-veyor conveyor trailers 16 years ago and continues to try and perfect the trailer and its functionality.

Hays LTI. The company has a couple of new products on the drawing board. Most of its efforts have been toward improving the equipment out there now, building a more efficient tender, and putting emphasis on improving safety for the operator.

Heartland-MT900-TA Tender

Heartland Ag will release the VPA 1000 tender this year, which had same safety features as the MT Series and the ability to unload on both sides of the tender.

Heartland AG Systems. The VPA 1000 tender will offer the same industry leading safety features of MT Series, but with the company’s patent-pending design will offer an industry first: The ability to unload on both sides of the tender at an incredible rate of 5,800 pounds/minute. The design of this tender also allows for storage of auger on either side of vehicle.

KBH. The 2021 KBH Model TT2000 features comes with a two-compartment rear discharge dry tender. Other models include two, three, and four compartment rear and side discharge.

Peterson Motors Co./Quickveyor. The company brought to market a smooth side alternative with the 40’ Quickveyor, the QV40. The conveyor system is what keeps customers coming back, the company says. The newest addition to the Quickveyor family takes everything the company has learned over the last 20 years and implements it on a smooth sidewall, high quality, precision hopper trailer.

J&M Marketing. The company recently introduced its EC 270 bulk SpeedTender. The EC 270 is the perfect seed tender when the essentials are all that’s needed for a fast and efficient planting season, the company says. Featuring a 270-cubic foot storage tank, J&M’s EC 270 utilizes a poly-cup interior flighting to gently and quickly carry the seed up the auger. The “Bottomless Pit” auger design protects seed by extending the distance between the intake area and bottom end of the auger to prevent grinding and cracking at the bottom of the tube.

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