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A Wireless Solution to Replace a Corroded, Old Alarm

August 8, 2022 | Blog

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Michael Hansen


Some people say the only constant in life is change. Poultry and swine growers could argue another constant is the biological by-products of animal production.

And the related challenges. High levels of moisture and corrosive gases, such as ammonia, methane, carbon monoxide and others, combined with negative pressure ventilation practices create a production environment that’s hard on materials.

In fact, corrosion has been identified as a main threat to the structural integrity of buildings and equipment.

The Reality of Corrosion on the Farm

Frank Benson, manager of Aspen Perry Sow Farm in Newport, PA, knows those challenges well.

After more than 30 years with the company, he has installed, maintained and replaced countless pieces of equipment and miles of wiring. He knows well that “the wiring is constantly degrading.” This includes the wiring for the alarm system he installed in 1990.

“It’s a redundant system we had installed to ensure we have no problems,” said Benson. “It was hard wired to a central unit in my office.”

During initial setup Benson focused largely on monitoring power.

“We have two generators setup in a way that in a power failure event half of each room would still be operational.”

Transfer switches were installed on every panel to manage power transitions and the alarm system was setup to report if a relay was stuck.

“The biggest thing was knowing if it wasn’t working.”

In the event of a failure, the alarm company was alerted and their personnel would run through the call list until one person had been notified.

The Cost of Corrosion

Maintaining the alarm system cost the company a fair amount of money over the years.

“Every service call usually resulted in a $700-$2,500 bill, even with the annual service contract discounted rate.” Benson recalls one visit that was necessary because the unit wouldn’t activate due to corrosion.

While Benson wouldn’t define himself as an early adopter of technology, commenting that his usual approach is “if it’s not broken, don’t fix it,” he knew that with 30-year-old wiring, he’d have to upgrade soon.

Go Wireless or Go Home

Faced with an aging system, Benson was proactive about researching his options. Considering the challenge of corrosion wasn’t going anywhere, he knew wireless was the way to go.

“Replacing wiring and conduit would be very expensive.”

During his research, Benson found BarnTalk, the completely wireless, smart barn alarm from BarnTools. The BarnTalk Gateway connects to the strongest local cell tower, regardless of carrier, eliminating the need for a land line, WiFi or hotspot. Plus, the system self-tests every two minutes to ensure connectivity. Up to 24 waterproof, dust-proof sensors can be paired to a single Gateway to provide alarms on power, temperature, water, humidity and more.

Quick Installation, Reliable Performance

“BarnTalk was a reasonably priced system that needed no electrician and practically no labor. It was easy to install out of the box. The whole process took us about 45 minutes.”

While Benson was initially concerned about the system being mobile app-controlled, he has quickly gained confidence. “We’ve had a few alarms go off so we know the system is working and we haven’t seen any negatives. I’m happy it does all it says it would.”

As for his company? Benson recommended BarnTalk to two other sow farms, both of which have already completed installation of the BarnTalk solution.

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