Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Five Tips for Winterizing Heavy-Duty Diesel Engines

With cold weather upon us, learn what steps you should take to prepare your vehicles for winter.
Tip 1: Treat the fuel.
When preparing your fleet or ag equipment for winter, one of the most commonly overlooked items is the fuel itself. Fuel needs to be winterized, especially if the equipment will be used throughout the winter.
Paraffin wax is present in all diesel fuels as a natural lubricity agent. Like any wax, as the ambient temperature of the fuel drops, the wax begins to form large square-shaped structures. These can come out of suspension and cause fuel to gel, which clogs the fuel filter.
To prevent gelling, use a cold-flow improver (CFI) that includes de-icers and wax anti-settling agents, which extend the operability of the fuel. But don’t overtreat. Additional treatments of CFI are more likely to inhibit the fuel’s performance than help.
A second option is to use a diesel fuel specially formulated for low temperatures, such as Cenex winterized premium diesel fuels. Cold-flow improvers, de-icers and wax anti-settling agents are included in the additive packages for these fuels.
Tip 2: Drain the water separator and replace filters.
Water in the fuel system can reduce engine performance and damage components like fuel pumps and injectors. Avoid these issues by replacing water-absorbing filters and draining the water separator regularly. Fuel gelling can be an issue, but it’s water turning to ice in fuel storage tanks and filtration that typically plugs filters during the first couple of cold snaps.
Fill fuel and hydraulic oil tanks full to prevent condensation from forming during temperature and humidity changes.
Tip 3: Check the coolant system.
Regular preventive maintenance will reveal any issues before they become major problems. Check for radiator leaks, plugged or hardened hoses, and cracked belts. Tighten any loose hose clamps. Check coolant levels and antifreeze strength.
Tip 4: Prepare the Battery
Old Man Winter can drain batteries quickly. If a battery is close to the end of a typical 48- to 72-month cycle, replace it. Clean battery terminals and be sure connections are tight. If equipment will be stored over the winter, disconnect battery ground cables to prevent battery drain.
Tip 5: Clean and inspect the exterior.
Use a high-pressure washer to remove dirt, dust and residue, and grease unpainted metal parts to protect them from the elements. Then apply a wax to the surface, which will help repel snow, salt and road chemicals. Use a lanolin-based spray-on protectant to prevent rust and corrosion.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Safety Counts

By Kerry Watson, Director of Communications

One thousand, eight hundred forty-four. Two thousand, one hundred two. Customers and employees approaching the facilities in Groveland and Moundridge can’t help but notice these numbers. They are proudly displayed at each location and are placed so anyone entering the facility will notice the number of days the location has worked without a lost-time accident.

"We stress safety in everything we do," states Nathan Eck, senior location manager at Groveland. "Whether it’s climbing in and out of a spray rig, entering a grain bin, or ensuring the sidewalks are free from snow and ice, the safety of our employees and our customers is our number one priority."

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Now's the Time to Sample Fuel Tanks

Properly sampling of fuel tanks is essential to protecting your diesel equipment investment. It's a good idea to sample your tanks at this time of year, so you can take care of any moisture and contaminant issues before the falling temperatures cause major disruptions. With the CHS fuel testing kits available at MKC, you'll receive a valuable lab report that outlines any fuel quality issues and provides problem-solving advice.
We recommend using a tank sampler kit with a portable hand-operated vacuum device because this method collects more accurate samples than using a water-finding paste. We offer trouble-free kits that are designed to help prevent spills and will work on any size vehicle, underground or above-ground tanks.
When pulling a sample, remember the majority of contaminants settle at the bottom of the tank - so it's crucial you pull samples from the bottom. Also, be sure to thoroughly clean and dry the jar and hose after each sample is taken.
As you gear up for winter, contact MKC's energy division at 888-442-0141 to order kits or request help with sampling.

Monday, October 27, 2014

It's More than Just a Telephone - Technology Continues to Change How We Do Business

By Nichole Gouldie, Communications Specialist
What quacks like a duck and tells you when MKC is leaving your field?

That would be an MKC customer’s cell phone.

While your phone may not quack like a duck, you can receive notification within minutes of when MKC completes your customer application order.

Last August MKC launched the customer notification system. The first of its kind, this system brings a new level of communication to MKC customers. Using an electronic tabloid in spray rigs, rig drivers use technology to notify customers via email or text message letting the producer know their field has been sprayed.

Recently, Ryan Patrick received a text message from MKC notifying him his milo field scheduled to be sprayed was complete. Patrick, who operates a diversified crop and cow-calf operation near Lindsborg, recalls working in their shop fixing equipment that was down when he received the text message.

“It’s convenient to receive these notifications,” Patrick says. “Especially when you aren’t around the day your field is being sprayed, you know the job got done. It is especially beneficial when I am trying to plan other jobs that need done on the farm instead of waiting and wondering exactly when my field got sprayed.”

According to Shane Eck, senior location manager for MKC, more than 500 producers are currently signed-up for the electronic notification. Eck commented the system eliminates the producer having the unknown of their spray order.

McPherson County producer Larry Dahlsten appreciates the promptness of the notification system. “I don’t have to wonder if my spraying got done today or tomorrow, or take the time to drive out to the field to look for tracks,” he says.

For Dahlsten and Patrick, a partner and source of expertise in technology is MKC. “The application notification system is one more way MKC is providing efficiencies and expertise using technology for its’ customers,” Eck says.

Patrick is the first to admit technology isn’t at the top of his list of priorities. “I still have a flip phone,” Patrick chuckled. “I leave being up-to-date in the area of technology up to the co-op.”

Today, the cell phone is more than just a telephone for Dahlsten. He uses it for markets, weather, communicating via text message and much more.

“It isn’t always easy to learn [technology] but it has a lot of benefits,” Dahlsten says. Dahlsten tries to keep up with the technology the younger generation uses and he laughed as he admitted it is difficult at times. Besides the application notification system through MKC, he uses precision ag and enjoys staying up-to-date through MKC’s Facebook page.

“Most producers, regardless of size, see the benefit in using technology,” Eck added. “The customer notification system is just one more way MKC is enhancing the customer service experience for our customers.”

The equipment has not yet been installed at MKC’s northern locations including Alta Vista, Onaga, Westmoreland and Manhattan. Customers in these areas can plan to see this technology offered from MKC in the near future. To sign-up for notifications, contact your field marketer or nearest MKC location.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Enhancing the Overall Customer Experience

By Dave Christiansen, President and CEO

How to enhance the overall customer experience is one initiative that continues to rise to the top in our strategic planning sessions now held twice a year. Initially, the challenge with an initiative like this was creating a clear definition that would be actionable. First it meant we needed to make certain our company was easy for our customers to do business with. Secondly, when the customer did do business with us, they would be left with the feeling they selected the right partner.  

One of the challenges to executing an initiative like this is we have to be willing to challenge virtually everything we are doing today, regardless of how well we think we are doing.  We must go to our customers and ask the terrifying question, “How well are we doing?”  Only then, and only if we really listen, can we get the information that will lead us to start making the changes customers say will set us apart from everyone else who is wanting their business.  

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

October is National Co-op Month

Do you remember why you chose membership with your local cooperative? It may be among many reasons shared by 130 million people who have also chosen cooperatives, but it most likely has something to do with the common philosophy of people helping people.

Cooperatives have a rich and diverse history in the United States and around the world. Ben Franklin is credited with bringing the cooperative enterprise to America in 1752 when he and fellow Philadelphians founded the first mutual insurance company in the country.

Cooperatives operate across all sectors and include agriculture, food distribution and retailing, childcare, credit unions, purchasing, worker-owned, housing, health care, energy and telecommunications cooperatives.

Despite their diversity, co-ops are guided by shared values and principles including democracy, self-help and social responsibility. They exist to serve their members, and that level of service remains high even during even the toughest times. Instead of issuing stock or paying dividends to outside shareholders, co-ops provide value to their members through their level of customer service and membership checks at the end of each year.

According to the National Cooperative Business Association (NCBA), there are nearly 30,000 co-ops in the U.S., serving more than one in every four Americans. Around the world, an estimated 1 billion people are members of co-ops.

"Every day, MKC works to demonstrate cooperative enterprises build a better world," states Dave Christiansen, MKC’s President and CEO. "Not only do we provide product and services to help our members succeed, but we believe we are helping to strengthen our communities through our people, jobs, services and community involvement."

As part of the month-long celebration, MKC hosted a coloring contest for kindergarten through 4th grade students. Fifty-six schools received a packet from MKC containing a supply of coloring sheets and information on the cooperative system to use as education tools in their classrooms .
Prizes will be awarded to 1st, 2nd and 3rd place winners in each age group. Winning entries will be posted on and featured on MKC's social media sites throughout the month.  

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Farm Safety for the Next Generation

By Melissa Woeppel, Communications Intern

There are so many adventures to be had when you’re a kid on the farm. But those adventures can come with risks.

According to Farm Safety for Just Kids, “one child dies every three days on a farm. Every day 38 kids are injured in an agricultural related accident.” In 2012, over 7,700 kids were injured on a farm.

To help keep youth safe and reduce these statistics, the McPherson County Farm Bureau and K-State Research and Extension McPherson County joined forces more than 15 years ago to host a farm safety day camp. The annual program raises awareness of safety hazards for youth ages 8 to 11 to learn more about rural dangers, specifically on the farm. MKC has helped sponsor this event for the past seven years.

While many youth are taught safe farm practices at home, farm safety programming reinforces the importance of safety. “As producers, we know we work in a hazardous environment. Even though we try and teach our youth to be safe, hearing it again from another person in their community may be
what is needed for the message to sink in and help keep them safe,” said Jonie James, agriculture and natural resources agent for McPherson County.

Eighty-three youth attended the 2014 day camp on June 12 at the McPherson County Fairgrounds. The program began with an accident demonstration and mock helicopter rescue. Following the demonstration, participants were able to look at the helicopter up close, which was the highlight of the camp for many.

Campers do not have to be children who live on a farm to benefit from the educational sessions, said James.

The seven, hands-on safety sessions included lessons on harvest, pesticides, electrical, PTOs and hydraulics, ATV and utility vehicles, fire, emergency and lawn equipment.

“Promoting safe practices for all ages on the farm is important to us,” states Kerry Watson, director of communications for MKC. “The McPherson County Day Camp is just one example of the programs we support. Most recently we teamed up with Nationwide Agribusiness and the National Education Center for Agricultural Safety to provide a grain bin safety program for producers, employees, and first responders.”