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New, Patented Machine Developed to Re-Bind Cotton Bales

By Linda Cooke
July 21, 1997

Broken cotton bales cost the industry up to $14 million annually in lost time and money. To help solve this problem, U.S. Department of Agriculture scientists have designed a new machine that re-bands cotton bales quickly and at less cost.

Cotton bales weighing about 500 pounds are held together by six or eight restraining bands made of either wire or steel. These bands break on about 2 percent (400,000 bales) of the cotton bales produced in the United States.

If the breakage occurs at the cotton gin, the entire ginning operation stops. It normally takes four people working about 30 minutes to completely repackage the bale. If breakage occurs after bales leave the gin, damaged bales must be re-shipped to a gin equipped with an expensive bale press.

The new re-banding machine enables a single operator to fix individual bands in about 10 minutes. Several models of the ARS-patented machine have been tested, including manually operated and automatic models, to meet industry requirements. The machine is expected to be commercially available in the fall of 1997.

The July issue of Agricultural Research, the monthly publication of USDA’s Agricultural Research Service, contains a report on the re-banding machine and its significance to the cotton industry.