9576 Design and Decision Support Software for Cotton Module Transportation Using a Semi Tractor Trailer

Thursday, January 8, 2009: 10:45 AM
Salon D (Marriott Riverwalk Hotel)
Mark Hamann1, Dr. Calvin Parnell2 and Russell O. McGee2, (1)Texas A&M University, College Station, TX, (2)College Station, TX
The number of cotton gins in the state of Texas has been declining for the past forty years, while the number of bales produced per year has remained relatively constant, increasing over the course of the past five years.  As gins become more sparse, seed cotton must be transported greater distances to be processed.  The most common mode of seed cotton transportation in the United States is the module truck, which is efficient at short ranges but becomes expensive to operate over greater distances.  The module truck is illegal to operate loaded on interstate highways, making it slower and more costly than a piece of equipment which would be able to use these roads.  Alternatives have been considered to lower the costs of long-term transportation of cotton modules.    A semi-tractor towing a trailer of substantial length for carrying two modules at once which is able to stay below the weight limit of 80,000 pounds is the most desirable configuration.  However, it would exceed the normal length of a trailer for operation on interstate highways.  The trailer would consist of an aluminum walking floor and would be loaded and unloaded by conventional module trucks.  Decision support software has been created to aid ginners and producers in deciding when to use the semi-tractor trailer versus a module truck.  For current conditions the software predicts savings starting at a radius of thirty miles from a cotton gin.