As the ethanol industry came of age and DDGS transportation shifted away from single rail car shipments, J.D. Heiskell & Co. realigned its base model of business to take in large shipments of commodities. The shift toward unloading 100-car unit trains of DDGS evolved the company from country elevator to full-on trans-loading operation.
In 2007, J.D. Heiskell & Co. built its first commodity barn for DDGS. The unit-train-capable barn measures 140 by 360 feet with 4-foot stem walls and a capacity to hold 16,000 tons of product.
As the company established itself in the region, the demand for increased capacity grew. To respond to the need, J.D. Heiskell & Co. invested in a second storage barn. Mid-States Millwright & Builders built the new 140 feet wide and 400 feet long storage barn, and it opened for business in December 2010.
“These additions bring an exciting new facet to the Southwest Business unit — one very familiar to J.D. Heiskell, but new to us,” Reid says about the company’s added bulk sales of livestock mineral supplements, silage treatment products, sack mineral sales and professional dairy herd nutrition consulting.
The new storage barn is split down the middle, and each side is capable of handling 20,000 tons for a total capacity of 40,000 tons.
“In order to service our customers and get the discounts from the railroads, we built our new barn to be able to compete,” Worley says. “We’ve been such a market presence here the last few years. We built the second barn because we were able to take product in, handle it efficiently and service the customer.”
The new barn holds two corn byproducts: gluten feed and canola.
“We’re so much more marketable now because we can handle two more commodities where we didn’t have the space to do it before,” says Stephen Tillery, Friona plant manager. “In fact if we wanted to use smaller units, we could put several products in one bay.”
To keep up with the volume, both barns are equipped with Hi Roller 50,000 bushel/hour belt conveyors. The conveyor’s movable tripper’s capability is similar to what is in a concrete elevator, but rather than move product into a bin, it efficiently feeds into the barn.
“Bigger is better when it comes to anything in the grain business,” says Tillery.
The facility aims to be the first U.S. facility to dump a 100-car canola pellet train, a goal Worley says the company should be able to achieve by February.
Learning from the construction of the first barn, the team built the second barn with higher stems walls. “Barns are as common as anything, but this barn is structurally engineered to pile a constant pile throughout,” says Tillery. “By installing a dividing wall in the middle of the barn at 200 feet, we can peak the pile and not loose capacity or air space by building a straight long pile across it.”
Inside the storage barn, a scale — Cardinal in the new facility, Fairbanks in the old — weighs the trucks prior to loading. A camera system allows the office to better track progress at the scale, J.D. Heiskell & Co.’s propriety software system delivers the weigh-in information to the main office, and a discharge ticket is ready when the truck exits the barn.
The scale setup allows trucks to be loaded out in seven minutes or less — a major improvement from what its load times once were.
“We’ve gone the extra mile to install a scale system so the bulk commodities aren’t fighting with the farmers coming to the elevator with their incoming crop,” Tillery explains. “By installing our scales inside the barns, we’ve alleviated that problem as it allows everyone to get their product moved and delivered in a timely fashion.”
Despite the volume and scope of the operation, the storage barns are efficiently run by five employees.
Partnerships fueled investments
The story behind the investments reaches beyond J.D. Heiskell & Co’s ambition; it was sparked by a new relationship with Tate & Lyle to handle gluten feed pellets.
“Tate & Lyle allows us to trans-load their product for them. If we weren’t able to unload their product for them, we may not have invested in the second facility.” J.D. Heiskell & Co. has an existing relationship with Tate & Lyle, having handled its products in California for many years.