“There’s no need to move or convey grains a long distance to get to the rail head, which is right at the dock, making it easier and more convenient for trans-loading or unloading product within the terminal,” says Carl Parker, AGP’s director of bulk operations.
When AGP hopper railcars arrive at the port, they are spotted in the rail yard by the PSAP Railroad. Longshoremen staffed by the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) grab 50 cars at a time and pull them through the shed to the west of the tracks and then reposition the cars back through the facility’s CompuWeigh reader. The system confirms the origin of the railcar and the long-shore unit is given the OK to unload two cars simultaneously into the rail pit with a Divine drag conveyor, where it is elevated on Hi Roller belts to an Intersystems leg. The grain or meal is then elevated again through a series of Hi Roller conveyors, and it is distributed into one of the eight silos.
To load a vessel, a Laidig unloader removes meal from the silo, and a series of Hi Roller conveyors move the meal or grain to the scale house. A CompuWeigh scale system weighs the commodity and distributes it to a 60,000-bushel/hour Hendrik enclosed air-ride conveyor that moves the grain through a TMSA crane conveyor and, from the spout, the product is loaded into the vessel’s hold.
AGP also has the ability to elevate whole grain into four 80,000-bushel shipping bins where Washington State Department of Agriculture (WSDA) inspectors, who provide third-party grading services for the Federal Grain Inspection Service (FGIS), control the shipping silos, assign status labels and prepare the whole grains for shipping. When AGP is loading whole grains, three WSDA inspectors will work eight-hour shifts to monitor grain quality — pulling samples, grading grains — to ensure it complies with the shipping contract.
If IP is the objective, AGP/PGH uses the original facility to load directly from railcar to the ship — no legs, just moving grain from one belt conveyor to the next, passing through a Garner dockside bulk weigher and sampler, to the next belt conveyor and onto the ship via the Hendrik conveyor.
“[The Hendrik enclosed air-suspended belt conveyor] was designed so there’s minimum chance of a product being left in the conveyances,” Parker notes. “We have the ability to originate product, identify the railcars, upload it to electronic format, transfer it to the facility here — plus track all those railcars through the facility. This allows us to manage quality and integrity of the product.”
AGP/PGH began using the new facility to receive grain in mid-December 2011 and loaded its first ship from the expand site, a combo ship of soy meal and soybeans headed to China, in early January 2012. The primary bulk commodity being handled by AGP at the port is soy meal (90%), but Parker expects the product mix to balance out as it moves forward to include more DDGS, soybeans, corn, gluten meal and beet pulp pellets.
“We’re poised to be the fastest, most efficient by-products shipper in the Northwest,” states Mike Cenci, AGP/PGH’s facility manager and the only AGP employee stationed at the terminal.
Partnership benefits community
The Port of Grays Harbor is a countywide port district, a municipal form of government created to foster economic development, owned by the property taxpayers in Grays Harbor County. The citizens elect three commissioners, essentially a board of directors, who hire an executive director and support staff to carry forward the commission’s economic vision within the community. The port is responsible for about 25% of jobs in the county.
“AGP is our anchor tenant; they were the first to see the opportunity to control their own destiny,” Nelson says. “We didn’t sell the dock or the land, but we gave them a long-term lease to build a facility to load vessels and do their marketing so they have a vested interest in the community.
“The new terminal has transformed our skyline and has become a focal landmark that gives identity to the community.”
AGP’s investment in PGH has been a catalyst for growth in Grays Harbor. Since AGP set up shop, numerous companies also made an investment at the port. “[AGP’s] foresight and vision has really had a positive impact on the community by blazing the way for others to follow,” he says.