Given the rail configurations, Hickman’s opted for an underground rail receiving system housed within a 10,000-square-foot tunnel.
While the feed mill is set up to receive 10,000 to 12,500 bushels/hour — or a quarter of grain receiving — the engineers set up the receiving pit to handle three-fourths of a railcar so it can be parked and dumped.
SMA project manager Doug Eiden explains: “The pit can handle almost an entire car in the pit and will keep the unloading process moving. By our math we figured the 50,000-bushel receiving should get the trains unloaded in the 10- to 11-hour range.”
Whole grains and soybean meal are dumped into the same pit. To eliminate the potential problems caused by handling these commodities on the same system, the company installed a special patented receiving conveyor that can handle commodities at different rates.
Provisions have been made for the installation of a hard car unloader for the soybean meal cars.
From the receiving pit conveyor, the product is dropped on to a Schlagel receiving transfer belt conveyor that is not capacity sensitive. Two 25,000-bushel/hour receiving legs then elevate the product to the top of the bin where a Schlagel dual inlet distributor delivers the grain to its destination: the large storage bins, over to the daily feed mill storage bins, i.e., two Chief Agri-Industrial 25,000-bushel hopper tanks, or to a 104- by 120-foot flat storage building for the soybean meal storage.
“If they’re receiving corn and want to bring one railcar down the line, they could route it directly into the two hopper tanks next to the feed mill for their grinding supply,” Eiden explains. “Or they could send railcars of soybean meal to the bulk storage building without interrupting feed batch operations. This will allow Hickman’s to explore local producers or other local suppliers to service their operations.”
In February 2013 Hickman’s unloaded its first 110-car shuttle train in less than 10 hours; it will receive one train/month to maintain its supply.
Rail access will also allow Hickman’s to explore the shipping needs of the local growers. In addition to precisely tracking grain movement between the facility and AZ Grain, the company will use its C&A Bulkweigher to weigh local crops for shipping. From the bulkweigher, weighed products can be conveyed to the truck receiving lane or to the rail line. The load-out system was design at 25,000 bushels/hour and can handle 25-car units.
Feed mill workflow
In addition to the monthly six-figure savings gained by reducing its freight costs, bringing its feed production in-house allows Hickman’s to better control inputs and feed quality.
“If the best grains aren’t used in the feed, we can actually tell the difference in the performance of the chickens,” Billy says. “It serves us to control the accuracy of formulations.”
Three full-time employees — general manager Dago Ortiz, his assistant mill manager and a maintenance man — manage the mill’s 120-ton/hour batching system using an Easy Automation control system.
Grain is pulled out of one of the facility’s two 550,000-bushel Chief Titan storage bins by a 25,000-bushel/hour Schlagel reclaim belt conveyor that delivers grain to the two Schlagel receiving legs and a Schlagel swing-set distributor feeding to the Chief hopper tanks. From there, grain is moved on a Schlagel reclaim conveyor to a storage bin surge over the 50-ton/hour RMS roller mill where the grain is ground.
A Schlagel reclaim auger moves the ground grain with a 100-ton/hour grinding leg. Past the grinding leg, another swing-set distributor offers a couple of options: The grain can go to load-out [to service local dairies] or fill select ingredient bins within the feed mill.
Rather than installing one large RMS roller mill, Hickman’s opted for two smaller machines — one currently is in place. The installation of the second roller mill will allow the company to double its feed production to 1,200 tons/day.
Within the grinding system, a 10-ton/hour Bliss hammermill is used to mill off-grade local products, which are then reclaimed back into a leg and delivered to ingredient bins by a dual-inlet distributor.