Start at receiving. The dust collection system uses six ducts for each 9- by 24-foot pit. Walk downstairs into the boot pit and you notice it’s wide — and clean. Granted, the facility is new and receiving 300,000 bushels does not a harvest season make, but you can’t argue with Diehl when he says “we keep this as clean as an office.”
The wide tunnel, with its bright lighting and working room on both sides of the conveyor, offers perspective on modern elevator design. “It’s state-of-the-art — but how everything needs to be built today,” emphasizes Clint Steele, vice president of marketing/estimating for Todd & Sargent, the project’s contractor/engineer. Asked about the dust collection system and clean boot pit, he adds, “It’s essential. You have to approach it as though you can hardly do enough” to control grain dust.
Other safety and people-friendly aspects include a Luft Kanal system for the concrete elevators. When cleanout is needed, the aeration system pushes air to the desired bin, cleaning it out so there’s no need to enter. An above-grade tunnel serves the steel storage structure, which is cleaned by a sweep auger, also reducing need for confined-space entry. Each storage area is served by a 60,000-bushel/hour reclaim system.
Partnering for opportunity
Designed for throughput and efficiency, for safety and a good work environment, the CPI-Lansing rail-shuttle elevator certainly appears to be the right facility in the right location. While it will be able to stand on its own from a business standpoint, Fifield points out that CPI has an additional edge with its Lansing Trade Group partnership. He explains that Lansing CEO Bill Krueger is always looking for opportunities and they seem to have found a nice balance. CPI is operationally strong; Lansing is strong in merchandising grain. CPI has 39 facilities and a pretty good chunk of country from which it will draw grain; Lansing owns a railcar fleet as well as some storage. Together they can store over 100 million bushels — and move it to markets.
This combination is good chemistry. “We’re not at the mercy of multinationals,” Fifield comments. “[Lansing staff] share market intelligence with us; they have expertise in world markets, relationships in Mexico for white corn buyers.” Which spells opportunity for CPI and its customers. While corn and soybeans will be the mainstay, white corn provides an additional option for local growers and CPI.
The 50/50 partnership has history, with the two entities entering a working relationship in 1995. In 2008 they worked on their first joint venture, the shuttle facility in Red Cloud. With plenty of risk and unpredictability throughout agribusiness, developing sound partnerships can ease the ebb and flow market pressures put on profits. With a strong operations record on one side, intelligent merchandising and market relationships on the other, CPI-Lansing and its two shuttle loading facilities should be better positioned to handle market volatility, perhaps as readily as the Fairmont site handles trucks and railcars.