High Speed Train Loadout Possible with Automation
Automation system delivers efficiency for rail terminal in Kansas’ biggest wheat producing county
The grain industry continues to grow in the U.S., requiring more storage and facilities. As farming practices have improved, yields are greater. That means those in the industry are busy building new facilities with the most up-to-date technology. This is especially true in wheat producing country, centered in Kansas.
In Milan, KS, a rail loading terminal was opened in May of 2017. Producer Ag LLC, a joint venture between CHS and Team Marketing Alliance (TMA), created the facility, which has upright slip form concrete storage and a 4.5-million-bushel flat storage building.
The terminal accepts canola, wheat, corn, soybeans, and milo, and is under the operation of Mid-Kansas Cooperative (MKC). This project was completed in 12 months, and during that time, MKC sought out many partners to ensure both facility efficiency and effectiveness.
One major element to these goals was finding a reliable automation system. They tapped Kasa Controls & Automation to deliver this segment of the project.
What the Milan Facility Does
The new facility receives some grain from nearby farmers, but most of the grain that makes it to their facility is from other elevators across south-central Kansas. The grain is stored here until it is loaded on a train and sent to the U.S. milling market or to port elevators to be exported to other countries.
There are many facilities like this all over the country. The Milan facility is unique, however, in that it can load a train much more quickly than most with a 100,000 bushel loadout bulk weigher.
Typically, a load train takes 16 to 20 hours. At the Milan facility, the same load can be accomplished in 5 ½ to 6 hours resulting in tremendous cost savings.
Automated Conveyor System Moves Grain Faster
To achieve these faster times and reduce manpower, an automated conveyor system was key. With fewer manual functions, the risk of injury is also reduced considerably.
Automation systems are vital in operating a modern grain elevator facility. With the Kasa system, all the motors and equipment in the facility can be controlled autonomously to convey and condition grain in the storage facility.
“The Milan facility is large and high-speed," says Heath Roker, Kasa Project manager and sales engineer. "The process of receiving and shipping grain requires a lot of equipment. With our automation system, speed is maintained and accuracy is improved, reducing errors while maximizing output.”
Kasa worked with MKC, TMA, CHS, Inc., and Producer Ag on previous projects, including a large grain terminal and two smaller facilities over the past six years.
When it was time to develop this new project, they relied on our innovation to create a streamlined custom system.
Newer grain facilities are being designed for automated operations to keep in pace with modern technology. Kasa partnered with MKC (Mid Kansas Coop) to provide automation systems and hardware for several of their large grain terminals. The advanced grain handling software with automation and data collection delivers the features and capabilities facilities need, all integrated into one easy-to-operate system.
"The technology in a grain handling facility can be complex, and there are lots of different systems at work," Heath says. "Integrating them together makes everything more user-friendly."