Cargill’s Bloomingburg Overhaul

Cargill’s Bloomingburg, OH grain elevator was an aged facility with an original concrete house built by Holly Farms in 1952. No significant upgrades had been made to the central Ohio facility since the 1970s. An ethanol plant was built in 2007 adjacent to the Cargill grain elevator, and still operates today. Fifteen years later, it was time for site-wide renovation.

The Bloomingburg facility receives grain via truck and rail, transporting it to facilities onsite and to the southeast rail market. Construction began in fall 2020, coinciding with newly implemented COVID-19 protocols. Mandatory activated safety procedures ensured workers’ safety, however, disruptions to equipment shipping schedules were inevitable. Grain Journal was onsite in October 2023 shortly after the expansion was complete.

Optimizing the Customer Experience

The renovation and expansion focused on two primary objectives. First, to enhance the customer experience by modernizing the facility and minimizing truck lines throughout the year. Second, to meet the fall harvest needs of its customers by increasing the drying capacity of crops for yellow corn and soybeans.

“SMA along with Area Energy and Electric were chosen as the millwright and electrical contractors after a thorough evaluation of contractors based on safety culture, reputation, and expertise,” says John Barrett, regional operations leader for Cargill. A structural assessment resulted in the demolition of five corrugated steel bins, a challenging task as the facility continued to transport corn to the co-located ethanol plant 24/7 while undergoing major upgrades.

The small site footprint required skilled logistical efforts to keep the plant fully operational during construction.

The site originally had three pits, with the main pit also serving as a rail receiving pit, causing interruptions to receiving capacity for any grain brought in via rail. Cargill paired the dual-use receiving pit with additional pits. The site now has four fully functional receiving pits that nearly doubled its receiving capacity.

Prior to the expansion, the existing storage and handling capacities included five corrugated flat- bottom steel bins. All five were replaced with four jumpform concrete cone-bottom bins (40 feet in diameter) from McPherson Concrete Storage Systems. A single, corrugated steel GSI bin (60 feet in diameter) was erected by Global Bin Builders and outfitted with a Springland 6025 commercial hydraulic sweep.

A new GSI Zimmerman 10,000-bph dryer, controlled by Dryer Master, was added, which doubled the facility’s drying capacity. To control and minimize dust, each pit now features a Donaldson Torit PowerCore CPV system. This combination has met the local farmers’ fall harvest needs, fulfilling the second objective of the expansion. “This has been a huge success meeting the needs of customers in drying to a specific target moisture,” confirms Chandler McCullough, Bloomingburg plant manager.

Because sampling is a critical step for quality and grade measurement, Authorized Grain Service installed two GSI/Intersystems Mega Core-Style Probes for inbound trucks along with an inline GSI/InterSystems GRE sampler for grain shipments. The North Truck probe has a dedicated truck receiving lane. The south truck probe can sample loads from both lanes.

The GSI/InterSystems GRE sampler, installed at the top of the new build elevator, uses an under-mounted MD 1000 rotary divider for accurate samples. One sample discharge falls through the sample lines, before it goes into a pickup hopper. The sample is conveyed 500 feet pneumatically by an SD-3 delivery system, through a 3-inch pipe to the grading lab.

After lab grading, commodities are placed into a mounted hopper within the countertop. High and low sensors activate airlocks, and a pneumatic system returns all grain directly to the new receiving pits. The entire system is run through Cargill’s PLC system and integrated directly back into the facility.

Area Energy and Electric, along with Control Stuff Inc., played a vital role in connecting all of these capabilities together through a major electrical infrastructure replacement and upgraded PLC automation at the facility.

Enhancement for Efficient Operations

In a strategic move to streamline truck traffic and enhance safety, Cargill optimized the truck flow pattern and constructed a new pedestrian walkway. The implementation of the SmartTruck system, commissioned by CompuWeigh, marked a significant improvement in the check-in process. This not only reduces errors on scale tickets but also enhances operational efficiency.

The CompuWeigh SmartTruck system is the heartbeat of the facility. Trucks entering the facility are equipped with RFID tags. Upon reaching the probe area, a SmartView message board displays information about the previous entity the truck served, specifying the farm/split account entity. The inbound weight is determined by analyzing the truck’s cargo content and grade factors, and the appropriate pit is selected based on its cargo. The RFID tag is read again upon arriving at the inbound scale to ensure the truck is at the correct pit. If at the correct pit, the gate opens, and the truck is granted access. If at the wrong pit, the gate remains closed. Once outbound weighing has been completed, a scale ticket is printed from the outdoor ticket printer terminal.

To further enhance operations, traffic control lights have been added to manage staging, allowing trucks to line up at the new Brechbuhler scales.

“The extensive expansion did more than revitalize the Bloomingburg facility. With increased capacity, streamlined operations, and improved safety measures, the facility elevator stands ready to better serve local farmers, positioning Cargill as a technologically advanced and efficient hub in the region,” says Barrett.