2012 – fall Issue

Design-Build Elevator Expansion

While this year's wide-spread drought will undoubtedly affect grain yields nationwide, Farmers Elevator Coop, with locations across northwest Iowa, is investing for the long term. Farmers Elevator Coop is building additional grain storage bins and upgrading their control system - all with the intent to improve operational efficiency.

Interstates Companies is working with two of the Farmers Elevator Coop locations to execute their design-build project. Upgrades to the Alvord, IA and Larchwood, IA locations require collaboration from all Interstates Companies' disciplines. The design-build scope of work includes electrical engineering, electrical construction, instrumentation design and installation, control system design and implementation, and startup assistance.

Similar upgrades are being implemented at both locations including:

  • Electrical engineering & short circuit studies
  • Power distribution to accommodate new & existing equipment
  • Motor control & instrument wiring (approx 50 new motors across both locations)
  • Site lighting
  • Instrumentation including a bin temperature monitoring and a hazard monitoring system (bearing temperature sensors, belt alignment sensors, etc.)
  • Control system implementation including an upgrade of hard wired system to an automated PLC system using Allen Bradley CompactLogix hardware

With elevator upgrades complete, Farmers Elevator Coop will be able to move grain at a much faster rate and with greater efficiency. Larger motors and conveyors will transfer grain more quickly throughout the facility. This is something growers are sure to appreciate as they unload grain during the busy harvest season.

Added storage capacity will accommodate higher grain volumes, another great benefit to growers needing to sell grain. Use of bin temperature monitoring as well as grain leg monitoring will protect both the grain and equipment investment by ensuring proper temperature and smooth equipment operation.

Added control system automation will allow elevator staff to keep a better watch over operations with a more inclusive view of the facility. If something were to occur (i.e. a piece of equipment becomes plugged) at the first sign of trouble, operators will be able to visualize where the issue originates and can quickly troubleshoot to correct the issue. In all, the system is built to prevent downtime and create a safer operating environment.

When asked about the challenges the crew faced on this project, Andy Van Voorst, Foreman, Interstates Construction Services, comments, "It's a lot like any other project where schedules are always a factor. Clients need their projects done quickly. Like other operating facilities, the space we are working in tends to be tight. We are used to these types of challenges and the team does a great job of meeting or beating them." He adds, "We get the job done because that's what we're here to do. We work hard and we make it work."