Finding the Right Location
After operating for decades, the Midwest Farmers Cooperative (MFC) faced limited opportunities to expand their global market reach. With most transportation of their grain occurring by truck, the co-op decided the best way to grow would be to build a new rail terminal. The terminal would need to have rail service and highway access for inbound trucks, and be strategically located with respect to MFC’s current operating facilities.
Once MFC found a location that met those requirements, they worked with system integrator Wachter Inc. to design an automated facility, based on the PlantPAx® distributed control system (DCS) from Rockwell Automation. Now up and running, the terminal helps MFC bring their corn and other grains to new markets.
Need for Train Transportation
MFC, a full service cooperative, brings together 4,100 farmer patrons in Nebraska to negotiate higher prices as a group and reach customers they may not have immediate access to otherwise. The co-op operates 28 facilities in Nebraska, where farmers truck in grains to be dried, conditioned and stored until purchased and transported out. However, only a few terminals had access to trains to carry the grain to market. That meant trucks were the primary means of transit. This fact limited the co-op’s customer base to those companies operating in the Midwest.
The co-op efficiency also was limited because most of its terminals were not automated. Operators needed to manually keep processes moving forward.
MFC knew a greenfield facility would be crucial to growing their business, providing a larger customer market to their patrons and keep operating costs low. They decided to build a fully automated, central hub terminal with access to both major U.S. rail lines.
Centralizing Controls for Success
Co-op management found a location in Syracuse, in southeastern Nebraska, that met their requirements for rail-line access. The co-op secured the land and moved forward with planning.
MFC decided to partner with Wachter to design and automate the new ag terminal. Watcher knew that the Rockwell Automation Solution Partner could provide the automated controls solution that was needed.