Automated and integrated systems enable elevators to unload thousands of tonnes of grain with as few as 10 workers
GLENLEA, Man. — All of a sudden, new concrete and steel giants seem to spring up from the soil to suck in and spit out farmers’ crops.
Announcements of new elevator projects have come quickly during the past few years, but it’s inside the massive structures that lightning-fast speed is most evident to the farmers who came out for G3 Canada’s grand opening of its new elevator.
“It’s faster to dump a super B than a tandem truck,” said one elevator employee to a group of farmers, describing the five minute truck dumps, the 1,600 tonnes per hour train-loading rates, and the ability to load a 134-car-plus train in 12 hours.
That speed comes through a combination of the huge scale of the machinery and the automated and integrated electronic and human systems that enable new elevators to churn through grain far more quickly than past generations of elevators.
This elevator can unload thousands of tonnes of grain from farmers and load a two-kilometre long train with fewer than 10 workers.
“These terminals are designed for speed,” said Rori Bouchard, the FWS lead project manager for G3 Canada’s four new elevators, as he led a reporter into the facility.
“G3 understands time is money and ultimately is how they designed the facilities.”
Ten trucks can wait in the queue to unload, with their grain being sampled and inspected while they are getting ready to dump.
“They’re ready for that grain when he gets to the driveway,” said Bouchard.
Inside the elevator, office operations are controlled electronically, while inspectors comb through samples of grain from trucks and grain from farmers’ bins to assess what is coming in and where it should go.
“They know what bin they’re going to put his stuff in, what grade it is, all that type of thing, so he’s not sitting on the scale waiting,” said Bouchard.
Farmers touring the facility on one grey and rainy day — terrible for harvest but great for drawing farmers to events off the farm — were interested in how the incoming grain is weighed, stored, moved and loaded. The speed, rather than the size of storage or height of the structures, seemed to be the most impressive factor for them.
Bringing on the new network has been a major endeavour for G3, which came into existence in 2015.
For chief executive officer Karl Gerrand, it has seemed a long time coming.
“They’re not coming on fast enough for our liking,” he said after arriving for the grand opening.
The company wants to build a terminal in Vancouver and is building one in Hamilton, Ont.
“Once we can put together this entire enterprise, it’s going to be pretty exciting,” said Gerrand.
“It’ll be a power-on, loop-to-loop model that’ll drive really good efficiency.”