Forest River Elevator is state of the art
Construction totaled nearly
FOREST RIVER – Forest River’s Farmers Elevator Company is back in full stride after a fire destroyed the 100-year-old structures in September of 2011.
The farmer-owned grain company didn’t stop dead in their tracks after the fire, thanks to the help of area producers. “Growers helped other growers, farmers rented us storage, loaned us equipment, and transported and dried our commodities that were piled on the ground,” said Greg Novak, elevator manager.
Novak, who says although there were things he really liked about the old elevator, the new one has its advantages. “Our growers are happy because we have a very fast turnaround time, meaning their trucks get back and forth from the elevator to the field much quicker,” said Novak.
In part, the fast turnaround time can be attributed to the computerized conveying system programmed into the new elevator by subcontractor Northern Valley Machine of East Grand Forks, Minn.
The equipment can be operated at computer screens in the main terminal as well as the elevator office. “It’s the brains of our facility,” said Novak. “It was quite an effort on the part of the engineer who did the programming and troubleshooting of the conveyance equipment for us.”
Green lines appear on the screen to indicate which conveyors and elevators are engaged and the terminal operator manages the movement of the commodities with a keyboard and mouse.
Currently, the elevator loads a maximum of 75 rail cars per day, but it has the capability of doing much more. “We could easily fill 120 cars in eight hours, if our rail capacity allowed it,” says Novak. The elevator is served by Northern Plains Railroad and Canadian Pacific, once the grain reaches Thief River Falls, Minn.
Novak, who has worked at the elevator since 2001, explained that the new elevator has four concrete silos, five overhead bins, and three interstice bins that hold grain in the space between the circular bins and silos. “The old elevator had approximately 50 segregated bins of varying size, said Novak. That made it a little easier to store commodities of varying grades.”
The construction, which totaled nearly $8 million, was completed by contractors Vigen Construction and Bergstrom Electric. It has a license capacity for 975,000 bushels. Corn, wheat and soybeans are the commodities the elevator handles. In addition to marketing those commodities, the elevator sells petroleum products including oil, fuel, grease and anti-freeze. They operate a cardtrol fueling station on-site. They also do custom application of chemicals and fertilizer.
In addition to the new concrete and metal silos and bins, the elevator has a modern and comfortable two story office building equipped with the high tech computerized operations screens, offices for the manager, office manager, agronomists and other consultants, and a meeting room.