The much anticipated launch of the world's largest integrated soybeans crushing and biodiesel production facility near Claypool last August may have been premature. That's what Darrell Boone, a contributor to Indiana Prairie Farmer, discovered when he visited Jeremy Mullins, plant manager for the Louis Dreyfus Commodities plant, recently. Nevertheless, Mullins is confident that operations will become smoother and more favorable for farmers hauling into the plant as time goes on. They're already making the changes necessary to make that happen, he told Boone.
Boone visited the plant and sought out Mullins after rumors circulated that things weren't going well at the facility. Truth is that the rumors about excessively long waits to unload were true, Mullins told Boone. They resulted partly because of the delay in getting the plant up to full speed. Since they had only built limited storage on-site, when the delay meant beans stayed in the bin instead of being processed, the bins filled up much quicker than anticipated. So when farmers brought in more truckloads of beans, there was little room to put them,. At the worst point in the process, Mullins notes, trucks were literally waiting for the plant to crush enough beans to make enough room so that the truck could unload.
Building new bins that will more than double storage capacity on-site will help alleviate that bottleneck, Boone discovered. But the situation has already improved dramatically. In one day recently, Mullins says the plant unloaded 200 semi trucks full of beans. That would be difficult to do at many elevators across the state.
Getting the crushing and biodiesel process up and running and creating bin space with the facilities they have now ahs helped, he notes. There were also other snafus that have been resolved, included computer glitches and paperwork problems. The probing area where soybeans are pulled from trucks for testing wasn't under roof, making it a slower process sin rainy weather. However, it will be under roof soon.
The bottom line is that Mullins believes the facility will be able to serve farmers well this fall. He notes that considering construction hadn't even started two years ago, they've made considerable progress. As their employees become even more comfortable with the plant and processes, and as they tweak the system even more, unloading nightmares should become a thing of the past.
To see Boone's full report, watch for the May issue of Indiana Prairie Farmer.