Banner for Six Tips for Planning an Efficient Grain System

Build new or expand? — Commercial grain operations are often faced with the decision of expanding an existing grain system or building a new one. Expansion can be a good option if there’s adequate space and new components can be efficiently integrated with the existing equipment. On the other hand, capacity can be a limiting factor in many older systems. Sometimes it’s not financially feasible to expand an outdated system.

Location — Take into consideration who’s your customer and what your proximity is to them. Is your primary customer a terminal elevator, ethanol plant, feed mill or farmers? Their proximity can have a significant impact on location. Also consider how the location will impact grain basis costs and if favorable railroad rates are available as well as your desired market share. These will all have an impact on the area you will need to draw grain from.

Future expansion — Grain yields have been increasing in recent years, requiring more storage. Planning for that growth upfront will lead to better decisions about current as well as future equipment needs — including the number and capacity of grain bins, conveyors and dryers that will be needed. Always include additional space in the layout of a new system to accommodate more equipment as the operation grows. Also remember that space doesn’t do much good if you don’t’ have the infrastructure – natural gas and electric – to expand.

Traffic patterns — Plan the grain system layout to ensure efficient traffic patterns for loading and unloading. The goal is to avoid bottlenecks. The worst thing is a semi stuck idling waiting to unload. Take time in the design phase to simulate loading and unloading in order to reduce potential delays.

Power — Three-phase power is needed for operating large machines and motors in today’s larger grain systems. It’s really a necessity for high-capacity dryers because of the large amount of grain being dried. In areas where three-phase power is not available, a phase convertor can be used to run three-phase motors and engines from existing single-phase power sources. Single-phase power may be sufficient for smaller grain systems, but more power may be needed to meet future growth.

Profitability – Last but not least is your profitability. Make sure you know your operating costs and the revenue needed to meet your margin requirements. Also consider how much additional margin could be captured with automation.

For additional information work with your grain system dealer. To learn more about GSI grain system equipment, visit

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