October 24, 2014

Auburn Bean & Grain talks about Standish plans during breakfast

Kevin Bunch
The power station and future site of the grain elevator at Auburn Bean & Grain.
Kevin Bunch
Some of the 2.5 million pounds of steel being stored at the Auburn Bean & Grain warehouse that will be bolted together to form the grain elevator equipment.
Kevin Bunch
Auburn Bean & Grain President Cliff Vennix shows an artist’s conception of the new construction his company will be undertaking within weeks in Standish, with an eye toward having operations running by mid-July.
Kevin Bunch
Bob Kennedy, Auburn Bean & Grain representative, gives a presentation about the history of the company.
Kevin Bunch
Officials and representatives of agricultural companies and farms took part in a breakfast hosted by Auburn Bean & Grain and Helena Chemical Company at ABG’s Standish office Feb. 21.
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LINCOLN TWP. — Auburn Bean & Grain and Helena Chemical Company hosted a breakfast Feb. 21 for representatives of agricultural communities and businesses at the ABG Standish office, where work continues to get their newest facility ready to go for this year’s harvest.

Company representatives gave an overview of ABG’s plans and its progress at the Standish site. Cliff Vennix, president of Auburn Bean & Grain, said they now have 2.5 million pounds of steel in storage, which will be used to continue construction of the site’s loading facilities in a few weeks.

“Everything is built in the shop and sent here to be bolted together,” Vennix said. “We’re hoping to get started on the fourth of March.”

Currently the office building off of US-23 is complete, and across some railroad tracks near Old M-10, a power station is standing where the grain elevators, conveyor, storage tanks, and cleaning equipment will be located. Nearby are two pits for corn and soybeans, Vennix said.

He said the company has a rail spur that trains with around 90 cars can pull onto. The trains will pull up on the track near Standish Milling and decouple from their cars, and ABG will push the empty cars to their elevator operation.

There, a Programmable Logic Controller, or PLC, computer system will analyze the cars — their capacity, car number, and other relevant information — and automatically clean and load grain product into them. Vennix anticipated the cars each having a capacity of about 3,350 bushels.

“It will be the fastest grain elevator system in Michigan,” said Jim Byrum, president of the Michigan Agri-Business Association. “The PLC system is totally automated, and can be operated remotely. It can do about 30,000 bushels in an hour.”

Vennix noted that the computer system will also keep track of how all its systems are running, and if something is malfunctioning or going wrong, it will shut everything down in sequence to prevent damage.

When the cars are filled, an ABG engine will take them back to the main track to be reconnected with their own engine. From there, the trains will return downstate.

“When the train hits Flint, it’ll be all hands on deck,” he said. “We want that train to be back to Flint in 24 hours.”

Vennix said he has invested about $12 million into the project, and with nearly 30 acres of property on either side of Old M-10, there is room to expand the elevator operation in the future if farm production continues to improve as he expects it will.

“We haven’t built one big enough yet,” he said.

Auburn Bean & Grain was founded by Cliff Vennix and his wife Jan in 1970, and has operations in Auburn, Saginaw, Hemlock, and Oakley. Standish will be its northernmost grain loading operation, and Byrum said it would be the northernmost grain handling facility in the state.

Vennix decided to build at the Standish site because it is near a rail line and has enough track to utilize it without trains having to cross any roads.

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