Saturday, January 26, 2013

Week ending January 26th...

This past week I had the opportunity to travel down to New Orleans and view ADM's AMA grain handling facility courtesy of Nathan Ehrhardt at 1st Farm Credit Services and Lynn Byington at ADM.  It was an excellent trip.  Here are a few facts I discovered while taking this tour:

  • Even though this is on the mighty Mississippi River, you are still 117.5 miles up river from where the river exits into the Gulf of Mexico
  • 40% of the Port of New Orleans business goes through one of the five NOLA ADM facilities; these combined for over a billion bushels of commodities loaded last year
  • 55% of all commodities leave the US through NOLA
  • ADM's NOLA locations shipped commodities to 57 different countries last year
  • 90% of the grain these facilities receive is via river barges; the remainder is via rail
  • ADM currently only owns seven ocean going Pana-max vessels
  • This AMA location holds 22 different grains and grain by-products at one time
  • AMA can off load an average of 80,000 bushels per hour direct to the waiting ship
  • A typical Pana-max vessel holds 2.1m bushels and most carry four to five different commodities per run; these are called "destination loads"
  • The only true "one commodity" vessels lately are soybeans headed to China
  • It takes roughly 33 days to get from New Orleans to China at an average cost of $30,000 a day for vessel and crew costs
  • A Pana-max vessel is 105' wide by 728' long; the new "Post-Pana-max" vessels will be 140' wide making it difficult for current facilities to load
It was amazing to see how this giant operation worked.  They track grain quality and barges throughout the entire US and are always looking 2-3 months forward.  Rarely, do they ship #2 corn and most corn loaded out of NOLA is grade #3.  Each load is tailored to meet rigorous and specific tolerances.  To achieve these exact tolerances, one person blends commodities coming from different silos simultaneously.  It is not a computer doing this, but rather a person trained for three months to perform this specific role.  Also, the amount of paperwork that goes with each shipment is crazy with each barge load on the vessel having to have it's original destination documented.  

If you ever get the chance to go on a tour like this, take the opportunity!

 ADM's AMA facility in New Orleans - one of five of their facilities

Looking across the levy on the Mississippi River side of ADM's AMA facility 

Command central - the gentleman on the left was controlling where the grain was being sent from the barges being unloaded while the gentleman on the right was loading the Pana-max vessel.  He was controlling three different commodities and the blends thereof at the same time... 

Looking up river off the bow of the ship headed for Guatemala

For dust control, this facility uses two giant mist cannons which grab the dust particles in mid air and drag them down in the mist as it settles.

A video of how they unload barges and move the grain in house.  This 77,000 bushel barge that came in from northern Mississippi was unloaded in 55 minutes...

 Another way to unload barges; anchor in the middle of the river and use cranes to grab the commodity and dump it directly into the ship.

Empty barges and a view looking down river.

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