Filling the Gap to Keep Project on Pace

outside view of a grain facility

September 8, 2022

Green Thumb Commodities in Oldham, SD, has been supplying retailers and farmers with seed for forty-eight years. During a new project at its Jefferson, SD, location, Interstates provided complete engineering design, controls automation, instrumentation installation, and construction services, otherwise known as Integrated Project Delivery (IPD).

According to Josh Rensink, Owner of Green Thumb, “The goal of this project was to tie two facilities together using an automated system.” The first facility was an older grain elevator, and the second was a greenfield grain and seed cleaning facility. Rensink says, “Interstates brought both those facilities, from two completely different eras in grain handling, together seamlessly. We are now able to use automation and computer control systems in both facilities to move and process grain.”

Full-service Project Increases Capacity

To increase Green Thumb’s internal cleaning and packaging capacity, Interstates handled everything from early design all the way through construction and controls programming. Through weekly meetings, each team stepped up and came together to talk through issues and plan the next stage.

The IPD approach paid off. According to Tarri Rott, CEO at Green Thumb, “The Jefferson facility triples Green Thumb’s capacity and takes pressure off our current facility in Oldham, SD. We will be able to bring cleaning and packaging that was previously outsourced to a third-party back into our own facility. This allows us to better manage quality control, supply chain, and distribution. In addition, the new facility allows us to reach markets that we previously could not.”

Roll-out Lighting Speeds Up Install Time

Interstates is always looking for ways to add value and save time. On this project, roll-out lighting was a small solution that helped in a big way. The Interstates prefab shop built roll-out lighting that utilized the facility’s permanent lighting fixtures. Nate Van Kley, Project Manager at Interstates, says, “Temporarily powering up the permanent fixtures instead of having to hang and power up temp lighting saved a lot of time. When it was time to go to permanent power, all the fixtures and wiring were already in place.” Josh Kroll, Foreman at Interstates, estimates the roll-out lighting solution saved the project at least three weeks.

Another time saver involved wiring for control panels. Evan Westra, Project Engineer at Interstates, says, “The shop prespooled all the wiring that would go between two cabinets. Once it was on site, they just had to pull it in and terminate it versus having to run all that wire.” The shop also prefabricated junction boxes. Westra says, “Making junction boxes in the shop simplified the wiring and standardized it for easier installation and also easier maintenance down the road.” While this wasn’t originally in the scope, Interstates saw a way to save time and benefit the client with a clean, simple installation.

Early Planning Helps with Hazard Monitoring

To keep the facility and workers safe, Interstates recommended specific hazard monitoring devices such as bearing temperature monitors, rub blocks, plug sensors, and motion sensors. Kroll says, “Monitoring the temperatures of bearings and belts is really important when you have seeds and dust in the air. It will prevent a fire.” Because of long lead times, plans needed to be finalized early so devices could be ordered. “Some of the devices we needed had lead times longer than eight weeks,” says Kroll.

Foresight in ordering materials was key. Green Thumb’s Rensink says, “We were really happy with how Interstates was on top of ordering in supplies and equipment. With supply chain delays and uncertainty of availability, what Interstates had their hands on was very well organized and showed up when it was needed.”

Green Thumb has now met its goals of increased capacity and automation. Rensink calls the control system “user friendly,” and Rott says the new facility gives the Green Thumb operations team the technology to operate the facility from a desktop computer or a remote iPad. He adds that Interstates’ expertise and professionalism guided Green Thumb through the electrical and technological components of the project, saying, “The Interstates team filled in gaps during the project with sound and economical options to keep the project on pace.”