State-of-the-art upgrades unveiled at Seneca terminal

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The quiet town of Seneca was once home to the Prairie Shipyard that built 157 of the Landing Ship Tanks that were used during World War II. Twenty-three of those ships participated in the D-Day assault on the beaches of Normandy, France.

Seventy-eight years later, the former shipyard is home to GROWMARK’s state-of-the-art fertilizer terminal. A Sept. 29 ribbon-cutting ceremony celebrated the innovative technology installed inside the new building to improve speed and efficiency. Among the updates were a stabilized dock, a larger excavator to unload barges faster, a smart conveyor system with a larger hopper, and a new storage facility for products coming off barges, in addition to a smart kiosk designed to help truck drivers get in and out of the facility quickly.

The terminal also uses an easy automation order management system, which is integrated with their load check app, according to Lyndi Patrick, a wholesale business analyst with GROWMARK, who demonstrated the system during the event.

“The system is designed to give the trucker an accurate and quick experience at the terminal,” Patrick said. “The driver uses a QR code as the driver badge to gain entry into the facility and it automatically populates the kiosk with information for the load, allowing drivers to finish in under four minutes as opposed to about 12 minutes per load before.”

Jeff Hall, a facility engineer with GROWMARK, said another unique aspect of the terminal is its ability to pivot between several types of transportation. “The ability to receive product from trucks, barges and rail gives us flexibility. If barges cannot move due to low water levels, then we switch to rail. It helps ensure a steady supply for our customers and farmers.”

Illinois State Sen. Tom Bennett, R-Gibson City, who attended the ribbon-cutting, said it’s important to recognize the terminal as another contributing factor to Illinois agriculture. “This fertilizer terminal is part of the economic engine supporting agriculture from the local level to the global level,” he said. “With a major capital investment by the GROWMARK/FS System, this facility has been modernized for efficiency to ensure our farmers have access to the crop nutrients they need to grow an abundant and reliable crop to feed and fuel the world.”

By the Numbers GROWMARK’s new Seneca fertilizer terminal includes: • 26-ton hopper – a new larger hopper means more products can be faster on the new smart-conveyor system. • 5.5 cubic yard bucket – a new excavator with a larger bucket means a barge can be unloaded faster on the dock. • 4 to 6 hours – is the new time it takes to unload a barge as compared to 1.5 days before the upgrades. • 5 minutes – the new time it takes a truck driver to pick up a load, reduced from 12 minutes before the integration of the new system. • 2 new conveyors – move product faster with a nimble system that can slow down, speed up, start and stop as needed.