A Publication of WTVP

Two local firms are working together to design and build a critical part of the grain transportation chain.

Collaboration comes in many forms. Collaboration between groups that bring value by focusing on their own core competencies is very common. A great example is the collaboration between Premier Fabrication of Congerville and INTEGRIS Engineering of East Peoria. These two central Illinois companies are working together to design and build barge spouts, which are used all over the world.

A Local Product
If you aren’t familiar with barge spouts, they are used to load grain barges by companies like ADM, Cargill and Consolidated Grain and Barge (CGB), as well as many independent grain terminal owners and operators. Barge terminals and barge loading are a critical part of the grain transportation chain—transportation by barge is over eight times more fuel-efficient than by truck, and more than twice as fuel-efficient as rail.

This product has its roots right here in the Peoria region. Beginning in the 1970s, John Wilham designed and built barge spouts and grain unloading equipment in the Hopedale area. Since then, his design has become the recognized leader in grain barge loading.

In 2005, Premier Fabrication and John Wilham came together on some projects designed by Wilham and fabricated by Premier. Five years later, Wilham joined with Premier to offer bulk material delivery systems for river terminals and rail unloading facilities. The cornerstone of these systems is the Wilham-designed Premier Spout. John’s lifetime of experience in the inland marine and material transportation industries, along with Premier’s manufacturing experience and structural expertise, created an easy opportunity for collaboration.

Agriculture is one of the most demanding industries on people and equipment, and grain can cause significant wear in a matter of minutes, if the equipment is not properly designed. For grain handling equipment, durability and safety are key design factors. As each barge terminal site has its own unique geographic and access requirements, the result is no two barge spouts are the same.

A World-Class Combination
In order to meet customer needs through flexibility and innovation, Premier is collaborating with INTEGRIS Engineering, which develops new products and processes through engineering rigor and industry best practices. This combination of world-class manufacturing and world-class engineering capabilities has proven to deliver a world-class product.

Through structural analysis and system simulation, INTEGRIS is able to predict and resolve issues associated with site-specific challenges. They have also increased safety and uptime by improving barge spout controls to protect against operator misuse. INTEGRIS works with civil engineering firms and facility owners to upgrade existing systems or design new systems from scratch. Working closely with manufacturers and other firms, as well as end users, helps ensure the right solution is delivered.

Most people take for granted how their food gets from farm to fork. Companies like Premier Fabrication and INTEGRIS Engineering consider that a sign of success. When engineering and manufacturing do a good job, it is much easier for everyone else.

Consider the challenges of moving billions of bushels of grain from fields to processing facilities and markets around the world. Equipment like Premier’s barge spout makes this possible. From a size and scale perspective, the Premier barge spout has a typical loading capacity of 60,000 bushels an hour. One barge can accommodate 52,500 to 57,000 bushels of soybeans—meaning you can load a river barge with soybeans in less than an hour.

Culture is Key
Both companies rely heavily on their extensive experience in agriculture. Premier was founded in 1973 as The Farm Shop, Inc., an equipment repair and specialty custom shop, in a 36' x 54' wood pole structure. Today, Premier Fabrication delivers manufactured products and steel services across a range of industries, including agriculture, construction, mining and energy. INTEGRIS has been developing equipment for ag, construction and mining since its inception in 2011. Their projects have involved planting, harvesting, tillage, irrigation and many examples of precision agriculture and software.

The key to a successful collaboration is culture. Both Premier and INTEGRIS were founded on the principle of integrity, and both see their customers as partners—with the goal of delivering quality and value. Whatever your priorities are, make sure they match with your fellow collaborators. iBi

Andy Berberich is president of INTEGRIS Engineering, and Scott Aberle is president and CEO of Premier Fabrication.