Weyburn Inland Terminal

The wooden grain elevators are disappearing from the prairie skyline. Here is what is being built to replace them. This page describes the Weyburn Inland Terminal, a massive concrete structure built by local farmers to help themselves get better prices and fairer policies. 

The quaint old country elevators held as little as 25,000 bushels.
This facility holds 3 million bushels.

About 1500 farmers invested the cost of a steel bin each, about $1200, to build a modern, fully computerized, world class grain storage, processing and marketing operation. It had won several quality and efficiency awards and has established several firsts

  • first "condominium ownership" concept 
  • first fully computer automated facility
  • first to integrate process control and accounting computers
  • first to pay farmers more when they deliver clean grain
  • first to pay farmers for dockage rather than charge them for it
  • first to accept grain in any problem condition and process it to the highest grade possible
  • first to blend grades and moisture content to accurately meet customers specifications
  • first to stay open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week (closed only on long weekends)
  • first to maximize returns to farmer rather than penalizing them at every opportunity
  • first 100 car (unit) trains
Engineer/farmer cousin Ed has been involved with the building of WIT since day 1, and particularly with the computerization. Ed gave us a detailed tour of WIT, from bottom to top. 

Ed giving the tour to Mom, Marge, Murray, Fran
and about 20 other family members just out of camera range.
When a farmer arrives with a truck load of grain, a robot arm reaches down from the buyer's office and sends a sample up to the buyer for testing pricing. The sample is separated into good grain, broken kernels, dockage and dirt by the machines in the picture on the left. Then it is tested for moisture content by the computerized machine on the right. 
The buyer then visually analyses the sample for grade and puts a value on the truck load before it is dumped. The farmer is even paid for the "dockage" (the pile on the left) because WIT has found customers for it too. 

All grain handling is computer controlled. The entire operation is graphically modeled in these consoles.

Air is used to move the grain. Giant 300 hp electric motors are used like vacuum cleaners to get the grain moving from truck to cleaner to dryer (if necessary) then to one of the 38 or so round concrete bins. 

What makes this operation special is their ability to exactly meet their customer's specifications. This means mixing grades and moisture content to get the highest return for the farmers. Farmers may end up getting paid for a higher grade of wheat than they are delivering because it can be mixed with other wheat and still meet a buyer's spec. 

What's next - why not make pasta right on site where the grain is freshest and shipping costs 0.