Frenchman Valley Coop (FVC) grain elevator in Culbertson, Nebraska upgrades automation with Kasa Controls, saves $100K Year-Over-Year

How Automation Saved This Farm Coop $100K Year-Over-Year

When the Frenchman Valley Farmers Cooperative, Inc had an expansion at its Culbertson site, they decided it was time to update the automation controls on its conveyor belts and fans using Kasa Controls & Automation.

Frenchman Valley Farmers Cooperative, Inc. has a long history of serving area agricultural producers, providing crop and livestock inputs and services, grain marketing and storage, finance services, energy, and transportation. The cooperative serves a large area in southwest Nebraska, northwest Kansas, northeast Colorado, and eastern Wyoming.

By using automation to control peak usage, peak demand, and power factor, Frenchman Valley saved a significant amount of money to the tune of $100,000 in year-over-year utility expenses. 

Understanding Power Usage in Grain Facilities

When it comes to power usage in grain facilities, it’s essential to understand the power company’s rate structure and how it applies to a specific grain facility. The receipt, storage, aeration, and transfer of grain takes a lot of energy, which can impact small profit margins.

Three things usually drive cost: usage, peak demand, and power factor. A facility can decrease its monthly electrical bill by knowing in advance when it’s headed to a new peak load time and take steps to avoid it. One way to do this is to monitor power very closely, or in some cases, automate equipment to optimize utility usage.

Power companies often have clauses in their fine print that can have significant consequences for grain facilities. For example, 15 minutes of really high peak demand a month can significantly increase a utility bill for that month, but it may also activate a clause reclassifying your business into a higher service tier for the following year. Without a monitor or automation system in place, your company won’t be able to determine when that peak window is about to occur or occurring and how to avoid it in the future. In fact, you may be in that situation right now and just assume that your current utility bill is how it’s supposed to be.

There are ways to avoid peak demand and ensure that your power company isn’t defining the size of your business and how you’re charged.

Kasa Controls and The Frenchman Valley Coop Culbertson Site

The upgrade included the ability to control the fans after hours, plus the logic in the Kasa Controls system controls the inrush of the grain handling conveyors. Kasa automated the fans and grain handling conveyors, which resulted in electrical savings. Automation allowed The Frenchman Valley Coop equipment to have staggered start times, and it also only ran the conveyors when grain was present instead of constantly running. This saved massive amounts on energy consumption.

The upgrade to the Culbertson facility allowed Frenchman Valley Farmers Cooperative, Inc. to save money on its power bill. It did this in four ways.

  1. Control equipment after hours and/or remotely
  2. Stagger equipment starts
  3. Only run equipment when in use
  4. Warn operations if they were approaching a peak demand or excessive use charge so that load could be shed prior to the 15 minutes of excessive load.

Similar to the Frenchman Valley Coop Upgrade, Kasa conducted similar upgrades to Cooperative Producers, Inc. (CPI). Kasa worked with Cooperative Producers, Inc. (CPI) to update the control system for their Fairmont Nebraska grain elevator and train load-out location. Kasa’s automation system allowed CPI to run the facility more efficiently and with less manpower, especially with respect to train load-outs. With the Kasa automation system at Fairmont, CPI can load a 116-car train over an hour and a half faster than was previously possible with their old software.

Frenchman Valley Coop Grain Operations Manager, said the most significant benefit to working with Kasa is customer service and the quick response from the Kasa team.

To learn more about how Kasa might be able to elevate your grain operations, contact us today.