GEAPS Exchange 2008

by Arvin Donley
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In more ways than one, the 2008 Grain Elevator and Processing Society (GEAPS) Exchange promises to be the largest show in the 79-year history of the event.

GEAPS organizers have signed up a record number of trade show exhibitors and are also offering their biggest educational program ever, with more than 28 hours of sessions over a three-day period.

GEAPS Exchange 2008 will be held Feb. 23-26 at the Qwest Convention Center in Omaha, Nebraska, U.S. It marks the first time since 1972 that the Exchange has been held in Omaha, located in the heart of maize and wheat country.

The event typically draws more than 1,500 attendees and features more than 200 trade show exhibits, but those numbers are expected to be much higher this year, organizers say. As of late November, 217 exhibitors had reserved booth space on the trade show floor and officials said they are expecting 225 companies on the exhibit floor by the time registration closes, which would be a record.

The attendance record may also be broken as GEAPS organizers are anticipating about 2,000 attendees, in part because Omaha is located near the center of the U.S. Corn Belt, which could mean a large walk-up crowd.

As part of the Exchange, GEAPS has organized a special workshop that will address how to recruit, hire and retain good workers at grain facilities. The workshop will be held from 7:30 to 11 a.m. Sunday, Feb. 24.

According to GEAPS, the topic of employee recruitment and retention has been requested more than any other by GEAPS members during the past several years, "indicating there is a problem out there."

The workshop will include several speakers and an hour-long panel discussion allowing the audience to ask questions or make suggestions on how best to tackle these challenges.

This year’s expanded educational program includes 18 45-minute presentations on a wide variety of issues relating to the grain industry. Here is a summary of the topics to be presented:

• "Maintaining Your Power Transmission Belt Drives," Steve Small, Gates Corp. The session will cover the best ways for grain facility operators to keep their power transmission belt drives running with optimum efficiency.

• "Rail Safety: Anytime is Train Time," Chad Korth, Nebraska Central Railroad. This session will focus on "Operation Lifesaver," a comprehensive nationwide rail safety initiative dedicated to ending collisions, fatalities and injuries at highway crossings and on railroad right of ways. With a focus on safety at grain facilities, the session will look at issues such as communication, switch positions, derailment and rail and railcar inspections.

• "Global Impact of the Ethanol Boom," Ken Hobbie and Dan Keefe, U.S. Grains Council. The global implications of the ethanol boom will be examined. This session will discuss supply-and-demand issues that bridge local and international concerns. Increasing opportunities for exporting distillers dried grains, and the already significant demand for the co-product in Asia, Mexico and Egypt will also be discussed.

• "Storage and Material Handling Considerations for Dried Distillers Grains (DDG), Mike Schuster, Laidig Systems, Inc. The session will review current methods of handling and storing dried distillers grains at ethanol plants and offer insight on potential issues for those considering DDG usage at feed mills. The session will also compare advantages and disadvantages of DDG and wet distillers grains.

• "Electrical Safety & NFPA 70E," Dave Nicewicz, ADM Grain. This presentation will help facility owners and operators explore the safety issues that are detailed in NFPA 70E, a supplement to the National Electric Code (NFPA 70).

• "Fall Protection — Do We Really Have a Program?" Wayne J. Donnelly, New Heights Industries, Inc. The current situation regarding fall protection at grain facilities will be reviewed in this session. It will include a basic overview of fall protection regulations, a discussion of fall protection program development and implementation and a sample of training course requirements.

• "Pest, Product Loss and Health Concerns," Sean Rollo, Orkin Pest Control. This session will focus on what attracts pests such as rodents, birds and flies to grain facilities as well as product loss from infestation, the potential for human disease and the best ways to keep pests at bay.

• "Food, Fuel and the Right Thing to Do," Richard K. Perrin, University of Nebraska. With food prices rising and poor people in large parts of the world scrambling to find their next meals, the boom in maize (corn)-based ethanol production raises some important ethical and environmental questions, which will be examined in this session.

• "Managing Your Aeration System: Breeze in to Learn More," Scott Chant, Safe-Grain/Maxi-Tronic Inc. This session will provide an overview on grain aeration techniques, management and equipment.

"OSHA’s Voluntary Protection Program," U.S. Department of Labor. Details about how a company can get involved in the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s Voluntary Protection Program will be discussed at this session.

• "Cutting Energy Costs Out of Thin Air," Thomas Godbey, Donaldson Co., Inc. A significant portion (sometimes up to 50%) of motor energy consumed in a grain operation is consumed by airmoving equipment. This presentation will focus on reducing energy costs for existing systems, system expansions or improvement and installing new systems.

• "Non-Confined Space Engulfment Risks," Tom Zemanick, Cargill. The focus of this session will be on non-confined space storage areas at grain elevators that can pose engulfment risks. This means grain and fertilizer storage areas that have engulfment risks but are not considered confined spaces by OSHA.

• "Transportation Workers Identification Credentials Program," Kevin Gilheany, Maritime Compliance International. The Transportation Security administration and the U.S. Coast Guard are implementing a Transportation Worker Identification Credential (TWIC) program that will have a significant impact on many waterfront facilities and vessels. This session will describe how companies can develop a comprehensive plan to implement TWIC requirement at their grain facilities and on their vessels.

• "Starting at the Top: Bin Roof Maintenance," Jack Kenney, D.C. Taylor Co. This session will discuss the best approaches to keeping bin roofs in good condition and will review rooftop evaluation strategies and techniques, as well as regular maintenance and repair — and how to do it safely.

• "Manage Your Construction Project," Sid Fey, Nationwide Agribusiness Insurance. This session is designed to show companies how to protect themselves in the event that something goes wrong during their grain facility building and construction projects. Ensuring that contractual obligations are met and the importance of certificates of insurance are among the topics to be discussed.

• "Country Elevator Maintenance " Randy Springer, Pepper Maintenance Systems. This session will discuss precision installation, vibration and bearing life, alignment and equipment life, heatflow analysis and resistant heating, and the total effect on the bottom line.

• "The Future of Plant Genetics," Dr. Ted Crosbie, Monsanto. In this session, trait and germplasm prospects in plant breeding over the next 10 years will be discussed.

• "Temporary Grain Storage: A Panel Discussion," Bob Marlow, The Andersons; Justin Towery, Bayou Grain & Chemical Corp.; Dan McBride, United Farmers Cooperative. The panel discussion will offer real-world insight and examples from experienced industry professionals about how they have dealt with temporary grain storage.

For the second straight year, GEAPS will have educational "pods" on the trade show floor. This year the pods (curtained-off areas designed for small groups) will focus on equipment used to assess grain quality. The hands-on learning opportunity will feature dockage testers, image analysis, moisture meters, aflatoxin testers and NIR protein analysis, as well as sessions on Canadian grain inspection and U.S. grain inspection. "We think the pods will appeal to virtually all of our attendees," said Kathy Reading, GEAPS educational programming committee vice-chair. "We expect to see some of the new industry folks in the grain-inspection, dockage-tester and moisture-tester pods, and some of our more seasoned veterans at the image analysis and aflatoxin sessions."

The pods will be Monday, Feb. 25 and Tuesday, Feb. 26.

The expo hall grand opening ceremony is 11 a.m. Sunday, Feb. 24, with a lunch buffet scheduled for noon on the trade show floor. The trade show will be open from 11:15 a.m. to 2:45 p.m. on Sunday, 10:15 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. on Monday and 9:45 a.m. to 1:45 p.m. on Tuesday.

Approximately 350 booth spaces will be occupied, which shatters the record set in Kansas City, Missouri, U.S. in 2000, when exhibitors occupied nearly 300 booths.

To register for the GEAPS Exchange, visit GEAPS has negotiated a special room rate at four hotels near the convention center. To obtain the reduced rate, you must contact the hotels directly (go to hotel_info.cfm). The cut-off date to receive the reduced rate is Feb. 1.