Safety will be a key focus for the Grain Elevator and Processing Society’s (GEAPS) Exchange 2019, with an interactive grain bin rescue demonstration, multiple presentations in the Expo Hall and educational sessions.

The event, which is March 9-12 at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center in New Orleans, Louisiana, U.S., will feature more than 400 exhibitors in the Expo Hall, nearly 40 hours of educational programming and a variety of networking opportunities at special events.

“The growth of this show over the last few years is encouraging,” said Robert Taylor, GEAPS International president. “Along with a huge number of exhibitors, we are seeing more and more companies reserving larger spaces and bringing more equipment. This gives attendees more opportunities to get hands-on with equipment. Along with our Expo Pods and the new grain entrapment rescue demo, the Expo is a great opportunity to build your skills and learn about the newest products and technologies.”

The rescue demo will be in the Expo Hall at various times throughout Exchange. The interactive training will reinforce proper rescue techniques for grain entrapment and help participants build skills to keep themselves and co-workers safe.

Grain entrapment continues to be a leading cause of death or injury at grain handling facilities. In 2017, the most recent year for which data is available, there were 23 documented entrapment cases in the U.S., according to information collected and reported by Purdue University’s Agricultural Safety and Health Program. Entrapments accounted for 43% of the 54 cases involving agricultural confined spaces documented in that year.

Asphyxiations and entrapments had the highest fatality rate reported at 100% and 52% respectively, according to the 2017 summary of incidents. The number of entrapment cases was down 26% from the 29 recorded in 2016 and was lower than the five-year average of 29.4 cases per year.

The five-year running average has continued to drop from its peak of 40.4 in 2011. The number of fatal cases (1) is the second lowest since 1985 while the number of non-fatal cases (12) was the fourth largest recorded.

In addition to the grain bin rescue demonstration, the Expo Pods in the Expo Hall on Monday, March 11 and Tuesday, March 12, will focus on safety. The pods are some of the most interactive learning opportunities at the Exchange, offering hands-on learning opportunities. Designed for small groups of up to 40 attendees, these sessions feature interactive presentations and equipment demonstrations. Presentations include hands-on time and question-and-answer ­sessions.

The pod sessions will cover open belt conveying safety, enclosed belt installation, explosion protection for bucket elevators, pipe conveyor technology and safety, hazard monitoring systems, bucket elevator safety, drag conveyor safety, OSHA requirements, bulk material handling safety devices and sensors and fire prevention systems for bucket elevators.

For the first time, free daily admission to the Expo Hall is available for GEAPS members, along with a new discount for additional booth workers who are members. View all the registration options on the Exchange 2019 website (

GEAPS has partnered with Experient, a housing management company, to handle all hotel reservations and inquiries for Exchange 2019. Reservations must be made online through the housing page on the Exchange 2019 website.

The room block cut-off date was Feb. 7. After that date, room availability is based on hotel availability and may not be available at the discounted rate.

Educational programming

As in past years, the educational programing begins with the Opening Workshop at 8 a.m. on Sunday, March 10. Other learning opportunities include up to 22 hour-long, concurrent education sessions and the Idea Exchange, highlighting new methods and technologies that make the grain industry safer and more efficient. Several of the education sessions will qualify for continuing education units (CEUs).

The hour-long educational sessions throughout the day on Monday and Tuesday are selected by the Exchange Education Programming Committee, which starts with a list of hundreds of program ideas and narrows the list based on member input and timely industry issues impacting members. Session topics are based on GEAPS’ seven core competencies.

Here’s just a few of the presentations scheduled for this year’s conference:

  • “Understanding and Managing Generations,” Carlie Crouch, learning and development manager, Perdue AgriBusiness.
  • “Using Infrared Imagery in the Grain Industry,” Philip Mondro, sales engineer, Fluke, IndustrialGroup.
  • “How Big Data Can Increase Profits, Reduce Downtime, and Improve Customer Service,” Rachel Tormbetta, software engineering director, General Electric Digital.
  • “Efficient Drive Technologies for the Future,” Hans Rodgers, industry account manager, SEW-EURODRIVE.
  • “Maintaining Grain Quality Through Well Designed and Managed Aeration Systems,” Francesco Selva, technical manager, AG Growth Int. – FRAME srl.
  • “The Power of a Construction Schedule: Best Practices for Construction & Project Management,” Marc McClure, general manager, OSC Safety; Terry Collins, project/millwright manager, CVA; and Jim Gales, construction department manager, CHS.
  • “Facility Design: Maximizing Efficiently and Throughput,” Kurt Rosentrater, associate professor, Iowa State University.
  • “Mergers and Acquisitions 2.0: Evaluating the Intangible,” Nick Clinebell, professional engineer, Nohr Wortmann Engineering and Jeffrey Berg, owner/president, Crown Appraisals, Inc.
  • “Human Performance Reliability in Relationship to Safety,” Phillip Belcher, principal consultant, DEKRA.
  • “Rail Design: On Track Insights for Your Site,” Quin Vincent, partner, VAA, LLC.
  • “Saving Cost by Monitoring Fumigations,” Rahul Singh, president, Uniphos Envirotronic PVT, Ltd.
  • "Energy Supply Options for Grain Drying,” Boyden Kneen, general manager, Utility Energy Systems.
  • “The Importance of Price Risk Management to the Grain Merchandiser,” Richard Jelinek, vice-president global education, INTL FCStone.
  • “Utilizing Laser Scanning with your Next Facility Project,” Ross McEllhiney, projects manager, Louis Dreyfus Company.

Idea exchange and opening workshop

The Idea Exchange features a variety of companies who give brief presentations on how their product or idea benefits the industry. This year’s event, which is open to all attendees, will be from 9:45 to 11 a.m., Sunday, March 10, in Theater A of the Convention Center. This year, it will feature 15 companies with new products.

The opening workshop from 8 to 9:30 a.m. on Sunday, March 10, will focus on “Why Are They Still Entering Grain Bins?”

A survivor will share a first-hand account of how fast a grain bin entrapment can happen. The in-depth workshop will examine why entrapments occur and how to prevent them. The discussion will also cover new technology, equipment, trends, procedures and safety equipment to use when grain bin entry is necessary.

It is presented by Carol Jones, professor and Buchanan Chair, Oklahoma State University. The speaker will be Arick Baker.

Special events

A NOLA Mixer special event for first-time and international attendees is planned from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. Saturday at the Convention Center. During this ticketed event, attendees will enjoy drinks and appetizers and learn how to make the most of their time at Exchange. Longtime GEAPS members will share information on the organization and tips for navigating the event.

The get acquainted event also is planned Saturday evening from 7 to 11 p.m. at Generations Hall located in the warehouse district a few blocks from the Convention Center. Network with attendees while experiencing Louisiana with an interactive crawfish boil, a full NOLA inspired buffet and entertainment.

The President’s Reception and Banquet is planned 5 to 8:30 p.m., Tuesday, March 12 at the Hilton Riverside. The event includes a cocktail reception followed by a gourmet meal and a traditional Mardi Gras parade with a variety of entertainers as well as recognition of GEAPS’ highest award winners.

A post conference tour is planned from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Wednesday, March 13, of the Zen-Noh grain facility on the Mississippi River. The tour will last about two hours and provide insight into an export facility. The group will meet at the Hilton Riverside lobby at 9 a.m. and a bus will take attendees to the facility. Wear closed-toed shoes; hard hats and safety glasses will be provided by the facility. Tickets can be purchased a la carte.