MENDOTA, ILLINOIS, U.S. — A new Archer Daniels Midland Co. mill in the Chicago area leaves the company ideally situated to serve one of the largest flour markets in the United States, said Kevin Like, president of ADM Milling, Decatur, Illinois, U.S.
Like spoke to Milling & Baking News, a sister publication of World Grain, at the mill Sept. 18 just after the new facility was dedicated in a formal ribbon-cutting ceremony attended by about 300 employees, guests and members of the media. He described the mill, with 30,000 cwts of daily flour milling capacity, as the largest ever built from the ground up (versus through later capacity additions). The facility is located in Mendota, about 100 miles west of Chicago.
“In recent years, bakers in the Midwest have raised their production capacity,” Like said. “ADM is investing to support that growth.”
The mill will supply customers in Chicago and surrounding markets in northern and central Illinois, southern Wisconsin, northern Indiana and eastern Iowa, Like said.
“The size of this market is very large,” Like said. “A tremendous amount of flour comes from outside the region.”
In the past, ADM has served this market with mills in Chicago; Salina, Kansas, U.S.; and Minneapolis, Minnesota, U.S. (Atkinson mill). The company has closed the Salina and Minneapolis mills and plans to close the Chicago mill shortly. The three mills have combined capacity of about 29,000 cwts, a figure nearly identical to the new Chicago mill.
“It’s a rare opportunity in the milling industry to be able to build everything from scratch, brand new,” Like said. “Often in milling we’re adding on to flour mills, integrating. This was an opportunity to build new, from the ground up. Every area of the mill is laced in new technology.”
The new mill features three 10,000-cwt units. The A and B units will mill hard red winter and spring wheat while the C unit is a swing mill, able to grind soft wheat, hard wheat or whole wheat ground from hard winter or spring wheat, including fine whole wheat flour.
Visitors at the dedication ceremony were given a tour of the C unit, which was in operation (and has been for nearly two months). The B unit has been operating for about two weeks, and ADM currently is in the process of starting up the A unit.
Principal equipment supplier for the new mill was Ocrim S.p.A., Cremona, Italy.
ADM broke ground for the new mill in June 2017, and during the dedication ceremony, Christopher M. Cuddy, president of ADM’s Carbohydrates Solutions division, congratulated the team responsible for building the mill and the company’s suppliers for completing construction of the large, state-of-the-art mill in just over two years.
“ADM has a long history of leading-edge innovation,” he said. “We are committed to setting the standard for technological innovation in our industry.”
Soft wheat for the mill will be originated locally and delivered by truck while spring wheat and hard winter will be shipped by rail. The mill has a loop track with capacity to unload 110-car unit trains. The Mendota property has been the site of an ADM grain elevator since 2007. An additional 2 million bushels of wheat storage was added as part of the mill construction project. Currently the elevator has 2.75 million bushels of wheat storage dedicated to the flour mill, in addition to 4 million bushels of corn storage.
The mill is served by the Burlington Northern railroad and is located near Interstate-39 and Interstate-80 highways.
Additional advanced features of the mill cited by ADM include:
- Centralized monitoring to maximize uptime and efficiency.
- High-speed packaging line (25- and 50-pound bags, at 18 bags per minute).
- Quality control laboratory.
- About 2.5 days of bulk flour storage capacity for each unit.
- 30,000-square-foot warehouse that can load three trailers at once.
- Three high speed truck loadouts.
- A truck facility that uses RFID technology to ensure efficiency and accuracy.
- Overpass that eliminates rail interference with truck traffic.
The mill will be able to ship both bulk flour and millfeed by rail, in addition to truck.
Gerald Richardson, president of Ocrim representative CETEC Cereal Technologies Inc., Elkridge, Md., highlighted a number of features of the Mendota mill designed to address issues of growing concern in the industry. These include energy savings from closed loop variable-frequency drive control for exhaust and pneumatic systems, bacterial-inhibiting sieves in sifters and stainless steel spouting and exhaust ducting throughout the mill.
ADM will benefit from the mill’s advanced technology, particularly compared to the aging mills the company closed, Like said.
“Our industry is always changing,” he said. “Standards are getting higher.”
The completion of the Mendota mill follows by less than a year the completion of a major update of ADM’s flour mill in Enid, Oklahoma, U.S. While 30,000 cwts is the largest daily capacity ever for a new U.S. mill, the Mendota facility will be the nation’s fourth largest, according to the 2019 Grain & Milling Annual published by Sosland Publishing Company. Larger U.S. mills, expanded over time, include North Dakota Mill & Elevator, Grand Forks, North Dakota, U.S., 52,500 cwts; Ardent Mills, Hastings, Minnesota, U.S., 32,500 cwts; and Mondelez, Toledo, Ohio, U.S., 31,000 cwts. ADM’s flour mill in Beech Grove, Indiana, U.S., ranks fifth at 28,000 cwts.