Safety and the latest in grain handling technology will highlight the Grain Elevator and Processing Society’s (GEAPS) Exchange 2020, which returns to the Midwestern U.S., March 21-24.

The event, which will be at the Minneapolis Convention Center, Minneapolis, Minnesota, U.S., includes several safety-oriented sessions while the Idea Exchange and Expo Hall offer an opportunity to explore new equipment and processes. In addition, there will be more than 40 hours of educational programming as well as social events and a post-conference tour at Rahr Malting.

GEAPS International President Steve Myers, Bunge Milling, has attended the Exchange for the past 12 years. He uses the conference as an opportunity to meet with partners face-to-face to get a lot of work done.

“Last year, I got to talk with one of our software suppliers,” Myers said. “We sat down and went over all of the new updates and they gave me a look at some new things that they are working on. Exchange is such a large gathering of industry folks; it’s a huge opportunity to address issues at our facility.”

Safety focus

The Opening Workshop, from 8 to 9:30 a.m. on Sunday, March 22, will focus on the commitment to safety. Industry leaders and safety professionals will give first-hand accounts of real-life safety situations and the methods they have used to correct hazards and prevent injuries. Participants will have a chance to engage in case studies and ask questions. Presenters include Kevin Danner, regulatory compliance director, Landus Cooperative; Brad Bousquet, vice-president of safety, CVA Cooperative; and Eric Grundke, corporate safety director, Kiewit.

Several of the Expo Pods, which are designed for small groups and hosted in the Expo Hall, will focus on safety issues. Some topics include grain entrapment rescue tubes, grain entrapment prevention kits, confined space entry equipment and grain bin entry roles and accountability.

Like last year, there will be a grain entrapment rescue demonstration in the Expo Hall.

The 40 hours of educational programming also includes sessions focused on safety. Donald Groover, senior vice-president at DEKRA, will present World Class Safety Culture from 7:30 to 8:30 a.m. on March 23, with a look at the pillars of a good safety foundation and how they distinguish the best safety companies. That afternoon, Vahib Ebadat, chief executive officer of Stonehouse Process Safety, will discuss safe processing of combustible dust.

Other safety sessions include five strategies to keep workers safe around belt conveyors, presented by Jerad Heitzler, training manager, Martin Engineering, and Safe From Day One, which will cover managing the hiring process, the use of instructor-led and online training, hands-on training, job shadowing programs and routine reinforcement training, presented by Joe Mlynek, partner, Safety Made Simple, Inc.

New technology

New technology will be on display at the Expo Hall, which will feature more than 350 exhibitors offering products and services across 18 categories. The grand opening will be 11 a.m. on March 22 and the Expo will remain open until 6 p.m., with a welcome reception from 4:30 to 6 p.m.

The Expo will be open 9:45 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Monday, March 23, and 9:45 a.m. to 1:45 p.m. on Tuesday, March 24. The Idea Exchange from 9:45 to 11 a.m. on March 22 will feature short presentations on new products and is divided into What’s New and Small Changes…Big Impact! In the What’s New section, presenters include: The Edge Sweep, Sioux Steel Company; Barge Stowage Exam Camera System, Seedburo; Self-Learning Custom Stroke Electric Actuator, LINAK; TSS2, Anderson Engineering; SureTrack PRO, Intellifarms; Barge Cover Handle, Wellman Solutions, LLC; and Guardian Positioning System, JMI Covers, LLC.

In the Small Changes…Big Impact! portion of the program, presentations include: Uses of 3D laser scanning technologies for project cost savings, Louis Dreyfus; Chain advancer for changing paddles on box conveyor chain, Michigan Agricultural Commodities; Tarps: Tricks on bunkers, Skyland Grain; Tarp trick to use on all piles, River Valley Coop; and Pulling on grain pile tarps: Making something hard, easy, Michigan Agricultural Commodities.

As part of the educational programming, NC-213 researchers will outline and summarize innovations in grain handling and processing from a research perspective. The presentation from 7:30 to 8:30 a.m. on March 24 will examine new ideas on how grain can be processed and handled with lower energy, less waste, greater efficiency and greater profit margin. Improvement on the horizon and in the next 50 years will be discussed by Guy Roger Aby, research assistant, Iowa State University, and R.P. Kingsly Ambrose, associate professor, Purdue University. Additional educational programming topics include remediation of existing structures, how data improves elevator analytics and asset performance, preparing for an audit, grain inspection, lean in the grain industry, trade wars, silo design, grain dust systems and whether an organic and non-GMO premium is worth the process.