Agribusiness & Food

Allied Grain Systems secrets of success

With more than 35 years of experience operating grain handling systems, John White, Allied Grains Systems Managing Director tells ABHR the secrets of success in the agriculture sector.

With more than 35 years of experience operating grain handling systems, John White, Allied Grains Systems Managing Director tells ABHR the secrets of success in the agriculture sector.

Smithfield Cattle Company is a family-owned cattle operation that grows and markets cattle both domestically and internationally, located in Proston in the South Burnett, Queensland.

The company is one of the largest cattle businesses in Australia, with two feedlots located in Smithfield Proston (20,000 head of cattle) and Sapphire Goondiwindi (15,000 going on 20,000 head). Here is where the business facilitates feed lotting, crop production, cattle grazing and consulting.

Smithfield Cattle Company operates a silo storage system on these sites and has done so for many years. However, the business began looking to expand its existing grain storage operations to facilitate smoother growth and efficiency.

This is why Jason Shearer-Smith, Managing Director of Smithfield, approached Allied Grain Systems. He says the team handles roughly 50,000 tonnes per year with the existing grain storage system, and he estimated it would grow to 70,000 tonnes annually from the end of 2020.

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After reviewing and considering many ideas and concepts to improve the existing systems, the business was looking for something quick, easy, and reliable to facilitate that growth.

“Allied Grain Systems, by far, was the best at designing a simple, reliable, high-capacity system at a competitive price,” Shearer-Smith says.

“The storage system will allow key opportunities such as faster unloading and greater capacity to better manage our harvest.

“We spoke to many manufactures for ideas and concepts. We chose to work with Allied because John White was excellent to deal with and the company was very cost competitive.”

John White started Allied Grain Systems in 2004, using his background in mechanical engineering and mining to design and build grain conveyor and storage systems.

White says the biggest asset for Allied Grain Systems is its customer base – the company has repeat business rates of up to 60 per cent.

“You’re only as good as your last project,” White says. “Our customers are happy about what they’re being offered and some of them don’t go anywhere else because of that.”

Smithfield purchased 4000 tonnes of grain storage from Allied Grain Systems, along with a 75-tonne garner bin and 150 tonne/hour elevator with an eight-way head. The system has been operating for more than a year at this point, and Shearer-Smith says it has been working perfectly with the existing system.

“Everyone has been excellent; John and Ken with design, Muz with the concrete, and the construction crew were truly professional and easy to get along with,” he says.

“Our Allied Grain handling system is a quality well-designed system that we are really proud of.”

Smithfield is part of Allied Grain Systems’ Mates in Grain program, which aims to build a community of active grain growers to share their stories and advice. It provides a space where other farmers can learn about how to best handle their grain and promotes regional and rural communities.

One of the key things for farmers to maximise their grain process is through on-site storage. White says that more farmers are beginning to store on site as the distance between grain receival sites continues to grow.

“There are around 25 super-sites on the east coast of Australia that are the result of consolidation. As the number of receival sites shrinks, to get the best efficiency from their grain farmer store on-site,” he says.

“This means farmers don’t have to make commercial decisions during the busy harvest time, they can just store it in a bin and work out when to sell later. In some areas of Australia, harvests can see work happening for more than 24 hours straight.

“If farmers can store on site, that means they don’t have to wait in queues at an elevator terminal. Over the life of the silo, many farmers even end up paying off the cost of the silo within a five-to-six-year period,” he says.

Storage can also prove to be valuable during a drought. Farmers can store grain in bins for a few years. During the recent drought, White says the price of grain more than doubled, meaning that anyone that the ability to hold onto grain was invaluable.

The business has grown almost every year, even during the drought, and is expanding its operations in Young, NSW. Allied Grain Systems bought the building next door and will expand its main workshop and has set up new offices in Toowoomba.

White says the company’s reputation is vital, which is why it aims to produce quality equipment.

“You don’t last long without a good reputation in this industry,” he says. “People in agriculture tend to be passionate about their business and want to know how we will support them.”

“I could send our team out to a project and know they’ll have a really good understanding of what needs to happen. That makes a good impression and supports the industry.”

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