A group of farmers and other businessmen in rural Minnesota saw a way to bring jobs and opportunity to their local area and needed a sophisticated engineering partner to make it a reality. In the spring of 2012, a new canola refining plant began operations near Hallock, MN. Years in the making and with a total construction cost of $168 million, the plant employs about 50 people and produces over 280 million pounds of high value, food grade canola oil and 195,000 tons of canola meal annually.
KFI Engineers (KFI) worked with Northstar Agri Industries to define their initial concept for a canola processing facility. KFI also brought their expertise in agribusiness and large scale processing to project development, site selection, preliminary design, selecting the technology, pursuing financing, overseeing the construction of the plant, and commissioning it before operations began. From applications for variances, approvals and town meetings to investor due diligence, KFI worked alongside Northstar every step of the way to provide the information that kept the project moving forward.
The plant is laid out to maximize efficiency and to make it easy to operate by centralizing utilities operations, having a common chemical treatment area, and using added value subsystems that create a leaner operation. In addition, the possibility of future expansions was built into KFI’s design of the plant so that it can grow without putting a burden on the owners’ ability to maintain it.
The plant opened early and under budget because KFI understood the total cost of processing plants including all of the construction costs. Throughout the process, the costs have been transparent between the contractor, KFI and the owners. KFI also worked closely with Northstar on the purchase process for the technology that is used in the plant.
The plant opened in May 2012, two months ahead of schedule – saving the owners two months worth of construction costs and giving them extra revenue-producing operational time. Within 100 miles of the plant, there are about one million acres planted with canola. The facility will be able to process 1,000 tons of canola seed per day, up to 345,000 tons annually, which is about 450,000 acres of canola plant.
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