Below Rail Infrastructure, Freight Rail

CBH preparing network for bumper crop

Grain handling business CBH is spending millions to enhance sites across its network to prepare for an estimated 14-16 million tonne crop this year.

The group’s general manager of operations David Capper said his team is preparing for a bumper year with improvements and refinements underway across the network.

“We’ve been working on the Network Strategy which is a $750 million maintenance and site enhancement program across our sites,” Capper said.

“By the time we reach harvest we will have already seen significant progress towards the network of the future.”

An extra open bulk head is being built at Wagin so there will be more storage available in time for harvest, Capper explained.

“Improved equipment at the site on existing storage will see quicker turnaround and throughput times,” he said.

Elsewhere, improved equipment on existing storage will improve turnaround times at Dumbleyung, an extra open bulk head will boost storage in Merredin, and in Albany there’s a project underway to improve the transfer of grain from train to conveyor, with works set to shutdown the port site briefly in September.

Capper continued: “Just outside Albany, the Mirambeena site will be ready for harvest, despite heavy rain in the area slowing construction in recent months. It’s a great asset and having a feeder site for the Albany Port and increasing capacity in the zone will make operations across the zone more efficient.”

Capper says the aim of these projects is to build the network of the future through the CBH Network Strategy.

But due to the current crop potential, CBH has also planned to build 400,000 tonnes of emergency storage across the state, with the potential for additional emergency capacity to follow as and the harvest potential becomes clearer.

“It’s important that growers and the market understand that there is still a long way to go yet,” Capper explained.

“The high yields being discussed are highly dependent on good spring rain and in some areas water logging means that a few weeks of dryer weather would be welcome.

“There are a number of other factors making planning for this year’s harvest more difficult than usual.

“Currently the grain market is very soft, meaning it’s difficult to predict how much grain will ship between now and harvest and how much harvest shipping will occur.

“Also the early estimates received from growers indicate a strong swing to coarse grains away from wheat which will have a significant impact on storage capacity.”

CBH has currently received 40% of grower estimates, with an ideal target of at least 80%.

“When we get clear information about what growers have planted it helps us prepare to receive that crop and get the best balance of services and segregations across sites,” Capper said.

“If you don’t tell us what you’ve planted and how much, we can’t plan to give you the service that you need, so jump on Loadnet and fill out your estimates today,” he told growers.

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