grain bin inventory

Would you bet thousands of bushels of grain on your memory? Are you 100% certain that squiggly line on a white board is a one and not a nine or a seven? Do you know off the top of your head where the grain in your bins came from? Are you sure how much more #2 corn you need to fulfill a pending contract?

It’s natural to have a nagging doubt that your current system might let you down. Manual scribbling on a white board or notes on a spreadsheet might be the way you’ve always recorded information about your commodities, but there is a lot is riding on that information. You need a reliable way to keep track of the quality and quantity of your inventory, and here’s why:

#1 Accuracy

Of course you need to know how much grain you have and what quality it is with weighted average grade factors. If you don’t know what you have, you can’t market it, and you shouldn’t have to estimate what is in your bins. Accurate calculations are a must to help you see what fits the requirements for grain contracts.

Grain handlers who accurately capture the attributes of each load and deliver consistent quality earn the reputation of reliability. This helps ensure ongoing supplier of choice business relationships with processors.

#2 Segregation of Grain

It’s more important than ever to know the quality attributes of your grain. End-users are requesting more specific characteristics, whether the grain is ultimately destined for food, feed, or fuel, and quality has a direct effect on the bottom line. Inventory management can no longer be “hit or miss”, and your staff must have a solid grasp on quality control.

Having consistent grain quality impacts a processor’s ability to provide consistency of their finished products to help improve customer satisfaction and protect brand identity. Reaching a high level of consistency is directly related to what happens with the binning, blending, and storing of the grain.

Blending, of course, is key for accurately delivering on contract specs. Estimating is not the best way to determine averages, but it’s all some grain businesses can do. Knowing what is in each bin is crucial, and segregating allows businesses to keep commodities with valuable traits separate. This empowers them to command a higher premium and to hold value above the base price and/or use weighted averages to make the margin.

#3 Timeliness

Knowing the attributes of your grain allows you to make solid business decisions fast in order to take advantage of market conditions. Having the right kind of information about elevator inventory helps businesses deliver what the market wants when it wants it, and this can mean additional premiums.

Putting real-time information into your merchandiser’s hands is critical for getting the most out of market opportunities. Not having a solid way to keep track of what is in each bin means averages would have to be estimated, and that increases the chance that you might not get the best price if the estimate is too low.

#4 Identity Preservation and Traceability

Since the Public Health Security and Bioterrorism Preparedness and Response Act of 2002 (the “Bioterrorism Act”) went into effect, any businesses that manufacture, process, pack, transport, distribute, receive, store, or import food have to establish and maintain records identifying the source of food and who is receiving it. It’s a measure aimed at protecting the nation’s food supply, and as such, accuracy is important.

This is why grain businesses must know—and be able to show—where grain came from, where it went within their facilities, and where it shipped in order to be compliant with these regulations. Managing identity-preserved grain does add complexity to operations, but it doesn’t have to be difficult.

One big part of maintaining the purity and quality of grain is bin cleaning. Electronic tools can provide a historical view of bin activities (including cleaning) to keep track of when they happened. The processes to maintain consistent traceability of premium-value grain are without a doubt stringent, but software, such as binSight, can help with these processes.