Grain elevators

Building for Tomorrow: Construction of Legacy ZFS Ithaca Plant Requires Lifting Expertise

Construction of the new ZFS Ithaca plant, a unit of Zeeland Farm Soya, required the services of an expert crane rental company: JJ Curran Crane Company of Detroit.

“The picks have gone smoothly,” reports Jim Curtis, a Superintendent with Jackson Industrial Construction of Concord, Michigan. “JJ Curran is a good company. They have great guys and do a super job.”

JJ Curran Crane is working as a subcontractor for Jackson Industrial on the ZFS Ithaca job as that company installed some of the towers and bridges, conveyors, bucket elevators, dryer drums and hopper bottoms at the $129 million plant. JJ Curran Crane set the bridge conveyor, scalper and dryer.

Jackson Industrial has built a receiving building with three truck bays and one rail bay to accept incoming grain deliveries. Jackson Industrial began the project by preparing the site for two concrete silos and then pouring those silos. The two concrete silos hold about 480,000 bushels. During the concrete pours on those two silos, crews worked 24 hours per day for seven days.

At the same time, the company poured concrete for the four 105 steel bins and four hopper bins. Then Jackson Industrial built the four 105 steel silos to hold soybeans, constructing one silo about every six weeks. Each steel silo can store 840,000 bushels. Next came installation of Warrior bridges and towers over the 105 steel bins. Jackson Industrial prefabricated other towers and bridges at its shop in Concord and hauled them to the site for erection. The bridges weighed 100,000 pounds each. Lifting them up into place required two cranes.

In addition to grain receiving and storage, the plant also includes soybean processing and feed ingredients transloading. The facility is sized to meet Michigan’s soy processing and soybean meal needs for the next generation. The meal is fed to livestock and poultry.

“We are not building and sizing the facility for today, but for tomorrow. This is a long-term, 40 or 50 year investment in Michigan agriculture,” said Cliff Meeuwsen, President of ZFS Ithaca, in a statement. “We are building a legacy plant that will fulfill all of Michigan’s soybean processing needs for decades.”

The facility is being built at the 435-acre site of a former corn ethanol processing plant. ZFS Ithaca received local and school tax relief from the Michigan Strategic Fund. The plant is expected to create 75 full-time jobs. ZFS Ithaca expects to begin operations in late 2018 or in 2019.

Zeeland Farm Soya is Michigan’s largest soybean processing company, processing more than 28,000 bushels of soybeans daily. Its first soy processing plant in Zeeland has operated for more than 20 years. This will be ZFS Ithaca’s second location in the state.

The plant will operate 24 hours per day, 355 days of the year, producing soybean meal, hulls and oil. It is designed to process 40 million bushels of soybeans annually.

Crane Picks

JJ Curran Crane performed four picks, setting a dryer and conveyor system atop soybean silos at the processing plant.

In April, JJ Curran Crane lifted 25,000 pounds at a 60-foot radius; a 21,500-pound pick and a 11,800-pick, both at a 60-foot radius; and a 15,500-pound pick at an 80-foot radius. The company had two cranes at the jobsite: a Manitowoc 450-ton Grove GMK 6400 and a 350-ton Grove GMK 6300L, both all-terrain cranes. For this job, the Grove GMK 6300L crane used a 223-foot main boom, plus a 39-foot fixed jib with two loads of counter weight.

“These cranes have been a big part of our fleet for a couple of years,” says Jeff Curran, President of Fleet Cost & Care, the company’s technology partner, and CFO of the JJ Curran Crane Company. “I do not think we could have made better choices. They have been busy since the day we got them. Our customers seem to love the reliability.”

Bill Depyper, an oiler with JJ Curran, set up the cranes and maintained them during the job. It takes about an hour to set up a crane. He said, the jib takes about another 45 minutes. Pat Farr, who has been with JJ Curran more than 20 years, was the crane operator during the job.

“The picks were at different locations which required the crane to be moved around the site,” added Matt McVittie, a Field Engineer for JJ Curran, responsible for the lift plan and organization of the crane and its personnel.

About the Contractors

Safety is a top priority for Jackson Industrial, which works throughout Michigan, Indiana Ohio, Illinois, Nebraska and Virginia. The company, founded in 2013, specializes in the design, construction and operation of agricultural facilities, including feed mills, distilleries and storage facilities; industrial construction, such as conveyor systems and in-plant upgrades; commercial construction, including warehouses, metal office buildings and manufacturing facilities; and general contracting. The company currently is building a flour mill and has several other projects under way. When a crane is needed, Jackson Industrial calls JJ Curran Crane.

“They have what we need,” Curtis says.

JJ Curran Crane, founded in 1950 by John J. Curran, as an excavating firm. Four years later, he bought his first crane – a Lorraine 30-ton mobile truck crane. Recognizing the need for cranes in the city, Curran changed the company’s name to the JJ Curran Crane Company in 1959 and began to focus more on crane rentals. Now JJ Curran Crane operates a fleet with more than 50 cranes, including tower cranes, crawler cranes, hydraulic all-terrain cranes and rough-terrain cranes. The company has added capabilities with new equipment to diversify its fleet and boost its market share. JJ Curran’s leadership understands the value in consistently upgrading its equipment and embracing technology. Under the same ownership, Fleet Cost & Care, JJ Curran’s technology partner has been selling fleet management software solutions to the construction and heavy equipment rental industries for 25 years.

J.J. Curran Crane operates throughout Southeastern Michigan and surrounding areas. It has assisted in the construction of hospitals, technology centers, wind farms and the Little Caesars Arena in Detroit. It also works on major maintenance projects and turnarounds in the area’s refineries, steel mills and heavy industrial plants. Safety is paramount whatever the job.

The company’s slogan remains “good people, quality equipment, and fair pricing.” It’s a commitment employees and leadership embrace.

“The heart of the JJ Curran Crane Company is to be there for our customers, each and every time,” Curran says.


To view the article visit: