American Crystal Sugar Company
Hillsboro Processing Plant
GPS: 47.434612, -97.062921
Like an Octopus with tentacles everywhere, this behemoth scared the snap out of me when I first saw it. Pictures and videos did not do it justice. I had no idea what I was going to do to it or what it was going to do to me.
The dictionary says a Piler is “one that piles or heaps up; especially: one whose work is piling materials or products for storage, transportation, or processing”. Our Piler is not a person, but a huge piece of machinery used to receive truckload quantities of sugar beets delivered from the growers and pile these beets for future processing. Kringstad Ironworks manufactures these for American Crystal Sugar Company.
At the Hillsboro receiving station where we worked, there are six pilers.
In just a few minutes, a piler can digest a large truckload of beets. At a rate of about 250 tons an hour, this big guy can pile 5,000 to 6,000 tons of beets per day.
Part of the piler is a large cleaning device to carry out a secondary cleaning of the beets since the harvester has not cleaned all foreign materials from the beets in the field. The cleaning screen, known as the grab roll screen, is comprised of a slanting row of scrolled and smooth rolls. These rolls, perpendicular to the travel direction of the beets, turn at different speeds; scrolled rolls turn faster than smooth rolls. Beets are bounced and rolled through a water spray, being scrubbed clean as a result. Dirt and other foreign materials (known as Tare Dirt) fall through the rolls, are collected in a hopper, and returned to the delivery truck as the last step in the process.
The piler includes a mechanism for extracting buckets of samples from the stream of sugar beets and dropping them down a chute where we bagged them.
These samples are transported to the company laboratory in Grand Forks, ND and analyzed for sugar content. The result of this analysis becomes the basis for payment to the farmer.
Despite its size, this thing is actually a movable electric appliance. A power cord approximately 200 feet long supplies electricity at 440 volts. The operator moves the piler back as the pile builds up – typically a couple feet once every hour or so.
The crew for a piler is six (or seven) people:
** Ass't Operator (operates the boom)
** Four Helpers (two on each side -- process trucks, collect samples, clean up)
** Skidsteer operator (usually shared by more than one piler)
This short (1:57) video was produced by Kringstad Ironworks, the piler manufacturer. It shows the piler throwing the beets to the pile, the beet truck dumping the beets into the piler, the cleaning process, the piler being moved, and finally the tare dirt being returned to the truck.
Now you know a little bit about Sugar Beet Pilers.
Posts about the Sugar Beet Harvest
FIRST DAY IN NORTH DAKOTA
Hillsboro, North Dakota, we have arrived
GETTING READY FOR WORK
Some paperwork to get us started
ON THE JOB TRAINING
A trip to the Hillsboro factory for some OJT
TEN DAYS OF WORK
Notes and pictures on our ten days of work
A quick summary of the annual campaign of sugar beet processing
THE SUGAR BEET
Bigger than a coconut, smaller than a football. Here is the story on the sugar beet
I was very impressed with the big machine we worked on. I thought you might like to learn more.
THE SUGAR BEET PILE
How big is a pile that contains 90,000 tons? Here are some pictures and figures
DOWN AND DIRTY: GIVING BACK THE TARE DIRT
Harvesting root crops produces dirt. How to handle and dispose of it is an interesting side story
A LOOK AT THE SUGAR INDUSTRY
A $20 billion industry with 142,000 jobs in 22 states. Take a look at the Sugar Beet Industry
AMERICAN CRYSTAL SUGAR COMPANY
Get a closer look at the company providing this workamping opportunity.
EXPRESS EMPLOYMENT PROFESSIONALS
If you are a workamper interested in short term hard work for big bucks, here’s the link