Southwest Iowa Renewable Energy

Success Stories 

Southwest Iowa Renewable Energy
Nebraska Manufacturing Extension Partnership

"The workshops provided through the Nebraska MEP and its affiliates provided our employees with the necessary information to operate our ethanol plant. The cost was very reasonable, and was one of the few opportunities offered in our region. It has more than paid for itself through SIRE being able to retain a position, on our staff of 65. We highly recommend this training from the Nebraska MEP."

Eric Dressen, Plant Engineer

Workshops provide "standard operating practices" for ethanol plant workers

Southwest Iowa Renewable Energy, LLC or "SIRE" is a state-of-the-art dry-mill grain processing facility, located on 275 acres in Council Bluffs, Iowa, producing 140 million gallons of ethanol per year. It also produces over 365,000 tons of Dried Distillers' Grain (DDGs) annually and has the ability to produce Wet Distiller Grains (WDGs). It also produces approximately 90,000 pounds of corn oil per day. The facility consumes over 44.6 million bushels of corn feedstock annually. The grain originates from a large portion of southwest Iowa and several counties in southeast Nebraska. SIRE began producing ethanol in February, 2009 and sells its products-including ethanol, distiller's grains, corn syrup, and corn oil-in the continental United States, Mexico and the Pacific Rim.

Situation

Plant production of ethanol has increased from 110,000 gallons per year to 140,000 gallons over the past ten years. Changes in government regulation and staff turnover and retention were factors in finding a source of best practices and training.

Solution

SIRE sent 6 personnel through two different Nebraska MEP workshops over a two-year period: Process Safety Boot Camp and Process Controls Essentials. The workshops were designed to familiarize employees with best practices for operating an ethanol plant, as well as gain a better understanding of government regulatory obligations and compliance. The material gleaned from the workshops was ultimately used in making plant improvements.

Results

Over the past 1.5 years, SIRE has invested approximately $150,000 in new plant equipment, $40,000 in employee workforce practices, and $30,000 in new products and processes. Training has led to the retention of 1 job.