Cobb-Ventress, a subsidiary of Tyson Foods, is well into the slip form construction stage of building a poultry feed manufacturing facility just west of Albany, near Gaddie-Shamrock and WANY Radio Station.
Bob Chavis, Project Manager – Milling Manufacturing Services from Tyson Foods, Inc., said the project has several stages, including site prep, mill foundations, slip form construction, equipment installation, electrical installations, ancillary buildings, drive and parking and finally test runs and production start up.
Construction workers are now working on the tower and when complete, it will stand 168 feet above ground.
Chavis said there is seven feet below the surface which will put the structure at 175 feet total from bottom to top.
“We are building it for about 2,000 tons of finished wheat. When it’s in production, I think the plans now are for around 1,000 tons,” Chavis said. There will be 2,125 yards of concrete in the structure. That’s just in the tower itself … not including the other buildings and stuff.”
As of Monday morning, February 3, the crew at Cobb-Ventress were starting the fourth day of continuous concrete pour. Come Saturday, according to Chavis, the outside structure of the tower should be complete.
“Normally it takes about seven days,” Chavis said. “This one will probably end up at eight total days.”
Chavis said their plans were to get started with the slip form construction on January 27, but the weather set construction crews back a week.
“Our biggest thing was, when we got started, trying to keep the temperatures above 55 degrees. They have to add certain things to the concrete to make sure it cures right,” Chavis said. “Once we get rolling, the only thing they stop for now is lightning.”
The continuous pour has workers working around the clock, with 80 workers putting 12 hours per day on two shifts.
“We have about 40 employees per shift,” Chavis said.
To get the concrete into the slip forms, a large crane hoists a concrete hopper to the top of the building. The hopper can hold around three yards of concrete.
“The truck will off load into that hopper, then they will put that into another hopper that they have up top. They have little buggies they will put the concrete in and move it to the walls. Depending on where they are at, they don’t want that concrete sitting in the hopper to long,” Chavis explained.
Chavis also noted that crews are in constant radio communications during the process to make sure everything goes as planned during the procedure.
“They also don’t want the truck sitting in the parking lot too long. They can radio the base plant and tell them how long the truck has been sitting here, what the concrete is like and what it’s doing or what they need to do to the mix,” he said.
Chavis said the crew is adding about a foot an hour to the height of the tower structure, which is involves about 10 yards of concrete. That rate varies depending on a host of conditions, including the section of the tower being worked on.
“Right now we are only moving up about eight inches per hour,” Chavis said.
Roger Miller, Director of Feed Manufacturing Engineering for Tyson Foods, Inc., said he has run 16 to 18 inches per hour on other sites in the past.
“When you get toward the end you have a lot of heat built up and you are just doing an outside wall,” Miller said. “On a day when it’s 100 degrees it cures pretty fast. I don’t think that’s going to happen here.”
“I think the fastest we’ve been is 12 inches per hour,” Chavis added.
Chavis said even though the weather has caused some setbacks, he still expects to meet the finish date of December 2014.
The feed mill will purchase corn and soybeans from local farmers and purchase as much as one million bushel of corn annually. According to Chavis, the plant will provide anywhere from 9-15 jobs once the mill is complete.
The facility will be called the Cobb Feed Mill. High quality poultry feed for the Cobb hen flocks will be produced here and delivered to Cobb farms in the Kentucky, Tennessee, Virginia and North Carolina areas.
“Cobb has three different regions where they grow the hens,” Miller said. “This location is kind of central to them in order to feed those areas. They are expanding as well so this will help to support that growth.”
Miller said this plant will also help with quality control on their feed as well.
“It will make sure we are getting what we want,” Miller said. “Sanitation is a big deal. They make sure the bacteria is controlled and we can sanitize in this facility.”
Local concrete company, Albany Redi-Mix, is providing the concrete material being used for the Cobb-Ventress project, and crews from that local firm are also working around the clock during the pouring operations, giving the local economy a boost even before the feed manufacturing facility is in operation.