CBH bin turnaround times averaged 38 minutes last harvest, but that figure could increase due to record crop

Headshot of Cally Dupe
Cally DupeCountryman
Email Cally Dupe
Harvest time at Mingenew CBH.
Camera IconHarvest time at Mingenew CBH. Credit: Shannon Verhagen/Countryman/RegionalHUB

CBH says its massive investment in infrastructure helped keep turnaround times at its grain bins to an average 38 minutes last harvest, on target and on par with the year prior despite receiving 54 per cent more grain.

The 2020-21 turnaround time — how quickly a truck can deliver grain and leave a CBH site — was the same as 2019-20 despite the crop being six million tonnes bigger with 15.1mt delivered in 2020-21 after a below-average 9.8mt the year before.

CBH acting operations officer Mick Daw said turnaround times at sites this harvest was sitting at about 40 minutes, which was “reflective of the record crop and the large volume of grain being moved through sites”.

“Another contributing factor is the large amount of grain going through our drive over grids, which are used at our emergency storage sites,” he said.

Last year’s turnaround time was revealed in the co-operative’s annual report released this month.

At the time, CBH chief executive Ben Macnamara said it had been an “outstanding effort” and “demonstrates the level of investment” across the co-operative’s extensive network with more than $250 million invested to the year ending September 30.

Mr Macnamara said sites located in the Albany and Kwinana South Zones, where crop production has grown significantly during the past 10 years, had been bolstered with increased storage and throughput capacity allowing growers to get in and out more quickly.

CBH also continued to roll out its weighbridge enhancement program, with new weighbridges at Mt Walker, Salmon Gums and Binnu.

While truck turnaround times improved in 2020-21, there were an increased number of safety incidents at CBH’s extensive number of grain bins last harvest with CBH’s all injury frequency rate sitting at 7.3.

Mr Macnamara attributed the increase in safety incidents to an increased number of inexperienced harvest casuals working across CBH’s network of bins last harvest.

“We have been continuing to focus on investments during the number of years and this chart demonstrates the improvement we have had since 2011. . . the journey we have been on since 2018,” he said.

CBH’s turnaround time is expected to be higher this harvest, with cycle times blowing out to two to three hours at some sites within weeks of harvest.

CBH attributed the waits to unprecedented yields and WA’s record crop planting of nine million tonnes but said it would need to wait until the end of harvest to “know for certain” how much turnaround times had increased.

The grain handler’s chief operations officer Mick Daw warned growers in November that there would be “pain points” as CBH received WA’s record 22mt crop, with some sites filling and closing early.

The grain handler revealed the turnaround time as part of its annual report in December, which also included a $133.8m surplus to the year to September 30, up from an $11m surplus in 2019-20.

Get the latest news from thewest.com.au in your inbox.

Sign up for our emails