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Bulk handling facilities: it's happening in New Orleans.

It's happening in New Orleans. No, I am not talking about the legendary Mardi Gras - that already happened this year. I am talking about an historical step concerning the shipping of coffee. Bulk shipments are the future for coffee and Dupuy Storage & Forwarding Corp has made this future a reality by opening up the first bulk handling complex in New Orleans.

Traditionally, green coffee beans are transported from the producing nations in 60-kg burlap bags. In Third World countries where labor costs are low, it is still cost effective to utilize this method of bag handling, but in the U.S., where labor costs are high, handling large volumes of coffee calls for more advanced mechanical methods.

Instead of being shipped in burlap bags, this new facility moves the coffee beans on a pneumatic conveyor. The pneumatic conveyor blows the coffee beans at a high velocity through tubes at speeds of up to 80,000 pounds an hour. According to a Dupuy official, the facility is the first of its kind in operation in the U.S. - the largest coffee consuming nation in the world.

Dupuy's bulk coffee plant was not constructed completely from scratch, but instead was actually recycled from a plant that was out of commission. Dupuy purchased this plant where Owens-Illinois Inc. made glass bottles for hot sauce and cold drinks until closing in 1985. Investing more than $4 million on the facility, Dupuy created a bulk coffee plant on a grand scale.

"The plant wasn't in the best of shape," said Allan B. Colley, president of Dupuy Storage and Forwarding Corp. But it was just right to recycle into a coffee-handling version of a grain elevator. Most of the monies went into this renovation, along with the rehabilitation of a 330,000-square-foot warehouse.

At the opposite end of the complex was a tall silo with 11 bins that held raw materials. Dupuy divided this silo into 27 bins or cells, each to hold a particular type of coffee. "In the future, we do intend to add more silos for bulk storage," said Colley. "The bins are valuable to us now as temporary storage." The silo's bins can hold approximately 20,000 traditional bags of coffee. Dupuy Storage's warehouses, which are along side the new facility, can hold one million.

Next door is the heart of the bulk-handling operation. This building houses the computer controls, and in a giant room three stories high, the entry points for coffee can be found - a belt-bucket elevator for beans, a bean-cleaning machine and other equipment.

It is possible to switch from bags to super sacks to containers, but hardly efficient, according to Colley. With storage bins, you only load what is needed, but bagged coffee has to be moved quickly to prevent spoiling.

The shipping of coffee in bags is not going to completely vanish, said Colley. Warehouse operators, the link between the coffee producers and roasters, think demand will continue for old and new forms of shipment: traditional bags, relatively new 2,000-pound plastic super sacks, and 15-ton cargo containers protected by one enormous plastic liner.

Dupuy Storage was already handling a mix of traditional bags, and super sacks - cube-shaped bags designed for loading in bulk facilities. Super sacks eliminate a lot of manual handling - a single super sack replaces 13 ordinary bags of beans.

One prominent disadvantage of the super sacks though is the impact they have on storage space. Under the rules of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), ordinary pallets of coffee can be stacked six high. For example, a roaster could stack 500 ordinary bags of coffee, or a total of 76,000 pounds. Here is the dilemma. Only 24 super sacks can be placed in the same area, for a total of only 48,000 pounds. Under OSHA rules, super sacks are too tall to stack three high.

Dupuy Storage was founded by John Dupuy Sr. in 1936. His grandsons, the Colley brothers-Allan, Christopher, Kevin, and Michael - are the third generation of owners in this family business founded on Gravier Street in the heart of New Orleans.
COPYRIGHT 1992 Lockwood Trade Journal Co., Inc.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1992 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Dupuy Storage & Forwarding Corp.'s refurbished plant in Louisiana
Publication:Tea & Coffee Trade Journal
Date:Jul 1, 1992
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