Not just large from our perspective, this project was the largest flour mill constructed at one time in the United States of America. It was a massive undertaking for everyone involved, and we loved every minute of it.

5 Electrical Innovations at The Mendota ADM Facility
5 Electrical Innovations at The Mendota ADM Facility

Karl von Knobelsdorff | Knobelsdorff Enterprises

When you’re a company that takes on projects of all shapes and sizes, you don’t always know what you’re going to get. Sometimes you get a small, local job that takes a few crew members on the ground. Other times, much larger projects come knocking. And once in a blue moon, you’ll get a shot at one of the largest projects your firm has ever seen. This is starting to happen more often as our reputation grows.

Two years ago, we got the opportunity to be part of a large project. Not just large from our perspective, this project was the largest flour mill constructed at one time in the United States of America. It was a massive undertaking for everyone involved, and we loved every minute of it.



Our client for this project was Archer Daniels Midland Company (ADM). ADM is one of the world’s largest agricultural processors and food ingredient providers. Founded in 1902, ADM has been transforming crops into products for more than a century.

ADM invited Knobelsdorff Enterprises to be a part of this project because we’ve established a history of completing quality work for them. Previous ADM projects have included: 

For the Mendota facility, our firm was up against five other companies for the project, but our previous working history with ADM and our extensive experience in the flour milling industry gave us an edge. After all, ADM wanted to work with a firm that had knowledge and experience with the equipment going into the facility and with high voltage electrical work



ADM set out to create a new, state-of-the-art flour mill in Mendota, IL. The new, 30,000 cwts (US hundredweight) facility can mill spring, winter and soft wheat varieties, plus two types of whole wheat. Now complete, the mill features: 

  • A loop track with 110-car shuttle rail unloading capacity.
  • Three milling units with centralized monitoring to ensure performance, consistency and security of supply.
  • Three bulk truck load-outs and rail load-out capability.
  • A high-speed packer and a 30,000-square-foot warehouse.
  • A brand-new lab with the most up-to-date quality control equipment.
  • An onsite transportation company, including a truck wash and an advanced truck facility utilizing RFID technology to ensure efficiency and accuracy. 



Our part of bringing the Mendota ADM facility to life was a massive undertaking. On any design-build project, coordinating all the moving pieces requires cooperation from all parties. With this project’s complexity, there was a lot of design coordination between ADM, the equipment manufacturer, the construction company and KE (Knobelsdorff Enterprises). 

Here’s a look at the work KE provided on the project. 


35KV Distribution System

KE provided engineering, design, procurement, installation, start-up and commissioning for the 35KV distribution system, including 3,500’ of underground conduit and cable installation from the Utility 35KV overhead lines, directional boring under the BNSF mainline, 35KV metering, 3 — 35KV VFI’s, 6 — 2500KVA transformers and Protection and Controls for the 35KV distribution system.

The 35KV system also includes remote control and monitoring of all the 35KV equipment and 480 volt main breakers. We also designed and installed the conduit and cable for the 15KV power distribution for the BNSF track switches and heaters.


480 Volt Power Distribution

KE provided engineering, design, procurement, installation, start-up and commissioning for the 480-volt power distribution, motor controls, general use power and lighting for the facility. This consisted of 5 — 3000amp 480-volt switchboards, 18 — 800amp MCCs in 5 different Electrical Rooms powering 1065 motors totaling over 15,000HP.

The facility was powered with energy-efficient LED lighting that is controlled through the plant control system. 


Facility Network

KE provided Engineering, design, procurement, installation, start-up and commissioning for the facility network, including admin and process controls network. We installed the plant fiber optic backbone, including fusion splicing and testing. We installed, terminated and tested over 15 miles of ethernet cable in the buildings. 


Process Controls System

KE provided engineering, design, and installation for the conduit and cabling for the process controls system. This included the installation of the PLC and RIO cabinets, conduit and cable installation and terminating and testing of the field instrumentation, including over 3,200 devices. 


Miscellaneous Wiring

In addition to the items above, KE was also responsible for the wiring of the following systems on site: 

  • Lighting protection
  • Card access
  • Fire alarm
  • Emergency lighting
  • Vesda early smoke detection for aspiration ducting
  • Fire explosion detection and suppression for dust filters and bucket elevators
  • Hazard monitoring for speed, alignment, and temperature on the bucket elevators



To date, the Mendota ADM facility was the largest industrial electrical construction project our company has completed, and we did it. We completed the project without a single injury. We completed the project on time, despite dealing with numerous delays and winter conditions. This project put a lot of pressure on us and taught us our capabilities are greater than even we previously thought.

We are very proud of our team and every individual involved in this project. From the engineers and designers to our suppliers, supervisors and skilled tradespeople. The sheer quality of work on site is amazing. 

We are so proud of the final result and every step it took to get there. We would like to thank ADM and all of the other site contractors involved in making this project possible.



About Karl von Knobelsdorff
Karl von Knobelsdorff has been the President & CEO of Knobelsdorff Enterprises since 2015, and has grown the company to new heights. His work ethic and dedication to doing things the right way, the #KEway for the Knobelsdorff customers and team members is the foundation of the recent years of success, and the success that is yet to come. Karl likes to take challenges head on, and has built the team to solve them all.


The content & opinions in this article are the author’s and do not necessarily represent the views of ManufacturingTomorrow

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