The Grain facility in Helsingborg on getting ready for the intensive harvest season

We met Krister Rami, Grain Operations Manager in Helsingborg, on a sunny day in mid-June. Krister will soon be off on an early vacation and his brother's wedding in Morocco to then be back in time for the busy harvest. We had a chat about how to get ready for a particularly important harvest.

Krister manages the grain facility in Helsingborg, which, with its storage capacity of 260,000 tons of grain, is the largest in Sweden. The facility has ten full-time employees, and ahead of the season, an additional 40 people are brought in to handle the pressure from the trucks and tractors rolling in to unload their harvest. These seasonal workers start around week 30 to receive training and an introduction to the facility and then work during about six hectic weeks.

This is my third season, and about 80 percent of the seasonal workers are returning. Some are students, but we also have some with other jobs who take time off to run the season with us.

Krister Rami

With a shaky season last year when the harvest was both low in volume and poor in quality, the hopes are high that this year will bring a good harvest. During the year, the employees work with unloading, processing, and cooling. Also, a lot of maintenance to be fully focused on receiving the grain, taking samples, and storing during the season. For example, with lessons learned from last year's wet harvest, adjustments have been made in the handling in the gas dryers. The temperature has been adjusted, and they have reviewed which dampers should be closed to thus be able to dry the grain faster and more efficiently with less energy consumption.

A lot of focus has also been on operator maintenance, meaning that the operators maintain certain parts of the machinery that are easier to continuously check in order to earlier notice any changes in the status of the vehicle fleet.

During the season, the facility in Helsingborg is open around the clock for internal transports with trucks from Lantmännen's other platforms - Billeberga, Eslöv, and Staffanstorp. For the farmers arriving by truck or tractor, the opening hours are 06:00-21:00 with 21 bookable times per hour distributed across nine intake stations.

So, what happens during the harvest when the trucks start rolling in?

"We only have scheduled appointments, so they roll in during their time slot. Samples are then taken directly on the arriving goods. After that, they are tipped at the designated place, often in a pit but it could also be on a platform. After tipping, weighing and estimated payment are done depending on weight and quality," Krister tells us.

In the associated lab, five people work in shifts during the intense reception period. One receives. Another simultaneously takes a sample from the load, which is done by machine. Another performs a rapid analysis of the quality, protein, and water content, as well as falling number. As soon as one truck is on the scale, the next is ready to roll forward for tipping.

"It's really about having one person at each position and keeping the 'machinery' flowing. It slows down a bit during lunchtime, but otherwise, it's full speed ahead throughout the day. During my first season, we had 253 booked trucks in one day plus four unbooked ones that we squeezed in. It was a bit sweaty! But fun to push the limits. Besides having the right person in the right place, we also need to have enough reception capacity based on the emptying plan," Krister says.

The preparation with service and maintenance needs to be taken care of so that everything can run as smoothly as possible. During the year, various investments are also made to be ready, such as replacing two of the so-called Transporters, the machines that transport the grain externally at the facility, ahead of this year's harvest.

"This year, our facility is also a pilot for the Bomilrensen, a machine that sorts the grain for protein based on the protein content one wants it to sort on. Last year's harvest was low on protein, and it was a challenge to reach the right levels. With the help of the machine, we hope to get out a 60 percent better product as it sorts grain by grain,” Krister continues.

Bomilrensen is a so-called container solution that is mobile, which means that it can be moved around to other facilities within Lantmännen. Instead of transporting the product, the machine is being transported.

Finally, Krister, how do you feel about the upcoming season?

"It feels good and will be fun. The facility is ready, the staffing is in place, and it's intense with a lot of adrenaline over a short period of time. We also get quick feedback on whether we planned right before the season. The challenge is that no two harvests are alike. When you think you know how it will go, it can also turn out to be something else. That's what keeps you on your toes!"

Krister Rami

Age: 41 years
Family: My wife Alexandra and our daughter Nova, who is 5 years old, plus a dog.
Background: I previously worked with railway logistics and was the yard manager at the ports of Helsingborg and Trelleborg. I also have a background in warehouse logistics and service as well as maintenance of automation facilities.
Years at Lantmännen: I joined externally and am now in my third "season."
What I enjoy most about my job: The variety! I have the traditional annual cycle as a manager with budgets and personnel matters, etc., but also much more. My role as operations manager is very broad, and I face many varying challenges such as maintenance issues and investment projects with both small and large decisions, which is very exciting. Everything is about making the facility as efficient as possible ahead of the harvest.
Most challenging: The prioritizations. To get the most out of the facility with limited resources before the harvest. And not knowing if you made the right decision until you're in the middle of the harvest.
Favorite product from Lantmännen's range: My wife loves the white sticky cake. I buy all the pasta! Kungsörnen!
Leadership style: I'd say I'm confident in most situations. Comparing myself with 22-year-old Rami, who just became a manager, a lot has changed; today, I'm more confident in myself. I'm also committed; I'm passionate about new projects and things. I think I'm also described as positive and energetic. We will always face challenges, but the important thing is to approach them with a positive mindset.
Life motto: "No one remembers a coward."