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Behind the Freight Move: Strong Service Fuels Ethanol Business

Midwestern corn fields filling more than dinner plates 

Ethanol is a central ingredient to many of the items we use daily from cleaning supplies and spray paints to lotions and colognes, but it is most commonly known for its use as a biofuel. Ethanol is a green, renewable energy source created by fermenting corn, or other plant-based materials.

Reliable and consistent supply chains are a critical element of the business model for ethanol producers and the broader agribusiness industry. Both producers and companies that leverage ethanol in the manufacturing process, run lean production cycles and rely on transportation providers to deliver on commitments.

Excellent service fuels customer’s ability to grow business 

Green Plains, Inc., an ethanol producer headquartered in Omaha, NE, recently recognized the CSX service product with top customer service scores. Green Plains ships thousands of carloads of ethanol every year in private assets from processing plants in Nebraska and several other states to gasoline-blending facilities along the Eastern Seaboard. Green Plains and their partners downstream in the supply chain require consistent and timely transportation solutions to ensure inventory levels are properly managed and production stays online.

The railroaders at CSX are providing the reliable service required by Green Plains and other agribusiness customers. The CSX team is focused on delivering the safest, most dependable rail service product in North America. The results of the team’s efforts are evident in recent improvement in key operating measures. As train counts and dwell go down and velocity, on-time originations and on-time arrivals go up, network fluidity and service consistency should continue to increase, allowing Green Plains and other customers to leverage the benefits of rail to grow their business.

“Customer service played a critical part in our ability to capture the business,” said Greg Goetz, account manager. “The operations team deserves a lot of credit for being accessible to the customer and providing proactive communication about the status of shipments and changes as they occur.”

Greg said the major oil companies who perform the blending are highly cost-conscious and maintain as little inventory as possible. That means unexpected transportation delays can disrupt production schedules and have an adverse impact on customers far down the supply chain.

Delivering on-time and on commitments

Green Plains expressed tremendous trust in both the transportation and sales and marketing teams. The company indicated, “The CSX service product is allowing us to better serve our customer’s tighter cycle times through providing more competitive and on-time transportation services from the Midwest to our customers’ processing facilities on the East Coast.”

Goetz said the strong relationship is likely to lead to additional business down the road, as the ethanol market outlook is favorable and Green Plains has indicated plans to expand both in ethanol production and in diversified agricultural businesses.

“It all starts with service,” Goetz said.


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