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Premier Co-op contacted PDC Electrical Contractors in October of 2016 to assist in design and electrical installation for a new feed mill they were planning to build in Westby, WI.

DC started the design process based upon a previous project that we had done with Premier Co-op in Mineral Point, WI. We needed to work with the control system contractor to incorporate the control system into the electrical design. We also needed to work with the building contractor to establish areas for the electrical equipment.  

Ground breaking started in the late winter of 2017. We started electrical installation with the service in early summer of 2017. Due to the busy work environment, the steel erection took longer than anticipated, pushing the electrical work into the late summer months. No additional electrical work could be done until all of the structural steel and the overhead bin structure were completed and the building was enclosed.

Once the building was enclosed, we started installing the lighting systems throughout the plant and the switch gear and motor control centers in the electrical room. When the bin structure was complete and before they could install the legs we had to coordinate time to install the main cable tray through the main process floor. Conduits from the cable tray to the top of the   upper ingredient bin structure for all of the motors and controls that would be at the upper elevations.

We continued working on the inside of the mill hooking up equipment as it was being set. We worked from the the top of the ingredient bin structure again. During the fall of 2017 we lifted all of the tools, equipment and able to stay on top for most of the day. Several weeks were needed to complete work on top of the bin deck.

Once the motors and field devices were set, climbing up and down was a challenge to complete the work at such high elevation. Good communication was needed for the crews on the top and bottom to pull wire and terminate motors and control devices.

We installed wiring for 129 motors ranging from 1 to 300 horsepower. 304 control points from 20 feet below grade to 170 feet above grade and everywhere in between. There was 1 main PLC cabinet and 5 field mounted remote controls panels. All of the control panels were connected via Ethernet to the main processor in the electrical room. We had installed wiring to nine distributors, which in turn fed 108 spouts at the top of the leg structures to distribute the ingredients to 68 different bins. Sixty-eight high level wired on the bins. Also three scales were wired for weighing product. A safety system that monitored the four individually wired safety devices, such as speed switches, bearing temperature switches, and product flow switches. Approximately 20,000 feet of raceway   was installed, and 152,000 feet of wire and cable was pulled for power and control.  

A total of 9,000 man hours were needed to get the building and process system ready. After testing of the 304 field devices the final commissioning took place without any startup issues or wiring mistakes. All systems checked out flawlessly. This allowed them to have the system tested and ready for production.  

Although a fairly routine project for PDC, our greatest challenge was supplying adequate man power during demanding schedules from our other projects. The project was completed by the due date due to the abilities of our talented and dedicated electricians.



In the spring of 2017 Klondike Cheese Company embarked on their journey to achieve larger production goals. The Buholzer family’s vision required in depth research, planning, and precise action to execute. A vast portion of this project required the electrical design and installation expertise of PDC Electrical Contractors.

A challenge that this project faced was incorporating each specific equipment manufacturer and their complex engineering. The cheese making industry utilizes a blend of American, German, and Italian equipment.

Klondike used their own team of Master Cheesemakers to assist the general contractor in their duties.  Coordination of people, resources, and integration of all systems would prove to be challenging. Weekly progress meetings, constant communication, and extremely detailed planning were necessary to pull this 36,000 square foot cheese factory together.

Electrical Distribution

The existing distribution system was designed back in 2012 with intentions of adding the additional load for the new Muenster, Havarti cheese making equipment in the future. 

 Numerous virtual meetings were needed to blend the needs of the three major vendors supplying their portion of the project. This was necessary to compile electrical load schedules, which in turn allowed us to size the electrical rooms needed and provide enough power to the new cheese making plant. The electrical load demands included: 155 motors, lighting, HVAC requirements, and miscellaneous support loads.   

With the assessment completed, a 2000-AMP switchboard extension was installed to house the additional distribution breakers. This was needed to power the new 1200-AMP distribution panel located in the Muenster addition mezzanine.

Panel feeders and branch circuitry were based on specific motor loads and their diversity applied to the system. Specific design concepts utilized the available space within room. The cable routing system was taken into consideration as well during this design stage.

The process motors were assigned to a specific electric room based on the respective locations.  Branch electric panels were created at these areas to organize the motors for each of the process manufacturers. This layout and design would help ease any troubleshooting or preventative maintenance work when needed.

Open Concept VFD

Klondike requested an option for accessibility, programming, and serviceability for their VFDs. We worked with PDC sales and Electropower to design an arrangement suitable for their application. Each VFD arrangement encompasses all NEC requirements while providing the ease of accessibility of the open concept. The design and layout for each device was carefully implemented using each electric room to its maximum potential.

Each VFD assembly is assigned to its corresponding motor on the production floor. Clear nomenclature creates a safe and manageable work place for preventative maintenance and servicing.

Stainless Steel Raceway Construction

A custom designed 24” wide by 4” stainless steel tray system housed the power cabling while an additional 12” wide by 4” deep tray   system was used for low voltage process cabling. For sanitation purposes the trays were enclosed and peaked covers were used to keep debris from sitting on the flat surfaces. With careful planning and coordination, the tray system installation took place prior to the process equipment arrival.

Stainless steel conduit drops were utilized transitioning from the cable tray. 2,000 feet of stainless cable tray and 12,000 feet of stainless steel conduit were installed on the production floor.  It took a blend of experienced welders, fabricators, and electricians to pull all of this together.

Control design/installation

The I/O control cabinets were designed and assembled by PDC’s Automation group for the cheese-forms handling equipment; using pages of consolidated I/O lists from the German manufacturer of the equipment. Each enclosure is made of stainless steel and is custom assembled in our PDC Panel Shop.

Specifically designed for each location, the cabinets are incorporated throughout the production floor to be associated with the specific areas of operation. The placing of the panels was a challenge due to limited floor space and all of the equipment that needed to be installed. Panels needed to be accessible but not interfere with daily operations.

Inside the process control system, lies an intricate safety system. This system communicates to 185 safety devices within specific zones of operation.

Each area of the make room is broken down into safety zones. These zones incorporating light curtains, proximity switches, and locking gates, along with emergency stop stations. This safety system is programmed to lockout all energy sources within the zones, including electrical and pneumatic. Should operators or maintenance personnel need to gain entry.  

Along with the electrical control, a pneumatic control system was designed by PDCs engineering team. Individual equipment spec sheets provided the overview of each device. The twist behind this- All documents were in German! After the documents were translated, each specific fitting was crossed referenced and altered to accept American pneumatic products. A final total of 23 control cabinets including pneumatic, I/O, and power supply panels were installed. This led into a total of nearly 2,500 I/O connection points for the form handling equipment!

Along with panels for the form handling equipment, two other systems had to be installed as well. Cheese making equipment included 48 control panels and 1,500 field devices. This handled all of the milk receiving, milk storage, pasteurization, cheese making, and CIP functions. Another system that was system that was installed was the automated brine system. This required 5 of control panels and 85 of field devices. Finally, was the addition of new packaging equipment in the existing packaging room. The control, branch, and distribution power led to a staggering grand total of 225,000 feet of wire used!  

An extensive Ethernet network was installed to the many control panels, and all of the VFD control panels. Three different electric rooms were used to house all electrical equipment needed for this project.  

We are extremely proud to be part of such a complex and rewarding project. A very special thanks to the Klondike crew and all of the individuals part of this project.