Grain storage and handling projects…a review

by World Grain Staff
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During the past year, business has been booming for grain storage and handling equipment suppliers. And with global grain production forecast to reach a record level in 2007, increasing by as much as 5% over 2006 levels, the need for new grain storage and handling equipment will likely continue for the foreseeable future.

Eastern Europe continues to be one of the more active areas in terms of building new grain storage facilities and adding capacity at existing plants.

In the United States (U.S.), the meteoric rise in maize-based ethanol production has meant increased business for grain storage and handling equipment manufacturers. According to the U.S.-based Renewable Fuels Association, more than 80 ethanol facilities are either being newly constructed or undergoing expansion. As ethanol production increases, so will the need for additional storage capacity for maize — the primary ethanol feedstock in the U.S.

Last year total grain storage capacity increased by nearly 298 million bushels (7.5 million tonnes) in the top four maizeproducing states — Illinois, Iowa, Nebraska and Minnesota — up 3.4% from 2005, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Other parts of the world that are seeing a significant amount of grain storage construction include Mexico, India, parts of Asia and the Middle East. The following is a sampling of projects involving the world’s manufacturers of storage and handling equipment that have been completed in recent months or are currently under way.

Looking to reduce its labor and spillage costs, Sneha Farms Pvt. Ltd., a poultry and feed mill operation in Andhra Pradesh, India, added 10,000 tonnes of maize (corn) storage to its facility in 2006 with the installation of a flat-bottom bin from Chief Industries, Kearney, Nebraska, U.S.

The U.S.$300,000 project also included the installation of three 300-tonne and two 150-tonne Chief hopper silos for storage of free flowing material. All of the new storage units are located next to Sneha Farms’ 300-tonne-per-day feed mill.

Prior to the installation, Sneha Farms’ maize storage consisted of three 1,500-tonne, flat-bottom bins, meaning it now has more than tripled its original storage capacity. The 10,000-tonne, flat-bottom bin is 32 meters in diameter and 23 meters tall; 14 meters tall at the eaves.

Chief also installed aeration equipment, roof exhaust fans and an unloading auger as well as a StorMax temperature monitoring system and Insect Pest Detection System (IPDS), both manufactured by OPI Systems. The IPDS, based on infrared technology, provides real-time monitoring of insects inside the bin.

Sneha Farms said adding the Chief bins helped the company save money in the long run in several ways. Prior to the installation, Sneha Farms was paying a contractor about $60,000 per year to handle bagged maize. In this regard, the expansion project has resulted in about a 50% reduction in labor costs, or about $30,000 per year. The company also estimates it has reduced its spillage-related costs by about $32,000 per year.

Because the facility is located in an area that is prone to earthquakes, Chief installed vertical stiffeners uniquely designed for superior strength to better withstand the local conditions.

Sneha Farms, which has more than 2.5 million commercial broilers, five wholesale outlets, 20 chicken retail outlets and 60 franchise shops, said it is poised for growth in the coming years and thus, in the near future, plans to install another set of Chief bins of the same capacity of those recently installed.

To assure availability throughout the year at an affordable price, Sneha Farms said it is helping farmers within a 25-mile radius of its facility grow quality maize.

Also in 2006, Chief supplied bins for Toros Tarim at its new grain facilities in Adana and Izmir, Turkey, giving each facility about 20,000 tonnes of wheat storage capacity.

At each plant, two Chief Titan CB 22-16 bins and four CB 18-12 bins were installed with a grain handling system manufactured by Ankara, Turkey-based Teta Engineering.

The CB 22-16 bins are about 20.75 meters in diameter, 21.65 meters tall (17.24 meters at the eaves) and have a storage capacity of 5,187 tonnes. The CB 18-12 bins are 17 meters in diameter, 16.46 meters tall (12.93 at the eaves) and can store up to 2,623 tonnes of wheat.

It took less than six months to install the grain storage and handling equipment at both facilities, with a total cost of $2.6 million, including the concrete foundation works.

Over the years, Buhler AG of Uzwil, Switzerland has supplied a variety of grain handling and milling equipment to Hayel Saeed Anam and Co. (HSA), a fast-growing company based in Yemen.

Their most recent project involves the installation of an 800-tph ship unloader at HSA’s flour milling facility located at the Aden port in Yemen. The 750-tonne-per-day mill at Hodeida Port was commissioned in February 2007, and a second mill of the same capacity is currently being installed at the same location.

The HSA port terminal at Aden is suitable for birthing up to 70,000-tonne Panamax wheat vessels on one side and 30,000-tonne vessels on the other. The Buhler ship unloader moves the wheat into a group of 800-tph belt conveyors, which can deliver it to two different groups of silos with a total storage capacity of 160,000 tonnes.

The first group of silos consists of a dozen 5,000-tonne steel storage units that are 20 meters in diameter and 26 meters tall (20 meters tall at the eaves). Grain is moved in these units by bucket elevators and chain conveyors with a capacity of 500 tph.

The second group of bins features four 5,000-tonne units (with the same dimensions as mentioned above) and eight units with 10,000 tonnes of storage capacity each. The 10,000-tonne storage bins are 27.2 meters in diameter and 27 meters tall (20 meters tall at the eaves). Grain is moved by bucket elevators and chain conveyors rated at 500 tph.

The HSA facility in Aden, which opened in 2000 with two 750-tonne-per- day flour mills, has added three additional milling lines since then, each with daily production capacity of 750 tonnes.

Once work on the newest flour mill in the Hodeida port is completed, HSA will have seven mills in operation combining for a total daily production capacity of 5,250 tonnes.

Agroindustrias Unidas de Mexico SA de CV, a grain trading company located in the northern part of Mexico, doubled its storage capacity in 2007 with the addition of three 10,000-tonne storage silos from SCAFCO Grain Systems, Spokane, Washington, U.S.

The U.S.$1.1-million project took four months to complete and involved the installation of three Model 10544ES galvanized steel silos for storage of maize. The silos are externally stiffened, 32 meters in diameter and 22 meters tall (13 meters tall at the eaves), with a twostage, rafter-supported roof.

All three silos have a double H aeration system and two 25-horsepower centrifugal fans, sweep augers and two sidedischarge kits for loading trucks.

SCAFCO also supplied three belt conveyors for loading and unloading that have a capacity of 120 tph.

Agroindustrias Unidas, which stores maize, sorghum, wheat and garbanzo beans in northern Mexico and coffee beans in the south, purchased a 10,000-tonne Model 10544ES steel silo from SCAFCO in 2003 and had it installed at its Guasave, Mexico facility.

A "green field" project for Ukrainian agribusiness company JSC Mlronovsky Hleboprodukt was completed in July 2006 near Dnepropetrovsk, Ukraine with the installation of seven steel storage bins from Brock Grain Systems, Milford, Indiana, U.S. The bins are being used for sunflower seed storage.

Brock installed four commercial grain bins that are 32 meters in diameter and 31 meters tall; 20 meters tall at the eaves. Each has storage capacity of 20,000 cubic meters for an overall total of 80,000 cubic meters. The bins feature the new, heavy-base angle for single-pass sweeping, an automatic temperature detection system, aeration and fans, and catwalk/ support towers.

Two hopper bins for wet storage were also installed by Brock. They each measure 9.1 meters in diameter and have 1,177 cubic meters of storage capacity. Also installed was a hopper bin for dry storage that is 7.3 meters in diameter.

The five-month project was completed last July. According to Brock, at the time of installation the bins were the largest in Ukraine.

Schmidt-Seeger AG, Beilngries, Germany, supplied the cleaning, handling and drying equipment for the project.

Silos Cordoba in 2005 finished a massive grain storage and handling equipment installation project for the Hungarian company HevesGep that included the construction of 33 new maize storage facilities.

Each plant has a capacity of 19,038 cubic meters and consists of six flat silos (models 18, 33/9) with storage capacity of 3,173 cubic meters each. Total storage capacity for the project was 628,254 cubic meters.

For each facility, Silos Cordoba also provided the client with four chain conveyors, six sweepers and six grain spreaders with operating capacities of 60 tph.

Silos Cordoba, based in Cordoba, Spain, noted that the project was completed in only five months. "For the client, it was crucial to finish in October, as this project was going to be developed within the framework of the European Union (E.U.) program SAPARB, which aims to improve the development of agriculture," said Pedro Flores, sales executive for Eastern European countries at Silos Cordoba."

Flores added, "The client came and told me that he had signed that big project with the Hungarian government and needed a company that could make the effort of meeting the deadlines."

For Silos Cordoba, the project represented almost half of its turnover in 2005 and "opened a door to grow more in Eastern European countries," according to Silos Cordoba General Manager Juan Lopez Regalon. "In 2006, our turnover in those countries represented 23% of the total sales, and this year we expect to reach about 26%."

Upcoming projects for Silos Cordoba include: construction of a maize and cereal storage plant for Agro Vos in Slovakia, which will include six silos (models 32.08/20) with total storage capacity of 100,000 tonnes; and the installation of 24 silos (models 12.22/17) with total storage capacity of 50,000 tonnes for Jurex in the Czech Republic.

It took just three-and-a-half months for grain storage equipment supplier Prado to install 13 rice storage bins just north of Bangkok for PRESIDENT, a company based in Thailand.

Prado, Madrid, Spain, which has sold equipment to the Asian market for more than 25 years, used two of its silo models (GB 66-59 and SOM 27C9) in this particular installation.

Eight GB 66-59 silos, each with a storage capacity of 6,330 cubic meters and measuring 24.5 meters tall and 20 meters in diameter, were installed.

These models have a flat or cone-shaped concrete base and are fitted with a 35-degree self-supporting roof (instead of the usual 30-degree roof) in order to optimize storage capacity. This specification was included in a previous 300,000-tonne facility built for PRESIDENT in 2004, one of the largest rice storage facilities with metal silos in the world. Loading speed on the eight GB silos was 1,000 tph.

To supplement the GB silos, Prado supplied five SOM 27C silos, each with a storage capacity of 524 tonnes and measuring 8.1 meters in diameter and 17.4 meters tall; 10 meters tall at the eaves. The SOM silos incorporate a metal hopper for unloading.

Prado noted that there is great demand for rice storage silos in the Asian market because of the concentration of rice production in that region and the durability of stored rice. The properties of white rice allow it to be preserved naturally, meaning it can be stored for an indefinite amount of time in dry, cold and well-ventilated places.

Over the years, Prive has established itself as a major supplier of grain storage equipment in northern Africa.

One of the France-based company’s most recent projects in that region involved the installation of 10 grain bins, each with 3,000 tonnes of storage capacity, for the company MSCB in Had Soualem, Morocco. The bins are mostly used to store imported wheat and maize.

Grain Process System, a Moroccan company that has had a long relationship with Prive, was in charge of erecting the bins and installing the 200-tph grain handling equipment that was manufactured by France-based Denis.

The five-month project was completed in July 2006, and Prive said that MSCB recently decided to order additional silos to store wheat at a flour mill that is under construction near the grain storage facility in Had Soualem.

Behlen Manufacturing Co., Columbus, Nebraska, U.S., recently completed a project at a new 110-railcar receiving facility in Guadalajara, Mexico for Almacenadora Mercader SA Almer.

Eight grain silos with total storage capacity of 40,000 tonnes were installed by Behlen.

Also installed was Hi Roller filling belt conveyors with intermediate fixed trippers at 1,200 tph.

France-based grain handling equipment supplier Denis installed more than 600 sweep augers during the last 12 months for facilities in north and central Africa, Middle East, Southeast Asia and European countries including England, Germany, Poland, Hungary, Romania and the Baltic states.

In addition, Denis recently supplied a North American facility with a set of integral sweep augers for bins that are 12.8 meters in diameter and 19 meters tall, with gravity discharge of 250 tph and recovery output of 170 tph.

Designed for gravity discharge up to 600 tph and residual output up to 300 tph, the Denis integral sweep augers operate in silos up to 40 meters in diameter. The sweep augers are specially elaborated for regular emptying of silos in one single pass, with no need for intermediate outlets and without particular parking position of the screw.

Moreover, this equipment conforms to the ATEX requirements (equipment intended for use in potentially explosive atmospheres).

A newly constructed 110-railcar receiving facility, built for Groupo Vali in Aguascalientes, Aguascalientes, Mexico, features Hi Roller enclosed belt conveyors with a capacity of 1,200 tph. Conveyors that utilize 48-inch-wide (121-centimeter) belts and feature intermediate discharger trippers are used to fill the storage bins.

Six Behlen storage bins were erected initially at the facility, and three additional bins as well as a flat storage building will be added later this year. Additional Hi Roller belt conveyors are being used to fill the new storage tanks as well as a Hi Roller moveable tripper for filling and unloading the flat storage building.

Hi Roller, based in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, U.S., noted that bucket elevators and an enclosed belt conveyor in the facility allow for the unloading of four railcars simultaneously on parallel tracks, reducing downtime to near zero. The initial facility was designed to receive whole grains, but the current expansion will allow the customer to handle dried distillers’ grains and soybean meal.

The initial equipment was sold and installed by Gonbar Construcciones as well as the equipment for the expansion.

Sweet Manufacturing Company, Springfield, Ohio, U.S., recently supplied equipment to a rail port facility in Mexico with a storage capacity of 60,000 tonnes of corn and soybeans and a loading capacity of 250 tph. Among the products installed by Sweet were galvanized bucket elevators, drag conveyors, belt conveyors, conveyor support systems and support towers.

Also installed were 24-inch Quick-Key belt conveyors (at a 10-degree angle) to load kidney beans at 80 tph.