Grain storage and handling projects

by Arvin Donley
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The continued growth of the grain-based biofuels sector as well as increased global production of wheat, maize, rice and other grains resulted in rising demand for grain storage and handling equipment in 2007.

In the United States (U.S.), where most ethanol is made from maize, commercial grain bin suppliers reported brisk sales of storage and handling equipment to ethanol facilities around the country. According to the Renewable Fuels Association, there are currently nine ethanol plants under construction in the U.S. and another 50 that are undergoing expansions.

Meanwhile, in Europe, many new biodiesel facilities were built during the past year, which meant the installation of large storage bins for rapeseed, the crop primarily used to produce biodiesel in that region of the world.

But it’s not just biofuels that’s driving the boom in grain storage construction, as equipment suppliers are reporting significant activity in the flour milling, feed milling and oilseed processing sectors as well.

Eastern Europe continues to be one of the more active areas in terms of building new grain storage facilities and adding capacity to existing plants. This is particularly true in the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) region, where the grain industry continues to expand. Suppliers also reported demand for increased grain storage space in the parts of the Middle East, Asia and South America.

As far as construction trends are concerned, the use of galvanized steel has been popular with customers, as it improves the durability of the storage bin. Suppliers also noted that customers are requesting handling equipment that can load and unload grain at higher capacities and reduce dust emissions and noise pollution.

The following is a sample of projects completed in recent months involving some of the world’s biggest manufacturers of storage and handling equipment.

The largest malting facility in Turkey was constructed in 2007 for Anadolu Efes, the holding company of Efes Beverage Group, which is a group of companies that produce and market beer, malt and soft drinks throughout Turkey, Russia, the CIS, the Middle East and Southeast Europe.

The new plant, located in Cumra, Turkey, can process up to 142,800 tonnes of barley per year, yielding about 86,500 tonnes of malt.

The $2 million project, which was completed in two phases, features eight GSI flat-bottom bins with a storage capacity of 223,532 bushels (5,084 tonnes) per bin for a total storage capacity of nearly 1.8 million bushels (39,164 tonnes). The bins are 72 feet (21.95 meters) in diameter, 58 feet (17.68 meters) tall at the eaves and nearly 79 feet (24 meters) at peak height. The bins are equipped with aeration systems, temperature and moisture control systems, bin level control systems and bin sweeps. Unloading is done via discharge conveyors that are located underneath the bins.

The material handling system includes chain conveyors totaling 600 meters in length, six bucket elevators, a 34-meter-high elevator tower, catwalks totaling 400 meters in length, a distributor, grain spouting package, metal separator, dust control system, electric control panel and PLC system. Loading capacity is 75 tph for each of the two intake points, while unloading capacity is 100 tph.

A third construction phase is scheduled to begin in August 2008, with four more bins being added that will increase overall storage capacity to 2.6 million bushels. The third phase is expected to be completed by October 2008, in time for the barley harvest.

GSI, Assumption, Illinois, U.S., also has installed grain storage and handling equipment for Anadolu Efes at its malt production facilities in Afyon, Turkey and Kazan, Russia.

Agrosuper, a large feed manufacturer in Chile, recently began operations at a new feed mill in Huasco, Chile. Construction of the feed mill was completed in November 2007 and included the installation of eight corrugated and galvanized Chief Titan silos with a combined grain storage capacity of 68,800 tonnes.

Each steel bin is 22.6 meters in diameter, 25.5 meters tall (19.4 meters at the eaves) and has a storage capacity of 8,600 tonnes. Maize and soybeans are the main crops used in feed production at the Agrosuper plant.

The feed mill specializes in pig feed production, with much of the final product being shipped to a swine growing facility located 10 miles from the mill.

Two of the Czech Republic’s largest grain companies recently completed expansion projects with the help of Brock Grain Systems, Milford, Indiana, U.S.

Rabbit Chotisany added 42,684 tonnes of grain storage at its facility in Chotisany, Czech Republic. The two-phase project, which was completed in 2007, features three bins with 5,185 tonnes of storage capacity each that are 16.3 meters tall at the eaves and 22.5 meters tall overall as well as three bins with a storage capacity of 9,042 tonnes each that stand 17.9 meters tall at the eaves and have a peak height of 25.2 meters.

All silos are equipped with a gravity side unloading system with loading and unloading rates of 100 tph. The Chotisany facility handles maize, wheat and barley.

Brock also supplied AgroServis with more than 66,000 tonnes of additional maize storage at its facility in Hosteradice, Czech Republic, which is one of the largest grain storage complexes in Central Europe. The storage and handling equipment was added in several stages during the past five years, with the final stage completed in 2007.

The maize storage expansion included the addition of four 7,231-tonne-capacity, 31.1-meter-tall bins; two 11,501-tonne, 32.5-meter-tall bins; and six 2,389-tonne, 28.8-meter-tall bins. Total maize storage is 66,260 tonnes while total wheat storage is 70,861 tonnes.

All 12 silos are equipped with a gravity side unloading system with loading and unloading capacity rated at 100 tph.

To upgrade its storage capacity at its edible oil plant in Martfu, Hungary, Bunge PLC contracted Behlen Manufacturing Co., Columbus, Nebraska, U.S., to install 14 bins for sunflower seed storage.

The project, which was completed in December 2007, gave Bunge an additional 100,000 tonnes of storage capacity at the facility, which has a production capacity of 2,000 tonnes per day.

Behlen supplied 14 bins, each of which can hold more than 7,000 tonnes of sunflower seed. The bins are 28 meters in diameter, 22 meters tall at the eaves with a total height of 29.71 meters. Each bin is supported by outside stiffeners.

The $12 million project also involved:

• installation of a 40-meter-long receiving pit;

• a complete cleaning station to take out the big impurities, small impurities and dust;

• a connecting bridge between the existing facilities and the new storage bins; and

• handling equipment for loading and unloading grain from the silos.

The grain handling equipment installed includes cleaners, pre-cleaners, a dedusting system, five bucket elevators with a total height of 141 meters, 28 chain conveyors with a total length of 1,098 meters, slides and sweepers. Loading and unloading capacity is 130 tph.

Behlen supplied bins with total storage capacity of 30,000 tonnes at the Bunge Hungary facility more than 25 years ago.

Flour Mills of Nigeria (FMN) operates eight flour mills in the area of Lagos, Nigeria that have a combined milling capacity of approximately 6,000 tonnes per 24 hours. In June 2007, FMN added 32,000 tonnes of storage capacity for wheat in the Apapa Bulk Terminal area of Lagos.

Buhler AG, which has supplied equipment for FMN on several other projects, installed grain handling equipment for the latest project.

The facility, which handles hard and soft wheat, consists of five steel silos with 8,000 cubic meters each of storage capacity. Each bin is 18 meters in diameter and 34 meters tall.

The grain is conveyed to and from the silos by means of reversible belt conveyors. In addition, the grain can be dispatched from the silos via four truck loading facilities, which are housed in an adjacent building incorporated in the overall layout of the storage plant. Intake and reclaim capacities are rated at 400 tph.

Other equipment installed includes bucket elevators, chain conveyors and an aspiration filter system.

The storage facility and the adjacent flour mills are automatically controlled by Buhler’s WinCos control system.

After the successful installation of this grain handling system, Buhler recently received another order from FMN for a new silo system that will be fed directly from a new ship unloading system with a total capacity of 600 tph. This will include a reclaim system of 400 tph. The new wheat storage complex will be comprised of seven silos with a total storage capacity of 36,000 tonnes.

ACOR, a Spain-based agricultural cooperative, recently began operating a biodiesel facility in Olmedo, Spain that has a production capacity of 100,000 tonnes per year. The integrated facility includes seed reception, storage, preparation, extraction, oil treatment and biodiesel production.

Silo Cordoba, Cordoba, Spain, installed 21 silos, including five hopper silos, for storage of oleaginous and cereals used in the production of biodiesel. Each silo is 27.5 meters in diameter and 32 meters tall with a storage capacity of 12,351 tonnes. Cost of the project was $4 million.

Pacific Ethanol continued to expand its production capacity in 2007 with the completion of a new 40-million-gallon-per-year plant in Boardman, Oregon, U.S.

The facility includes two SCAFCO steel silos with a storage capacity of 487,587 bushels (12,385 tonnes) each. The bins are equipped with two 40-hp centrifugal fans and heavy-duty sweep augers with 5,000-bph unloading systems.

The facility receives unit trains of maize (corn) via dual 25,000-bph receiving lines. Two drag conveyors under the rail transfer maize to two transfer belts. Dual elevators lift the corn to the bin fill belts that are each rated at 50,000 bph. The equipment is supported by SCAFCO designed and engineered structural towers and bridges. A unit train can be received in less than 10 hours.

The total cost of the grain system was $5.7 million. SCAFCO Grain Systems Company, Spokane, Washington, U.S., has also installed grain storage and handling systems at four other Pacific Ethanol facilities.

Expansion of the biofuels sector in Europe has meant strong demand for storage and handling equipment at biodiesel facilities across that continent.

Symaga, a Spanish silo manufacturer, installed 20 silos at a biodiesel facility in Bavaria, Germany in 2007. The project consisted of 10 silos for rapeseed that were 16.8 meters in diameter with a storage capacity of 3,800 tonnes and another 10 silos for rape meal that were 13.75 meters in diameter with 1,650 tonnes of storage capacity. The installed intake capacity is 200 tph.

Symaga said the silos for rape meal include hydraulic unloading systems. Due to the special unloading systems and the difficulty in storing rape meal, the silos had to be specially designed according to the demanding German statical regulations.

These silos include a set of inner and outer flat sheets. The inner flat sheet smooths the inner silo wall and improves material flow, while the outer flat sheet gives the silos additional stiffness and rigidity. The silo was welded on the outer flat sheet to a steel plate in the foundation around the whole circumference of the silo. A second protective set of body sheets in pre-lacquered steel was placed on the silos.

A special insulation material was installed during erection of the silo between inner and outer body sheets to give thermal insulation to the rape meal stored in the silos.

More than 90,000 tonnes of wheat storage was installed in 2007 in a project in Iran by Aksaray, Turkey-based Obial.

The company installed 10 silos with 7,895 tonnes of storage capacity each. The diameter of each silo is 26.18 meters, and the silos are 17.31 meters tall at the eaves and 24.72 meters tall overall. Obial also supplied chain conveyors, bucket elevators and other handling equipment to the project, which was completed in September 2007. The grain handling capacity is 200 tph.

Obial said it installed nearly 1 million tonnes of grain storage capacity in 2007, nearly twice the amount of installed grain storage capacity in 2006, and is expecting to exceed its 2007 total in 2008.

Turkish flour miller Okyay Un San Vetic Ltd. added nearly 12,000 tonnes of wheat storage capacity in 2007 with the purchase of four bins from Sukup Manufacturing Company, Sheffield, Iowa, U.S.

The bins are 16.5 meters in diameter, 14.5 meters tall at the eaves and 19.6 meters tall overall and have a storage capacity of nearly 2,500 tonnes each.

The loading and unloading capacity of the grain handling equipment is rated at 100 tph. Total cost of the project, including storage and handling equipment, was $395,416. Sukup said Okyay Un plans to expand its storage capacity in 2008 by 12,000 tonnes.

Sweet Manufacturing Company, Springfield, Ohio, U.S., recently installed grain handling equipment at a facility in Bouchardo, Argentina that handles maize, soybeans and wheat.

Storage capacity at the facility is 41,000 tonnes, with a maximum loading capacity of 500 tph.

Products installed at this plant include several Silver Sweet bucket elevators.