Silos are large structures used for storage. These are usually cylinder shaped or shaped like a bunker and are used to store free-flowing materials such as grain, coal, carbon, wood chips, saw dust, sugar and cement.
In order to maximise the efficiency of the storage silos it is important to keep them clean.
The way silos work is that the material is fed through the top and taken out the bottom. This is so that the oldest material is used first. Free movement of the material is key. Rat holing is a problem that can occur if the silos aren’t cleaned properly. This occurs when the material in the silo adheres to the sides of the silo. Another thing is bridging, which occurs when the material blocks the base of the silo. There could also be issues such as overflowing, contamination and reduced space.
On a day to day basis it is important to clean silos to hinder blockages and build ups. Many of the problems associated with silos can be prevented before they happen by regular maintenance. If there is food matter in the silo it will need to be cleaned more regularly.
The most common way to clean a silo is manually, by lowing people down into the silo to clean it. Only highly trained personnel should attempt silo cleaning as it can be quite dangerous due to being in a close proximity to the material in a small space with little oxygen. Breathing precautions need to be taken to make sure there is enough oxygen, and that you don’t breathe in dust/any other dangerous materials. Also safety is a feature because the cleaner will have to stand on a platform/cage in order to clean inside the silo.
The cleaner is always watched by a safety supervisor and the silos are cleaned by dry scraping and brushing the walls. This is done with brushes and brooms or spatulas and scrapers. Sometimes it may be necessary to perform a wet wash. Vacuuming can be done to clean the bottom of the silo.
The downside of this method, apart from the obvious safety hazards is that the efficiency obviously varies from person to person and it can take hours to do. It is a time consuming and complicated process.
Some companies have implored alternative method to cleaning silos in order to save time and effort. These are usually high-pressured air blasters.