A Silo is a large storage container that is typically used to hold substances such as animal feed, industrial powders, cement, and pharmaceuticals. Keeping a Silo clean and sterile will maximize its efficiency and productivity. A clean Silo will also contribute to the cleanliness of the products stored inside. In a Silo, the products are fed through the top and removed from the bottom. Therefore, free movement of stored products, on a first-in, first-out basis, is essential when it comes to maximizing silo efficiency. The prime goal of silo efficiency is to make sure that the oldest substances are used first and that they do not contaminate the newer substances.
Manual cleaning is the easiest way to clean a Silo. This can be done by lowering a worker down on a rope in order to free the products/substances. However, manual cleaning can be dangerous due to the release of material and the possible presence of gases. In cases of bridging (when material blocks at the silo base), an additional danger is posed as the exit hole would need to be rodded from underneath, which will expose the worker to falling powder.
Alternative Silo cleaning methods include:
- Vibrators – fit easily into empty silos, but can cause structural damage and contribute to powder compaction.
- Low friction linings – these are quiet, but expensive to install and are also prone to erosion which can then contaminate the substances within the silo as well as the environment.
- Inflatable pads and liners – easy to install in empty silos and can help side wall build up but have no effect on bridging. These are hard to maintain and can cause compaction.
- Acoustic cleaners – possibly the safest way to clean a Silo as it is a non-invasive procedure and the Silo does not have to be emptied beforehand.
- Pneumatic/Hydraulic whip machines – These are portable machines that are used to ‘cut’ any build up on the walls of the Silo whilst being remotely operated from outside of the container.
- Silo Cleaning Companies – Reputable companies can provide a professional cleaning service for Silos by using a wide range of procedures.
Each method is different and it depends entirely upon the size and type of the Silo when it comes to deciding which is the best one to use.